Steak nights at Ducks Nuts

Tuesday nights are steak nights at the new Ducks Nuts bar and grill in Dickson, $15 bucks will get you a butler steak with green leaf salad and your choice of gravy (chips are $5.00 extra).I asked mine to be medium rare and that’s what I got.  It’s not an overly big piece of steak but it was still delicious and succulent piece of meat.A useful condiment caddy with all the favourites.For those who want something else other than steak will find many options on their menu. Fried buttermilk chicken burger with house slaw and chipotle mayo served with shoe string fries ($19.00).My friend really enjoyed his burger.

Ducks Nuts specials calendar

Sunday Roast all day with all the trimmings ($20.00).

Monday SchnitzelHaus ($15.00).

Tuesday Steak night ($15.00).

Wednesday Burger night with craft beer ($15.00).

 

 

Venue: Ducks Nuts

Address: 30 Woolley St, Dickson ACT 2602 (where O’Neill’s Irish Pub used to be)

Phone(02) 6230 7675

Websitehttp://ducksnuts.net.au/

Opening hours: 7 days a week 11:00am – late

Lunch at The District

For those who know me know I’m really indecisive, especially when it comes to food. I have FOMO, I don’t want to have food regrets and I also don’t want to be that table that orders 5 of the same thing. So going to The District out in Crace was no different and possibly even worse as I always crave a steak AND a schnitzel at the same time when in a pub style cafe.

 

As it turns out, it didn’t matter what I ordered everything was delicious at The District! Between the three of us we ordered two burgers and I opted for the ‘weekday lunch special’ of a Porterhouse steak at the very last minute (I changed my mind at the counter after deliberating at the table for at least 15 minutes on what to order). My friends were sweet enough to share a part of their lunch and I would have happily ordered any of them.

Burgers from the main menu ~all burgers served with beer battered fries

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Burger with bacon, cheese, baby cos & sweet chilli mayo ($22.00). When you feel like a schnitzel or a burger this would be the winning combination and I almost ordered this before I realised I really want beef. It is all my favourite things on a burger and the chicken itself was really moist despite the thicker cut.
My friend helping me get a cross section photo of her lunch before I let her eat it, hahahaha.
American Cheese Burger with 180g beef patty, bacon, sliced pickle,ketchup and American mustard ($22.00). I’m not one for pickles but when my friend said that it really makes it, I couldn’t help but agree. It was a nice juicy patty and definitely hit the spot if you were after a beefy meaty burger.
Weekday special~ a choice of chicken schnitzel, calamari or a Porterhouse steak all served with chips, salad and a beer/wine ($20.00). I exchanged my alcoholic beverage for a lemon lime bitters and thoroughly enjoyed my lunch. The steak was surprising really juicy and easy to cut (I’ve come across many chewy, gristle filled steaks in my time). I ordered my steak with a diane sauce and I’ve never had a more delicious sauce with my steak. It became our communal dipping sauce for our chips at the table as it was a generous serve and everyone loved it.
There is always a nice relaxed atmosphere at The District and it has always been family friendly. If you’re in the area and you want a nice simple meal without the pretentiousness at hard to park areas, come to Crace. The service is friendly, the warmer weather lets people enjoy the outdoor seating and the food is tasty.

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

Marble and Grain

It was Monday night and although Marble and Grain wasn’t my first/second/third or even my fourth choice of places to eat, I had seen an influx of instagrammed photos recently and mainly because it was open, that I asked my friends meet me there for dinner.When we walked in, I didn’t expect the premises to be so big but it expands over several shop fronts and it is a bar on one side and restaurant with a big open kitchen on the other. It is the restaurant for the 5 star Avenue Hotel and it proceeded to become quite busy over the duration we were there considering it was a Monday night.     Complimentary bread and butter to start.Starters~

Truffle and parmesan arancini served with garlic mayo (5 for $10.00). These were delicious, the inside was cheesy (not that much truffle though), the outer coating was crispy and the sauce went really well with it.

 
Chorizo corn dogs with smokey tomato relish (4 for $9.00). I would have thought these would have been waaaay more cute if that had sticks piercing through them but I just stabbed my fork through them and dealt with it. The battered coating didn’t do much but the chorizo was full of flavour and made up for it and it definitely needed the tomato relish.
Entree~

Seared scallops cauliflower, water cress and smoked chorizo oil ($19.00). While I shared two smaller plates which were the price equivalent of this one entrée, the boys didn’t regret their choice at all and I barely sampled any of this dish but TimmyC did give me a bit of the scallops. It was naturally sweet, had a good sear and paired perfectly with the little pieces of chorizo that came with it.

 
Mains~

12hr braised beef short rib 500g smoked carrots, cavolo netro and herb jus ($35.00).I’ve had a really good short rib from Temporada and so I had high hopes for this dish, but I found that the sticky glaze felt like it coated the inside of my mouth and proceeded keep going down my throat. The meat itself was very tender and the puree helped to cut through that sticky feeling. Despite being 500g, I found some of that dead weight to be in the big bone that was attached and I was still hungry after my main, lucky for me Timmy couldn’t finish his and I helped him out.

The Grill~ all served with paris mash, sautéed spinach, bone marrow and herb jus.

Scotch fillet grass fed 300g ($36.00). Although I have found Chifley’s has ruined me for steak at other restaurants, this was really nice and I found it to be the best tasting steak on the table; I probably ate just a little over half of TimmyC’s dish. I’m not the biggest fan of bone marrow, I find it too rich even for me, it is like eating really wobbly fat which I don’t mind on a steak if it is seared well.

Rib eye steak special 500g ($40.00). My friend was really disappointed about the way his steak was cooked, although he wouldn’t let the wait staff know and just complained as he cut through pieces of his steak that was definitely cooked beyond rare as he had ordered.Sirloin steak Travale pasture fed angus 250g ($36.00). My other friend was also less than impressed with his steak, something between the taste of the meat and way it was cooked just couldn’t be compared to the steaks that we had a Chifley’s.Sides~

Roast sweet corn with bacon salt ($9.00). I know I am constantly disappointed with corn at restaurants but a juicy sweet corn goes so well with so much meat. There was a slight delay with my corn and when I brought it up with my waitress, she said that she would check on it (it was probably forgotten). When she returned she said that she was sorry for the hold up and that the corn would be taken off the bill which I thought was really nice. The corn itself was sweet and was covered in a salt that I wouldn’t identify as bacon but was nice nonetheless.Desserts~

White chocolate brulee berries, basil and roasted hazelnuts ($14.00). TimmyC pushed his dessert forward and asked me and a friend to taste it, without hesitation I dug my spoon in tasted it and spat it out immediately. After confirmation that it wasn’t just TimmyC’s taste buds and that there was something definitely wrong with this dessert, I called the very polite waitress over and told her that this dessert was utterly salty. She made a puzzled face and was very apologetic, we suggested to get the chefs to taste and we all peered over from afar to see the chef’s reaction was similar to ours. They had mistakenly caramelised the top with salt rather than sugar, an easy mistake to do when comparing the ingredients but it had devastating effects in our mouths and I expected an establishment like this not to make that type of mistake. The waitress apologised a lot but we knew it wasn’t her fault personally, TimmyC was able to either wait for another brulee to be made or choose another dessert and his dessert and coffee were taken off the bill.This looked like a ‘berry’ big mess, I later on found photos of other people’s brulee on Instagram it was plated out much nicer than this.

Banoffee cheesecake banana, chocolate shavings and dulce de leche ($14.00). After the debacle of his first dessert, TimmyC had tasted his friend’s dessert and decided that this would be his replacement dessert, although after it was given to him I pointed out that the first dessert had vanilla bean ice cream and his had mango which didn’t really tie in with his caramelised banana and dulce de leche. I called the waitress over again who was scared something else went wrong, I just told her about the flavours of ice cream and she said that it wouldn’t be a problem to give him vanilla bean ice cream and that it was rather delicious and he had to try it. The third plate of dessert was brought to him and TimmyC just wanted it to be good so he could just enjoy his dessert. The caramelised banana and looked beautiful and went very well with the ice cream and dulce de leche, but I found the cheesecake itself a bit bland and out-of-place. TimmyC really liked the pop rocks.

Dark chocolate tart chocolate mousse, honeycomb and vanilla bean gelato ($14.00).Petit fours homemade delicacies ($8.00). After having one and a half meals, I thought I would be conservative and order the petit fours while also gauging TimmyC’s dessert if it wasn’t enough. Tonight’s petit fours consisted of a chocolate bonbon it was dark chocolate and therefore was really intense and left a slightly bitter cocoa aftertaste in my mouth; chocolate brownie this wasn’t decadent at all regardless of its small size, which I found as a refreshing surprise; Turkish delight I don’t usually like Turkish delight but I found myself eating most of this morsel and a raspberry in chantilly cream mini tart I saved this for my last bite because of the fresh raspberry which I adore, berries pair perfectly with cream so it was a match made in heaven.What turned out to be a complimentary flat white coffee.

Despite the sour, or should I say salty note that the meal ended on, I didn’t love Marble and Grain because there wasn’t anything that made them unique. If you were doing things that were heavily on the meaty side, I expect it to be done really well. The service was wonderful and attentive, the mains are okay but the starters and entrée were the star of the night which only meant the rest of the night went down hill from there. It would probably be a nice place to go for after work drinks and nibbles.

Venue: Marble and Grain

Address: Avenue Hotel 25 Mort Street, Braddon, Canberra ACT 2606

Phone02 6246 9555

Opening hoursMonday – Sunday  6:00AM – 12:00AM

Websitewww.marbleandgrain.com.au/
Marble & Grain on Urbanspoon

The District re-run

As my friends and I were planning yet another trip overseas together (when you travel well together, you may as well stick together), an essential part of our planning involves eating dinner first, followed by dessert and then eventually some planning with some random YouTube videos in between. We went to The District because it was close by and we enjoyed our meal there last time.

Margarita pizza with Napolitana sauce, mozzarella and fresh basil ($16.90). A simple pizza topping flavour but it was nice and fresh and I like their pizza base.Champagne chicken risotto with bacon, mushroom and parmesan ($24.90). A rich heavy bowl of cheesy comfort food.Chicken schnitzel with beer battered fries and salad ($18.90). Nothing too fantastic but the gravy that we ordered was ridiculously salty and so we asked for mushroom gravy and they were happy to give us another sauce for free.Specials~

Surf and turf I really enjoyed the hollandaise sauce but I didn’t like the dried, shriveled seafood mix that was  placed on top, they should just stick with the big prawns. The steak was a bit tough and dry but I don’t know if it is because Chifley’s has just ruined me for life.Seafood chowder with penne pasta. There was a nice mix of seafood in the chowder and I liked how the sauce had a nice chilli kick to it. I like the family feel of The District and I also like how it is tucked away out in the suburbs, I hope more establishments like this pop up in suburbia shops.

See my previous blog post about The District here.

Chifley’s Bar and Grill

People have always asked me where to find a good steak in Canberra but unfortunately I’ve had more disappointments than recommendations. Finally I can let people know, if you want a good steak, go to Chifley’s in Hotel Kurrajong.

We were greeted at the door of the hotel and asked if we had a reservation before being led into the restaurant and to our table.

The lovely hotel lobby at Hotel Kurrajong.IMG_8085.JPGThe dining room is separated into three areas, we were initially seated with a lot of the other patrons near the entrance but we asked to be moved to another table for better lighting and seating. I found towards the end of the night that the initial section almost looked like people were sitting in the dark, I’m glad that we moved.IMG_8086.JPGMojito ($18.00).IMG_8097.JPGComplimentary and butter. It was a delicious sour dough bread accompanied by the cutest serves of pepe saya butter that I’ve ever seen.IMG_8100.JPGStarters~

Master Kobe Flank Beef Carpacio fried liliput capers, pecorino sardo, salsa verde ($15.00). The beef took a back seat in terms of flavours in comparison to the other elements of the dish. I’m not usually a fan of capers but these fried liliput capers had an amazing crunchy texture which were bursting with flavour and not too salty. The amazing flavours for me came from the beautiful olive oil that they used, I even had to ask what it was because I loved it so much (they said it was Morello by the way).IMG_8107.JPGSeared Hervey Bay scallops shaved iberico de bellota paletila, jerusalem artichoke crisps, spring pea puree ($19.00). The flavours were really nice and there was a nice crunch to the crisps, I just didn’t think that the scallops had enough seared texture to them but TimmyC really liked this dish.IMG_8106.JPGSteaks~

All steaks are served with a celeriac puree and your choice of sauce.

Sauce choices include: red wine jus, pink peppercorn and tarragon jus, cafe de Paris, classic beef jus, horseradish aioli and fresh perigord truffle jus (+$10.00).IMG_8090.JPGTajima Wagyu Lidcome NSW

300g Rump Cap/ 500 day grain fed 7+ ($42.00) with cafe de Paris sauceIMG_8115.JPGSher Waygu F1 – Ballan, Vic

350g rib eyes (dry aged 60 days) 300+ day ration fed 5+ ($57.00) with  pink peppercorn and tarragon jus.IMG_8116.JPGI’m usually a huge fan of peppercorn sauce (pictured) but after tasting the fresh perigord truffle jus, I just couldn’t go back.IMG_8120.JPG

300g Scotch fillet 300+ day ration fed 5+ ($38.00) with pink peppercorn and tarragon jus. I asked for my steak to be cooked medium rare and it came out beautiful, juicy and incredibly tasty. It was all good until I tasted TimmyC’s steak and sauce.
We were provided with Laguiole steak knife, a French cutlery brand which carved through the steaks with ease.
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 A cross section of my steak before I took my first bite.IMG_8127.JPGDavid Blackmore Wagyu Alexandra, Vic

300g Rump 600+ day ration fed 9+ ($52.00) with fresh perigord truffle jus (+$10.00). My mistake was taking a bite of TimmyC’s steak in between eating my steak, I almost immediately got steak envy and kept watching and waiting for him to get full so I could swoop in and eat the rest of his steak. A lot of the time, paying more for a steak doesn’t mean it is better but I feel in this case it was. There was marbling throughout the steak as well as tasty bits of fat around the sides. Also after tasting TimmyC’s sauce meant I didn’t like my pink peppercorn jus afterwards but he was nice enough to let me sparingly use it on my steak and chips.IMG_8111.JPGSides~ (all sides are $8.00).

After choosing all the sides, I realised I chose two types of onions and two types of potato. Ooops, my bad.

Onion rings. I really disliked the thick batter around these onion rings, I have had better from a cafe a few days earlier, I found these disappointing and I wouldn’t order these again.IMG_8125.JPGPomme fries. Yes it is just a fancy way to say shoe string fries but they were served hot and well salted which is all you could ask for. A great side to dip into your sauce and accompany your steak.IMG_8122.JPGParis mash. Only every so slightly gritty in texture but it wasn’t buttery and delicious like I’m used to with most Paris mash, it must have been a healthier version.IMG_8121.JPGCaramelised Spanish onion with pangratatta. My preferred onion side of the two but I still could have done without it.IMG_8124.JPGDessert~

The waiters had been attentive all night but after leaving us with the dessert menu we looked around the dining area and with only three tables with patrons left, there was no one around to serve us. We waited long enough for us to contemplate having dessert elsewhere, but I’m glad we stayed.

Which dessert would you have chosen?IMG_8130.JPGPassionfruit souffle with passionfruit sorbet ($18.00). The passionfruit sorbet packed a punch and upon tasting it, we all made a face like we just sucked a lemon. It was intense and I thought the flavours would lend it self better to a vanilla based dessert rather than more passionfruit. The souffle itself was very light and had a distinct passionfruit taste, easily one of the nicest souffles I have ever eaten.IMG_8133.JPGThe souffle had a great airy light texture.IMG_8137.JPGVanilla panna cotta macerated strawberries and hazelnut tuiles ($16.00). Wow, if this dessert had a bum, it could twerk like mad! We spent the better half of 5 minutes watching our dessert hypnotically jiggling about on the plate. It had an incredible smooth texture with a distinct sweet vanilla flavour and I love how the vanilla beans are dispersed throughout and not just stuck on the top.IMG_8135.JPGWe received the bill and lucky we double check as some of the steaks were overcharged.

It was hard to navigate ourselves around the menu, the steak choices on the list are extensive so we just chose based on favourite cuts and marbling score. We were told we wouldn’t get a bad steak here and after the meal we all collectively agreed. I love how they cook their specialty well and the fabulous desserts were a pleasant surprise.

Venue: Chifley’s Bar and Grill

AddressHotel Kurrajong, 8 National Circuit Barton, ACT

Phone: 02 6234 4444

Chifley's Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Human flyer – Hogs Breath

Trust me, a franchise was not my first choice for dinner while showing an interstate guest around. We had been pretty lucky with the food so far with it being a public holiday (see brunch and lunch here) and all we were looking for to finish off the day was some delicious meat. Smoque had promised to be opened but we were really disappointed when we were greeted with closed doors. I didn’t have a plan B because their FB page had promised me delicious ribs and wings.

We did a lap around the Sydney and Melbourne building and with not much open, we decided to head to Hogs Breath down in Baileys Arcade where we knew we could get a steak and who doesn’t love a curly fry. When we arrived, I was quite surprised to find it so busy despite the early time.

Cheesy Garlic & Herb Bread Cheesy Garlic & Herb Bread topped with cheddar cheese and grilled to golden brown ($7.95). I don’t understand how you can toast bread, burn the edges while having some bread soft and soggy from the butter. A shame because who doesn’t love a good cheesy garlic bread.IMG_5827.JPGHickory Smoked Prime Rib A real Tex-Mex flavour. Seared and topped with a hickory smoked BBQ sauce on the char grill (Lite Cut $24.95). We all chose lite cuts because we had lunch not long ago. A tender steak cooked to my liking covered in a thick hickory smoked BBQ sauce. It wasn’t an American BBQ but it still satisfied a meat craving that we all had.IMG_5828.JPGService was prompt and attentive, we were able to get to the airport easily without waiting around for food or service.

As for Smoque, I always assume a FB page is accurate as they are always active on their account. It turns out that they had cool room problems over the weekend which forced them to shut on the Monday and they offered a few disappointed patrons some vouchers which is nice.

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

Outback Jacks bar and grill

—–15 Dec 2013—–

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

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

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

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

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That’s not a knife, this is a knife!

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

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

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Entrees~

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

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Mains~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Desserts~

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

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

Where’s the sauce?

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

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

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

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

Venue: Outback Jacks Bar and Grill

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

Phone: (02) 6251 8381

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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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