California cafe

TimmyC has had a deep love for waffles ever since he came back from his America trip, so when I heard that there was a ‘takeaway diner’ in Mawson I took him there immediately. California Cafe has joined the many other cafes that have popped in recent years which has made Mawson a hive of activity and a location full of choice. Not as many cafes are open on a Sunday but luckily the diner was. TimmyC is a bit of a snob when it comes to waffles, he dislikes pre-made rock hard ones (but who doesn’t) and would prefer them to have deep wells so all the syrup and ice cream catch in the pockets.

There were waffles and pancakes on the breakfast menu served with bacon, banana and maple syrup, so TimmyC was set; although it was early I felt like a cheeseburger from this diner. We went to order at the counter and TimmyC’s first question was “do you make the waffles in-house?”, the waitress answered no, “do you make the pancakes from batter?” which I thought was a stupid question until it was also met with a ‘no’; he opted for an eggs benedict instead.The cake cabinet should have been my first clue not to eat here, can you see the huge chunks of carrot in the carrot cake?While we were waiting for our food, the woman next to us had ordered the waffles and she was super excited when three thick store-bought waffles topped with bacon and banana was placed in front of her. I had noticed that she shared some with her Mum and even then they only finished half a waffle each which meant there was plenty still left on the plate after they left.Caramel thick shake ($7.00). We watched them make this and it had tonnes of ice-cream in it and there was just enough topping without making me feel sick. YUM!Coffee (lge ($4.00). TimmyC said it was okay coffee. They also serve a ‘jumbo’ size here.Eggs benedict eggs with bacon on a sour dough roll with hollandaise sauce ($14.90). The hollandaise was nice enough but still tasted like it was bottled sauce and I’m a bit confused as to why there were unseasoned chips on the plate. A very underwhelming breakfast when I promised TimmyC waffles from a diner. I don’t see exactly what the kitchen is cooking when the sauce is from a jar, the waffles and pancakes are store-bought and the chips are from frozen packets.The plates that they serve on are massive.Cheeseburger with fries ($8.90). I was really disappointed with my burger, it was an okay patty drowned in tomato sauce and mustard topped with a plastic (at least melted) slice of cheese. Don’t get me wrong, I love plastic cheese but I couldn’t taste much of anything other than mustard and tomato sauce. The chips were hot and seasoned with something that I couldn’t pick, it reminded me of mamee noodle snacks. The thick shake helped with washing the acidity of the sauces from my mouth.

I couldn’t taste anything other than sauce.  The diner was getting busy with lots of staff from neighbouring business coming in for takeaway so some people obviously enjoy the food here but with so much better choices in the area, I won’t be coming back.

Venue: California Cafe

Address: 4 Southlands Shopping Centre, Mawson ACT 2607

Opening hours:

Monday – Friday 7:30am – 8:00pm

Saturday – Sunday (and public holidays) 8:00am – 3:00pm
The California Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Work fridges are the worst

 

Okay this is a photo of my home fridge, no way would a work fridge have beer in it and survive several hours. I didn’t have time to take a photo of my work fridge that I cleared out yesterday before our big move as I was trying not to breathe in the mould spores and  gag at the smells that it emitted but TimmyC suggested it was a funny story that I should write about.

A photo of my home fridge- it isn’t perfect, I think a jam jar and a few sauce bottles have been sitting in there for a while but it can’t compete to what I saw yesterday. p.s. this was just before a party, we are not alcoholics 😉IMG_6267

After a very long week of packing everything we own in our lab from lab coats and glassware down to the liquid hand soaps, I was not looking forward to cleaning out the work fridge. I think I found cleaning out our chemical room filled with hazardous substances and dangerous goods less confronting than the ‘hazardous substances’ that sit in a communal fridge in our tea room. I won’t mention every terrifying item but a few things definitely have haunted me more than others.

Firstly, half a raw cauliflower wrapped in cling wrap (who brings in for a lunch?!). At first it didn’t look too bad, what was once white florets now appeared a general grey speckled with black spots but when flipped over, it revealed a mixture of pink, grey and black with white furry textures. What the?! I threw it straight in the bin, I didn’t dare unwrap it for the compost bucket at work.

The next item was a boiled egg that had now been slightly punctured due to weeks (possibly months) of neglect and being battered around while people try to squeeze their lunch in towards the back of the fridge. At first I thought someone had brought in a blown egg to make a decorated egg but no, when picked up, it still had weight to it. That is gross. The egg was sitting next to its buddy, good ol’ 1/4 eaten avocado. I don’t know what they were saving the rest for but it was safe to say, it was no longer viable as a lunch option.

In the middle was a lot of stale bread, left over Oportos, old sauce bottles, left over smooshed cake, lots of bottles of water (bottles were emptied and recycled, it was the only thing that I could salvage from the fridge) and rotten fruit. Also included was stains and juices of whatever was liquifying in the fridge that eventually dripped onto the bottom tray, which was fun to clean.

The last item which was probably not too bad because it was ‘contained’, was a little yoghurt tub. Sure the lid did look a little puffy but at least it remained sealed. I looked at the top for the expiry date… 20th November, ‘oh it’s still good’… 2013 :/

Please tell me dear readers that you have a similar situation at your work place and I cannot be the only one working with slobs and absent-minded people who leave so much stuff in the fridge to rot.

Persian Mawlana Restaurant

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

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

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I really liked their cutlery, very unusual.

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

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

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

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

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Entrees~

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

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

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

Actual mains~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Venue: Persian Mawlana Restaurant

Address: 14 Woolley St, Dickson, ACT

Phone: 02 6247 4447

Persian Mawlana on Urbanspoon

Bean and Grain – new owners

The clock ticks over another minute, my eyes dart between the time and the road in front of us. TimmyC promised me breakfast from Bean and Grain and I wasn’t going to miss out, it was the only reason why I got up so (relatively) early out of bed that morning. We were cutting it fine to make it for the breakfast menu but I remained hopeful.

Great! We get a park relatively quickly and we jump out of the car dodging an older woman, pram and trolleys. It was like the world was deliberately trying to sabotage my breakfast plans. “Are you still doing breakfast!?” I asked with a hopeful look in my eye. “Yes breakfast is on until midday” the guy behind the register replied. “Oh I thought breakfast ended at 11:30am?”. We were then informed that the previous owners had gone under receivership and now there were new owners with a renovation. I was secretly hoping that it was the same people and that the shut down period was just a slight delay before they got back on their feet. Let’s see how the new owners are going.

I looked around, there were a lot of changes mixed in with some familiarity. Gone is the big wooden bench outside, coffee roaster, sausage rolls and pies, the seats were different and sadly the previous owners took their frozen yoghurt machine with them. Noooo!  

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The new chairs are super uncomfortable if you have any hips at all.20131215-113531.jpg

Even all the beautiful pottery plates, cups etc were gone.

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Belgian waffles with whipped butter and maple syrup ($16.00). They ran out of whipped butter but offered me alternatives, I ended up choosing ice-cream. When I saw this, the first thing I thought was ‘oh no, the previous owners took their waffle iron too!’, my second thought was then ‘is this from the Breville waffle iron?” . Comparatively, these waffles were terrible (see waffle porn here) and upon first bite they could have easily been mistake for McDonald’s hotcakes. No crispness to them, barely a dash of  syrup and it tasted like cheap watery ice-cream. Disappointing if you didn’t know any better (i.e. never had the waffles from here before) but satisfying enough if you’re a kid and you don’t really mind the soft texture to your waffle.

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Classic Eggs Benedict 2 poached eggs on house made sourdough with wilted spinach and freshly made hollandaise sauce ($15.00, ham was additional cost). This was much better than the waffles, although switching between dishes you start to notice that the spinach and ham are rather salty. The hollandaise sauce itself was a bit vinegary but was masked when you had a fork full of everything together. I really liked their sourdough bread.

20131215-113312.jpgThe egg yolk wasn’t runny but still molten.

20131215-113349.jpgSadly, I’m going to have to take this off my ‘favourite’ listing in Urbanspoon. All my favourite meals and added bonuses (like the rosti and smoothie shots) have all been taken away and replaced by mediocrity. I wouldn’t get up out of bed and rush here again any time soon. I hope they improve.

Jimmy’s Saigon Vietnamese restaurant

We needed a quick bite before our show at the Canberra theatre and there were a lot of places I wanted to try in Civic, one of them was Jimmy’s Saigon Vietnamese restaurant situated where Sammy’s used to be. We didn’t need a booking but the place was filling up as we were seated.

Vietnamese pork spring rolls (2 rolls $5.00). Served nice and hot, a promising start to the meal.
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Fresh Vietnamese rice paper rolls with shredded pork (2 rolls $6.00). Shredded pork is so much better than prawns, you guys should try it!

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Flaming beef with hoisin sauce ($16.00). Good theatrics with the flames around bowl, too bad they used a black bean sauce instead of hoisin which was really overwhelming and the beef was a little tough.

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Lemon grass and chilli pork ($16.00). The pork wasn’t very tender, I could barely taste the lemon grass and it was intensely salty.  

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Steamed fish fillets with spicy ginger and vermicelli ($20.00). My favourite dish of the night by comparison. The fish fillet was light and tender with a nice amount of ginger on it and was better when you scraped away the black beans.

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Ordering proved a little difficult with one of the waiters when he was struggling with the names of the dishes while we were ordering even when we tried to give him the dish number. They didn’t have our first preference of ‘crispy whole flounder fish with ginger and fish sauce’ so they suggested a close alternative which was nice.

Overall I found all the main dishes waaaay too salty and usually I can eat a lot of salt, so I won’t be coming back to eat their main dishes although I might try their pho or steam boats eventually.

Venue: Jimmy’s Saigon Vietnamese restaurant

Address: Ground Floor, Garema Centre, Bunda St, Canberra ACT 2601

Phone: (02) 6162 0033

Jimmy's Saigon on Urbanspoon

5 Senses Gourmet bar

A lot of people ask me where I like to eat south side Canberra, truth be told, I don’t usually eat much past Woden and I know I should really change that, so I was super proud of myself when I headed to the HyerD and tried 5 Senses Gourmet bar for their all day breakfast. It is one of the busier cafes in Tuggeranong which seemed promising, there is a lot of natural light coming through and the place is nice and open.

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Pancakesbanana, fresh strawberries and your choice of maple syrup or chocolate sauce ($12.90). TimmyC saw pancakes and decided straight away that was what he wanted when the waitress asked for coffee orders, I still had barely finished looking at the menu and said I would need 2 minutes to decide. Apparently that meant his order of pancakes went through and he got his straight after I ordered. I eat so slow that TimmyC really didn’t need a head start. What probably made his order so fast also was because that the pancakes were pre-made and they were microwaved, no one makes pancakes that fast and to add to all that, it was maple flavoured syrup and not the real thing.

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Scrambled eggs on sourdough toast with home made baked beans and ricotta ($15.90) and a side of bacon ($3.50). Tell me you didn’t look at the bacon and thought it was the weirdest colour in the world. It has the colour of corned beef, no flavour, hard to stab my fork through it and it was hard to cut. Worst “bacon” ever! The ricotta, sourdough and eggs on the other hand was okay just needed some seasoning.

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The promise of ‘home made’ baked beans was the deal breaker of why I chose this dish and when I put the first bite in my mouth, I could tell it was Heinz baked beans instantly, after that I didn’t bother eating any more of it. IMG_5588

The coffee was apparently mediocre according to TimmyC.

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It has a nice location, family friendly and afforable but the food was lacklustre and sub par. There were so many ‘lies’ on the menu, I don’t think I would come back, I would rather drive to Pialligo for brunch.

Venue: 5 Senses Gourmet Cafe Bar

Address: Tuggeranong Hyperdome, 150 Anketell St, Tuggeranong ACT 2600

Phone: (02) 6293 4550

5 Senses Gourmet bar on Urbanspoon

Seasalt dining

I had first heard of Seasalt dining when was first added to the Entertainment book (2013/2014) and I was super excited because it was supposed to specialise in steak and seafood-  these are a few of my favourite things .

Since then, I had been to Seasalt dining once before and I thought that maybe because I chose a pasta was why I was disappointed. I was told by other people that the seafood platter was good, so I remained optimistic and took a friend out to Bruce to try Seasalt dining’s seafood platter for two.

Garlic bread ($4.20) not included in the platter.

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Seasalt Seafood platter for two Chef’s selection of grilled fish, Thai fish cakes, Cajun calamari, Kilpatrick oysters, seared scallops and prawns served with salad and chips ($59.80).

Kilpatrick oysters – the oyster’s natural flavours were overwhelmed by the Worcestershire sauce and I think it would have been better if they were left under the grill a little longer.

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They chips were served hot and one of the best things of the night and that can’t be good.

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Seared scallops and Cajun calamari– The scallops were rather nice with a good sear served with a bit of sweet jam (?) but too bad that they were served barely luke warm, actually nothing was particularly hot. How long was the food sitting around before it was served to us when there was next to no one in the restaurant? The Cajun calamari was one of the most disgusting calamari that I’ve ever eaten, the batter had a weird taste to it and the texture itself was chewy and hard to bite.

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Grilled fish – I was surprised that there was only one fillet to share between two people. The fish wasn’t too bad, just barely seasoned but very light and not oily.

Thai fish cakes – the most blandest, pale ‘supposed Thai fish cakes’ that I’ve ever eaten.

Prawns – drenched in overwhelming garlic creamy sauce.

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Home-made sticky date pudding with vanilla ice cream ($11.80). The best thing of the night, a warm well made pudding with a very rich butterscotch sauce. I’m glad that the night ended on a good note.

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Despite the service’s attentive friendly nature, the food was sub par and some parts were completely inedible. I’ve been here twice to try a variety of things and I would not come back or recommend this restaurant.

Venue: Seasalt Dining

Address: 85/15 Braybrooke St Bruce ACT 2617

Phone: (02) 6162 1617

Entertainment book: Yes, it’s in the book!

Seasalt Dining on Urbanspoon

Barbeque Nation

I’m always up for trying new places, even if one of my favourite Indian restaurants was across the road, I was ready to give BBQ Nation in Erindale a chance. I was surprised to see it was run by the people who used to run a small Indian takeaway in Kambah village, ‘Treats of India‘.

I was disappointed that with a name like ‘barbeque nation’ that it was just a typical Indian restaurant with no extra ‘BBQed’ menu items.

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A clean set up with easy access parking.

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Mango lassi ($5.00). A lovely smooth lassi that wasn’t overly sweet. 

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Patti samosa (2pcs mild) tasty deep fried triangular pastries filled with spiced lamb served with tamarind sauce ($7.00). A moist filling with a crispy pastry that went really well with the tamarind sauce.

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Chicken lollipops (med/hot) spicy chicken wings ($9.90). These weren’t spicy at all but I don’t know if that is because we asked for all the curries to be mild/medium. They tasted like tandoori chicken, nothing too special here even if I love chicken wings.

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Butter chicken (mild) boneless chicken pieces simmered in a makhani sauce ($16.50). A creamy butter chicken sauce but it is no where near as good as Punjabi Hut.

Aloo gobhi (med/hot) cauliflower and potatoes stir fry with cumin seeds, ginger and garlic paste. Season with selected north Indian spices ($15.50). I was quite surprised with this dish. Even  though it is more of a stir fry than a curry with sauce, it was one of my favourite dishes.

Palak paneer (mild) home made cheese with fresh English spinach ($15.50). I couldn’t really taste the paneer in this dish so it felt very bland.

Beef Korma a mild preparation of ground roasted cashew nuts, hint of spices and fresh cream ($16.90). Not the best korma that I’ve had, it wasn’t particularly flavoursome.

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Naan – cheese ($4.00) and garlic ($3.50). Served nice and hot, they weren’t stingy with the cheese or garlic which was nice.

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Although the service was attentive and the food was served fast, overall the food was very mediocre and I don’t think I would come back here.

Venue: BBQ Nation

Address: 4/33, Gartside Street, Erindale, Wanniassa, ACT 2903

Phone: (02) 6296 6608

Websitehttp://www.barbequenation.com.au/

Opening hours: Dinner only

Monday – Sunday: 5pm – 10pm

Barbeque Nation Indian Grill on Urbanspoon

A Phat fail

——-04/08/2012——-

When I saw The Phat Burger Cafe in the Entertainment book I was super excited as I was hoping that it was a hidden gem that was going to be the next new upcoming ‘Brodburger’. So at the first chance I grab Timmy enticing him with their all day breakfast menu.

From the website:

“Homemade food (yes made on the premise with fresh ingredients) that fills the belly and gives you that satisfaction only a good meal can. Even a variety of Romanian meals to chose from (check the website regularly).

All day Breakfast, (all day every day) fresh free range eggs, lots of bacon and a variety of sides topped off with a hot Kaldi Coffee.”

The first impression wasn’t great when I thought the woman who took our order was really rude with an attitude without a cause. When we go to order pancakes, she sighs and tells us there is limited items left of the breakfast menu and pancakes aren’t available. I thought that was disappointing considering they go out of their way to mention “All day Breakfast, (all day every day) ” on their website. We order our food and go sit down. Luckily for us our beverages were served by another woman who was really polite and friendly, although that did mean the angry woman was cooking our food.

Kaldi coffee ($4.20) better than average coffee and an average caramel milkshake ($4.00). 

When we are served our food by the first server she informs us that the cutlery is near the cash registers but I noticed when the friendly lady was serving she would get cutlery for the patrons.

The Phat burger temptation homemade beef patty, tasty cheese, tomato, beetroot, caramelised onion, tomato relish and lettuce ($9.95) The roll wasn’t toasted at all which didn’t really add to the appeal and using Turkish bread seemed way to filling so I ditched the top half way through.  I wasn’t particularly fond of the patty but all the salad seemed very fresh. All and all, it wasn’t a good burger which is such a shame when you’ve based the name of the cafe over this menu item.

Eggs benedict free-range poached eggs served on toasted English muffin with bacon and hollandaise sauce ($16.95) I don’t see how my big burger is $10 and this tiny ‘bacon and egg roll’ is $17.00?(!) and if that wasn’t bad enough the hollandaise tasted truly terrible like an off mayonnaise, we had to scrape it all off. Such a disappointment!

Vanilla slice ($5.00) This was the first vanilla slice that I didn’t finish. I was hoping that the sweets from the store would be its redeeming quality but alas I was just as disappointed.

A lot of people dropped by for a coffee while we were there and the occasional person would order a cake. I understand that some people have bad days and I would go back to try some sweets but I wouldn’t bother with their hot food.

Venue: The Phat Burger Cafe

Address: Farrer Shops, Farrer Place, Farrer, ACT 2607

Phone: (02) 62901086

Entertainment voucher: luckily I used mine as I don’t know if I’ll be coming back.

Phat Burger Cafe on Urbanspoon