Agostini’s

I had such high hopes for Agostini’s, the latest Italian restaurant to open in the Canberra dining scene. The lure of their pink sign and the promise of handmade pasta and authentic pizza easily convinced me to have one of my birthday celebrations there with some close friends.When I had booked two weeks ahead for a Monday night, I thought I was being super organised. It caught me by surprise when I saw that we were expected to leave after two hours for the next booking. I assumed they were super busy and I would endeavour to eat as fast as I could. It turns out that we weren’t rushed at all, there must be a two hour allocated seating time for bookings through Dimmi.

I liked the spacious dining area, it allows for larger groups and even as a table of four, I didn’t feel that we were sitting on top of each other.Entrees~

Calamari fritti lightly fried calamari served with an aioli of grilled lemon & mint ($15.00). Not chewy but nothing special and a tad too salty for my liking.Frico a typical dish from the Friuli region of Italy. Paper thin layers of Montasio cheese & potato, oven roasted to form a heavenly, crunchy, chewy morsel ($10.00). We were all curious to see what this would look like and was surprised to see it so flat despite the description. I think the reason why I enjoyed it so much is that it reminds me of the crunchy part of a lasagna- think a thicker parmesan wafer.Margherita bufala pizza bufala mozzarella, Agostinis’ spice & basil ($22.00). Their pizza bases are really good with good quality toppings. We really enjoyed this.Mains~

Napolitana pizza anchovies, olives, capers, Fior di Latte mozzarella & basil ($22.00) with a request to top it off with rocket ($2.00). My friend really enjoyed his pizza, I think the rocket helped balance all the salty components.Lasagne al ragu classic Italian lasagne with slow cooked wagyu beef, sandwiched between handmade pasta sheets & topped with grated Reggiano Parmigiano ($25.00). I was very disappointed with my lasagne, it had no flavour. Frankly, I’ve had better lasagne from my supermarket.Fusilli funghi corkscrew shaped pasta with mushroom ragù with scamorza cheese & thyme ($22.00). The most flavoursome out of all the pasta dishes on the table but I thought it needed a lot more sauce and ingredients to cover the pasta as some mouthfuls seemed like I was eating plain pasta.Spaghetti alla marinara vongole, prawns, fish, vino bianco, cherry tomatoes, chilli, garlic & parsley ($28.00). This seriously lacked flavour. No salt, no chilli, no garlic; it was just bland and disappointing. The spaghetti felt a tad too thick and it was over cooked therefore it almost had the consistency of tinned spaghetti. Shame, I had high hopes for this dish.Desserts~

Affogato House-made vanilla gelato served with an espresso & your choice of digestivo: Cafe Patron XO Tequila, Frangelico or Grappa ($15.00). My friend requested to omit the digestive and we were still charged the full amount. That is one expensive coffee shot!Gelati choice of 3 flavours – vanilla, coffee liquor, chocolate peanut butter ($10.00). They had some strange choices (cherry salted caramel?) but we opted for these flavours, which were very nice. It is probably best to clarify the flavour choices as we thought there was a cherry flavour and a salted caramel flavour, not one flavour with cherry and salted caramel combined.Agostinis’ tiramisu made to order… savoiardi biscuits, freshly brewed coffee, mascarpone & chocolate mousse ($12.00). This definitely made your eyes widen as your hit that base that started to pool with coffee. Being made to order meant that there were some crunchy parts of the tiramisu which I thought was a bit odd. My friend and I ordered one each and if you add the part that I had eaten with the part that she had eaten, we wouldn’t have even finished one portion. It was too strong, too much mascarpone and too OTT.

I found the service really terrible. No one was rude or unpleasant but they needed constantly prompting. Can we have more water? Can we get cheese for the pasta? Can we get more wine? On top of that, we found ourselves needing to ask more than once because no one came back for almost 20 minutes. For a restaurant that wasn’t terribly busy, I felt that we were forgotten about A LOT.

I won’t be rushing back here in a hurry, but I would come back for their pizza and hope that their pasta and service improves.

Venue: Agostini’s

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

Phone: (02) 6178 0048

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

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Hofbräuhaus

I was starting to sense a little self sabotage. Why is it after a day of feasting that I chose to eat German cuisine, which have such meaty substantial portions. I didn’t think that I was that full after our late lunch reservation at Dinner By Heston Blumenthal but after ordering all the bread/crumbed starters that I wanted to try at Hofbräuhaus, I was starting to test the limits of my stomach trying to fit in my main.

Like all good things in Melbourne, Hofbräuhaus is tucked down a little laneway near China town.Inside the Hofbrahaus is warm and inviting. Lots of large tables celebrating occasions or just indulging in the enormous sizes of beer that they serve, while a live band plays in the background which adds to the European tavern feel.

My friend ordered one litre of beer, that is possibly why he struggled to finish his main.Langosch Haus-made freshly baked and fried garlic bread, sprinkled with sea salt ($9.50). I would have loved some cheese sprinkled on top but they were still very moreish and were quickly devoured.Gebackener camembert crumbed baked Camembert cheese served with lingonberry compote ($14.50). You have to enjoy this while it is hot.Bretzel freshly baked Bavarian pretzel served with butter ($5.50).Kasekrainer traditional kranksy filled with cheese ($25.50). I love cheese kranksy and this was a good one! Even though I was very full, it didn’t stop me from finishing it with the help of TimmyC.Rindergoulasch traditional Hungarian-style beef stew on haus-made German egg noodles served in an iron pan ($29.50). My friend really enjoyed this, I think if you want a hearty meal without the huge chunks of meat, this is the meal for you.Knuspriger schweinbauch oven roasted crispy pork belly on braised red cabbage, served with bread dumpling, bier jus and apple compote ($39.50).Schweinshax’n huge Bavarian pickled roasted pork knuckle on a bed of sauerkraut and mashed potatoes with haus-made pork jus and German mustard ($43.50). A gigantic pork knuckle with all the trimmings. My friend didn’t finish this but he made a large dent.Bratwurst the classic world famous German pork sausage ($25.50).I really enjoyed the casual warm atmosphere of Hofbräuhaus and it was conveniently located in the city. There are a lot of places in eat in Melbourne but if you feel like German food, I would recommend coming here.

Venue: Hofbräuhaus

Address: 18-28 Market Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000

Phone(03) 9663 3361

Websitewww.hofbrauhaus.com.au

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

Katers restaurant 

We had just booked our accommodation in Bowral when I saw the Groupon voucher that was an absolute steal for Katers restaurant at Peppers Manor House. The deal included three courses and a bottle of wine for $85.00 for two people.

We were slightly amused with our waitress. She was an older woman who didn’t seem too fussed that the restaurant was really busy and had a very blasé attitude about everything as she casually pottered about.

Groupon voucher: three courses and a bottle of wine for $85.00 for two people, but I’ve written the prices from the menu.

The white and red wine options that are included in the Groupon voucher.Complimentary bread and butter~

The bread was served warm and there was plenty of butter, the perfect combination!Amuse bouche~

Rockmelon with goats cheese, ash and prosciutto. When I asked our blasé waitress about where the prosciutto was, she simply shrugged and said she would ask the kitchen but she never came back with an answer.Entrees~

Seared scallops and Rodriquez spiced chorizo, roasted cauliflower puree, squid ink meringue, coriander oil ($24.00). These scallops were much plumper than the ones we had at lunch and it has been a while since I’ve had such delicious scallops. The chorizo was also very nice, while the puree really help meld all the strong flavours together. We were very happy with our entree and were quite excited for what was to come.Confit quail terrine, toffee parsnip, spear, watercress, cumin ($23.00).Mains~

Pan seared duck breast, kumara, hazelnut crumble, cherry glaze, whiskey coffee gel ($40.00). My friend joked and asked where the rest of his carrots were as they mostly appeared to be the tops. I jokingly replied that they were on the lamb dishes.Maugers lamb back strap, braised baby leek, roasted garlic crushed, roasted Kipfler potato, eggplant caviar, chilli fig, rosemary jus ($39.00). I was really disappointed with the portion sizes; there was just two tiny pieces of lamb for almost 40 bucks, I’m glad we came in with a voucher. Marseille bouillabaisse, today’s market fish, cold water langoustine, scallop, saffron rouille ($40.00). I loved the intense prawn head flavour throughout the soup base and it had nice meaty seafood textures to compliment but it is these same aspects that made my friend not like her main. It goes to show each to their own.Desserts~

Chestnut bitter chocolate torte, raspberry egg, espresso and hazelnut ice cream ($21.00).Lemon panna cotta, rhubarb foam, coconut parfait, lime cannoli ($18.00). This had way too much gelatin in it, we could tell from the moment it was placed down in front of us with its stiff movement.Blood orange and almond pudding, lychee sorbet, pomegranate ($21.00). We had to remind the waitress that this dessert came with lychee sorbet and she rushed back into the kitchen to have it added.Toffee apple tea cake, camomile  ice cream ($18.00). I liked how the cake looked like a cross between a toffee apple and a real apple but made the cake very messy and difficult to eat. The cake’s sweetness comes from its sticky toffee coating which was balanced by the ice cream.House cheese: aerated Manuka honey blue, lavender Bergamot, rosemary and thyme labna, local Camembert, local goat’s cheese, selection of breads and crackers ($26.00). The last cheese platter I ate/stole from was amazing (see my post here) but I left most of this on the platter. I found some of the cheese bland while some of the other cheeses were pungent, especially the goats cheese.We definitely got our money’s worth considering my three courses was more expensive than the voucher for two people. The food quality was okay, but definitely nowhere near the calibre of which they had advertised to be (it is supposed to be a hatted restaurant by the Australian Good Food and Travel Guide). It was a shame because they started the night off so strong with our entrees.

I think everything sounded really fancy on paper but the execution missed the mark and therefore the prices are too high for the actual food quality. I wouldn’t come here again considering there is so much good food around the Bowral area.

Venue: Katers restaurant

Address: Kater Rd, Sutton Forest, NSW

Phone: (02) 4860 3102

 

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

Sanur’s Balinese Restaurant

My friend is a huge fan of Balinese food and since she had to use the Entertainment book, it was a winning combination to go to Sanur’s in Belconnen. We went late on a Friday night without a booking and easily got a table for two.

Starters~

Sanur’s deluxe platter for two a platter of mixed spring roll, chicken satay, sweet corn patties and battered prawns ($18.90). When we went to number the platter in order of preference, it varied a little but we agreed that the sweet corn patties were our least favourite (they were a little dry and not much flavour) and the chicken satay was the best thing on the plate (the satay sauce was nice and the chicken was succulent). I was pleasantly surprised that the spring roll had meat inside but my friend didn’t like it because it reminded her of a Chinese spring roll.Mains~Crispy Ayam battered marinated chicken thigh tossed with garlic and aromatic salt ($18.90). This dish was like addictive fried pop corn chicken. I would have preferred a little more garlic and aromatic salt but that didn’t stop us from devouring the whole basket.Gulai Bebek Balinese style yellow duck curry with lychee and Asian vegetables ($21.90). Not my usual go to curry but I really appreciated the curry sauce which had lots of depth to its flavour. Let’s face it, I just needed a good sauce to dip my roti into.Kangkung Pelencing (seasonal) stir fried water spinach with garlic and chilli ($15.90). I love water spinach but ooooh lordy, this was HOT! I’m not the best to gauge chilli heat as my tolerance is low (albiet getting better) but even my friend who loves hot food struggled. Needless to say that most of the dish was left as it was too hot for our palette. I ate a lot of rice after every mouthful.Roti pratha Indonesian style bread, cooked to order and good compliment for curries (2 pieces $5.00). The roti was hot and flaky and went perfectly with the curry just like the description promised.Food came out rather quite promptly and the service was friendly. I was last here almost a year ago for my birthday. I had a banquet with the 10+ people I was dining with and we all had different favourite dishes but we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Don’t forget to use your Entertainment book voucher!
Sanur's Balinese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Courgette 

It has been a while since I’ve last dined at Courgette but a spontaneous lunch was booked with wonderful company, it was an offer too good to refuse.

I’ve always loved their cutlery.Three course lunch ($66.00 per person).

Complimentary bread with smoked butter. This had a magical crunchy exterior with a soft bready interior served warm with amazing butter. This was just bread and butter so I was excited for what was still to come.Entree~ (yes all of us chose the same entree)

In house smoked salmon, seared scallop, fennel sand, cauliflower puree, fermented black garlic. The salmon wasn’t overly smoked or salty which kept the palette rather clean throughout this course. I haven’t had a good scallop for a while and there were two big juicy plump ones on my plate. I was so happy!Main~

Flaked ocean trout, king prawn, baby squid, pea puree, squid ink crumb, pernod beurre blanc.Sous vide Angus beef tenderloin, baby spinach, red cabbage gel, artichoke, thyme and port jus. It might appear too rare for some (inside was quite pink), but the beef was tender and I cut through it effortlessly. A great pairing of flavours on the plate and with a few spoonfuls of the Paris mash, this was the ultimate lunch.Maple glazed muscovy duck breast, couscous, kale, celeriac puree, tomato eggplant relish, prune gel.Sides~

Paris mash ($7.00). Not as buttery and rich as I remember it used to be but still ridiculously smooth and paired perfectly with the beef.

Asparagus, pine nuts, sunflower seeds ($7.00). Cooked perfectly and a great addition to any main meal.Dessert~

Dropped cinnamon apple pie, vanilla bean custard, burnt apple ice cream, toasted oat crumb. The presentation reminds me of Massimo’s dropped pie from Osteria Francescana. It is a classic dessert given a beautiful modern face lift and I loved every mouthful. The perfect winter warmer dessert.Cheese and bickies Guilloteau Buche d’Affinois triple cream Brie, Reypenaer VSOP aged Gouda, Wyngaard Chevre Affine. When my friend said to try some of cheese board, I didn’t envisage myself eating almost half of it, but I found all three cheese delicious and very moreish.This is one of the best meals that I’ve had in Canberra in a long time, one wonders why it took me so long to come back.

Pistachio Express Post

Pistachio tasting plate of entrees scallop, chicken and leek terrine and potato croquette ($19.00). I’m always one for variety so I couldn’t pass on the tasting plate of entrees. I really liked the scallop and the potato croquette, the downside to the tasting plate is wishing that there was a bigger serving size of your favourites.Goat’s chese ravioli corn veloute, slow cooked lamb shoulder and basil oil ($18.00).IMG_0348Mains~ all $30.00

Confit pork belly twice cooked chilli, wilted spinach, coriander, bean shoots, shallots and capsicum. I didn’t like the Asian flavours with such a big piece of pork belly and the skin wasn’t crispy all the way through.IMG_0353Grilled grass fed beef sirloin served medium rare, jacket potato, bacon, sour cream, honey grazed carrots. This was absolutely delicious; all my favourite warm conforting foods on a plate. I just wished it was my main.IMG_0365Sides~ all $8.00

Green beans with toasted almonds and parsley. I’m not one for ordering green beans as a side but I’m so glad that someone did, they were cooked and seasoned perfectly and I almost ate the whole thing myself.IMG_0366Rosemary and garlic roasted chat potatoes. Crispy, crunchy and seasoned to perfection, everything that you would want in a potato.IMG_0368Dessert~ all $15.00

Eaton mess sundae creme Chantilly, almond praline, crushed meringue and almond praline ice cream.IMG_0374Honeycomb cheesecake poached white peach, pistachio and syrup. I loved the flavour combination of this and it wasn’t too heavy. I found that the honeycomb pieces provided a crunchy contrast to the cream cheesecake and poached white peach. IMG_0376

IMG_0375Strawberry cannelloni brick pastry, white chocolate ice ream, freeze fried strawberry.IMG_0380

IMG_0381p.s. Don’t forget to use your Entertainment book!

Red Lantern on Riley

I knew after eating at Quay, the next meal would be really hard to top but Red Lantern in Surry Hills was very memorable and left me feeling excited for the next sequential dish when I thought I wasn’t that hungry.2015/01/img_9138.jpgA modern Asian feel inside. I loved the big centre table that we sat at.2015/01/img_9139.jpgMuc Rang Muoi lightly battered chilli salted squid with fresh lemon and white pepper dipping sauce ($24.50). I didn’t really bother with the dipping sauce as it was rather sour and I thought it was better without it. A very easy to eat dish, I didn’t think I was that hungry but after a bit of pecking, it was all gone.2015/01/img_9151.jpgCuon Thit Nuong soft rice paper rolls of char grilled honey pork neck and Vietnamese herbs ($30.00 for 5 rolls). These were rather quite small and they were filled with more noodles and less herbs than I’m used to. You could still taste the subtle flavours of the pork despite the noodle to everything else ratio. These are pricey when you usually see them at other restaurants at $2-4 a pop instead of $6.2015/01/img_9150.jpgBanh Xeo crisp rice flour crepe filled with master stock pork belly and tiger prawn, served with fresh herbs and lettuce to wrap ($29.50). I’ve eaten my fair share of Vietnamese pancakes but this by far was one of my favourites! The crepe was exceptionally crispy, the pork and prawns were nice but the herbs made the real impact. Despite constant dipping in the sauce, the crepe stayed crispy and added to the crunch along with the lettuce and bean sprouts. Next time I won’t share!2015/01/img_9155.jpg

2015/01/img_9156.jpgBo Luc Lac O’Connor pasture fed English breed beef, strip loin wok tossed with black pepper, garlic, oyster sauce and sesame ($38.00). Although this seemed like a simple dish, it was made very well that it impressed me a lot. What didn’t impress me was the price tag attached.2015/01/img_9158.jpgCa Ri Chay tofu, eggplant and cherry tomato vegetarian yellow curry ($29.50). Vegetarian curry was definitely not my choice but I fell in love with the amount of depth this sauce had. It definitely made me think about the type of curry I would like to develop when I get through my New Year’s resolutions.2015/01/img_9162.jpgCa Kho New Zealand King Salmon fillet in a caramel, chilli and black pepper sauce with Chinese broccoli and sesame crackers ($39.00). Fish isn’t usually my first pick either but Mumsy loves fish and chose this dish. I really liked it. The sticky sweet caramel soy sauce always goes perfectly with salmon.2015/01/img_9160.jpgChuoi Chien Banana fritters crumbed in coconut and white rice with palm sugar caramel, tapioca sauce and vanilla bean ice cream ($16.00). My sister was the only one who wanted a dessert but she let me have a spoonful. The addition of the coconut with the banana makes me think of a cross between a deep-fried ice cream and a banana split.2015/01/img_9165.jpgWe sat at the spacious big table in the centre of the dining area while the other neighbouring booths looked a little snug and the place can get quite noisy. We had to ask for new bowls when we sat down as two of them were dirty; the staff were friendly throughout the night and were attentive with things like water and taking away plates etc.2015/01/img_9147.jpgThe bill came to around $180ish (after Entertainment book discount) between 5 diners, 3 of which just had a large lunch at Quay. Not the cheapest Asian meal but if you ignore the price tag and order the right dishes, you’ll have a wonderful night. There is a snug fitting bar at the back which would be nice to hang out at while waiting for a table.

Venue: Red Lantern on Crown

Address60 Riley St Darlinghurst, NSW

Phone: 02 9698 4355

Entertainment book: Yes! It is in the Sydney one.

Red Lantern on Riley on Urbanspoon

Les bistronomes

In a nutshell, Les bistronomes really disappointed us. Not with the food that we received, that was rather nice, it was because of what was not available from the menu that day.

It was my friend’s birthday and all she wanted was the ‘beef Wellington for two’, she wouldn’t even have cared if she had to eat it all by herself, but between the delay of the convection oven and the huge prep behind the dish, beef Wellington won’t be available til next week. Also by the time we got to dessert, we were informed that they ran out of the creme brulee which had been catching our eye as they went past us all night. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO…  >____<

Canberra’s behaviour is so predictable, new restaurants are always busy to see what all the fuss is about. I hope it is good!IMG_5887.JPGThere wasn’t much difference between the interior of Les Bistronomes and the previous Delissio Brasserie but there were a few subtle hints that reminded you of France.IMG_5888.JPGTo start we were served with some fresh bread (cold) with a smoked tomato butter. The butter was whipped well but the flavours of the tomato and salt were subtle.IMG_5886.JPGIMG_5889.JPGWe don’t usually drink but we were here to celebrate so a couple of us got a cocktail that consisted of sparkling wine and grapefruit ($13.00).IMG_5898.JPGLes Amuses Gueules (pre-entrees to share)~

Huitres naturelles sauce mignonette (natural oysters $4.00 each). I haven’t had oysters in a long time and oh how I’ve missed them. The mignonette was interesting and vinegary but the lovely sea salty taste had the last say in my mouth.IMG_5903.JPGIMG_5902.JPGEntrees ($17.00)~

Tartare De Boeuf (beef tartare). My Belgian friend was looking forward to this (despite it being her second choice) but when she tasted it she said it wasn’t how she prefers it. I tried a little and my first bite was over powered by parsley. My second bite had a strong bite of hot mustard but lacked the natural flavours of raw meat. We ate it with the hot fries and it gave it a good ‘chaser shot’ of salt. The top crunchy bits are beef tendon crisps.IMG_5907.JPGIMG_5908.JPGA close up of the beef tartare chopped up into little pieces.IMG_5921.JPGLes Plats (mains $36.00)~

Canard A L’Orange (orange duck, carrot and licorice, pickled red cabbage and pistachio). I loved the duck flavours from the meat but especially from the skin. I wasn’t expecting the terrine but it did add to dish and helped to fill me a little more. The pickled cabbage was crazy sweet but it was addictive and went very well with the duck meat. The orange sauce wasn’t anywhere near as strong as the pickled red cabbage, but the orange segments were a happy surprise. There was only a line of licorice so if you don’t like the flavour, don’t let it stop you from ordering this dish, but I really enjoyed it.IMG_5913.JPG

IMG_5917.JPGMmmm check out that duck skin.IMG_5916.JPGLe Poisson Du Jour (fish of the day) Salmon confit with broccoli, mussel and shrimp bisque. I loved the flavours of the bisque, the flavour was strong yet the texture was very light. Inside the Brussels sprout leaf enclosed something eggy (?) and tasted very lemony and very good. The salmon was really delicate and I was impressed at the size of it.IMG_5904.JPGGarnitures (side dishes $9.00)~

Frites (chips- just checked the bill, we were only charged $8). We had to ask several times for this but when they finally arrived they were super hot and well salted. Seems really weird to pay this much for a bowl of chips but at least it was a decent size.IMG_5920.JPGPetit Pois A La Francaise (French peas). I really loved the soft onion with thick chunks of bacon. I am not a fan of peas but I think that night I ate more peas than all of my 29 years put together. It was recommended that this was a good side for my duck main dish.IMG_5912.JPGWe got talking with a waiter to suss out why beef Wellington weren’t available, why they were on the menu and more importantly, when would they be available! He explained that the chef had previously worked with Gordon Ramsay which inspired him to put it on the menu and that the beef Wellington will be available next week. He found out that it was a big reason why we came and that it was my friend’s birthday. He was very generous and came back later to give us all very large serves of a gorgeous dessert wine complimentary to make up for our disappointment.IMG_5924.JPGDesserts ($14.00)~

Mousse Au Chocolat Et Avocat (chocolate mousse and avocado).The textures varied between the light mousse, the delicate crispy cigar casing, avocado gel and the honeycomb chunks. Avocado and chocolate might seem like an odd mix, but it isn’t too rich and after eating the chocolate, the avocado seems to take on a subtle green apple flavour.IMG_5932.JPGIMG_5929.JPGSouffle Au Fruit De La Passion (passionfruit souffle). The souffle was served in half a passionfruit shell, which to me was super cute but meant it was rather small. The souffle came with torn pieces of a soft bready sponge, a beautiful coconut cream gelato and a white chocolate sphere. Inside the white chocolate sphere was a spicy passionfruit surprise that proved to be very addictive between the three of us and we poured it all over.IMG_5928.JPGIMG_5940.JPGWhat’s a French restaurant without some fromage, unfortunately we had to go but I would like to try it next time we are here.IMG_5900.JPGThe staff were attentive, lovely to listen to (what a lovely accent) but from time to time it did get hard to decipher what they were saying, especially if they were speaking fast.

It is fair to say that we will be back to eat everything we couldn’t order from our first trip. It is a little on the expensive for small portions but maybe that’s why French Women Don’t Get Fat.

Venue: Les Bistronomes

Address36 Mort St Braddon, ACT

Phone: (02) 6248 8119 was written on the white board but I rang (02) 6298 1504 to make my reservation

Opening hours:

          Monday closed
          Tuesday – Friday lunch 12:00pm – 2:30pm dinner 6:00pm – 9:30pm (We left around 10:40pm after just having finished dessert and we weren’t the last to leave, so maybe you just have to be seated before 9:30pm?)
          Saturday brunch 9:00am – 2:30pm dinner 6:00pm – 9:30pm
          Sunday brunch 9:00am – 2:30pm

Les Bistronomes on Urbanspoon

The Wedding collection – Grazing

This wasn’t really a proper tasting, I know Grazing (see my previous post here) has always offered fabulous food. I really came out here to look at the garden space and ‘the Stone room’ which was purpose built facility for functions for up to 140 guests, but I did use this trip as an excuse to eat out here again.

The room as well as the garden was beautifully decorated for a wedding later that day but I didn’t want to photograph someone else’s big day and intrude so I was here to focus on the food that is being offered. It must be a popular venue because the day we went, there were several tastings* and also what appeared to be a booked out lunch session.

*Tastings are usually included when you book a venue held 6 weeks out from the big day to taste the seasonal menu which is likely to be available during the time of your wedding, I’m just tasting food at venues to see the calibre of food before I book a venue.

Let’s get started!20140309-201422.jpgBread freshly baked seeded rye bread with ‘La Barre’ blood plum finishing vinegar and Yass olive oil ($2.50 each). I thought the bread was too seedy and a bit dry for me, it needed a lot of oil and we didn’t get much to start off with but I wasn’t too shy to ask for more.20140309-201433.jpgEntrees~ all entrees are $17.00

Rabbit pulled tarlet with radicchio, cauliflower and pickled eggplant.20140309-201453.jpgPork Belly 18 hour slow cooked pork belly with braised fennel, salted grapes and apple.20140309-201504.jpg

20140309-201533.jpgSeafood Medley brandade veloute with scallop boudin, king fish, smoked trout, south coast oyster fritter and watercress. With so many components on the dish I didn’t know where to begin so I just chose a section and moved clock wise. Deep fried oysters, that is where it’s at! I loved the flavours and the contrasting flavours of the crispy exterior with the squishyness of the oyster. The veloute added a rich thick creamy smokey flavour to everything I dabbed in it. The king fish and the smoked trout had amazing salty smoky flavours, the only thing I was unsure about was the scallop boudin.20140309-201547.jpgI was trying to get as much of the veloute out with my fork as I could, it was so good.20140309-201609.jpgOyster fritter was so fabulous.20140309-201635.jpg20140309-201645.jpgMains~ all mains are $33.00

Duck confit of duck shank with beetroot and almond pesto, duck breast and pork parcel.20140309-201822.jpgChicken rolled and roasted chicken with quinoa, pumpkin and fried zucchini blossom.20140309-201711.jpgPie the ‘Grazing Pie’- Snapper, scallop and mussel pie with champagne creamed leek and potato mash. I’ve been told to try the pies at Grazing and I can now see why. The pastry is so perfectly flaky with a beautiful golden brown colour encasing a deliciously creamy centre. The only thing to note is that because the filling is so rich and it is sitting on a bed of creamed leek and potato mash, it made the whole dish very very filling.20140309-201749.jpg20140309-201808.jpgBeef fillet of beef on wilted greens with potato galette and caramelised eschalot jus. A perfectly cooked piece of steak that I would happily serve at my wedding as an easy crowd pleaser.20140309-201841.jpgDessert~ all desserts are $16.00

Chocolate mousse Belgium dark chocolate mousse tart with stone fruit and micro coriander.20140309-201852.jpgPanna cotta popcorn and malt flavoured panna cotta with fresh fig, cinnamon ice cream and pistachio. I found this dessert to be rather refreshing despite all the different sweet elements on the dish. Nothing was OTT and over powering and the flavours went well together. Nothing beats a fresh fig!20140309-201905.jpgPeach tarte tatin almond infused house made puff pastry and peach tart with honey & vanilla syrup and vanilla bean ice cream (allow 20 minutes). This was worth the 20 minute wait, the tarte tatin was beautifully caramelised on the top and was balanced out by the vanilla bean ice cream.20140309-201931.jpgCaramel and salted peanuts frozen caramel and salted peanut butter custard with chocolate parfait and crushed bitter chocolate.20140309-202008.jpgI left feeling pretty full after eating the creamy filling and all the pastry I had with my main but other diners who just had protein with some vegetables were not so satisfied. When we browsed the wedding set up, I had noticed that some of the lunch options were on the wedding menu and was convinced that the wedding guests were going to love their meal.

I had considered Grazing out in Gundaroo as a wedding venue but decided against it after the logistics of getting everyone out there (yes I did consider hiring a bus to and from the venue) considering a lot of my guests will be from interstate. If this isn’t a problem for you, I wouldn’t hesitate recommending this venue for your special day.

Don’t forget, it’s in the Entertainment book if you’re just coming out here for dinner or a lunch.

 

The Artisan – Surprise party

I’ve always been a fan of The Artisan in Narrabundah so this is more of a food porn post. I recently attended a surprise 30th birthday party all cleverly organised by the wife, she organised that there be a set menu for three courses with three options for each course. I tried to surround myself with fabulous company and of course ‘encouraged’ everyone to order different things to make my photos/post more interesting. 

Three course $65.00. Let the munching and the catch ups begin!

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Entrees~

Pan seared scallops with black pudding crumble, corn puree and frisee. I was going to order this although the idea of the black pudding crumble put me off, people who were brave enough to try it couldn’t really taste the black pudding aspect and really enjoyed it.

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Gnocchi Artisan crafted jerusalem artichoke gnocchi with butternut pumpkin filled zucchini flower and balsamic. I’ve never seen gnocchi prepared like this, looked amazing but not filling. 

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Pork belly chipotle braised pork belly with avocado mousse, apple slaw and crackling. Who could resist order pork belly? The crackle was perfect, the pork had layers of fat through it and the mousse was rather interesting.

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Mains~

Beef pure black eye fillet with smoked potato souffle, roast garlic puree, port jus and horseradish mustard. I am a big big fan of steak but I mainly ordered this for the smoked potato souffle and boy it didn’t disappoint! You could really taste the smokey flavour despite the delicate nature of the souffle. The steak was cooked perfectly and I was intrigued by the garlic puree.

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Spatchcock Harissa spiced breast and crisp leg with cucumber yoghurt, pomegranate, quinoa and baby coriander.

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Duck seared Grimaud duck breast with celeriac ribbons, raisins, watercress and cep jus.

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Dessert~

Wagon wheel layers of biscuit, marshmallow, raspberry jam and peanut praline with dark chocolate ganache.

Not complete without being covered in chocolate.

Panna cotta Elderflower panna cotta with honeycomb, yoghurt sortbet and popping candy.

Tarte tatin  banoffee tarte tatin with caramelised banana and dulce de leche ice cream. Everyone else ordered the other desserts so I sucked it up and ordered this even though I don’t usually eat bananas. I gave away my caramelised bananas but closely guarded my tarte tatin- flaky buttery tasty pastry mmmm, I wish the ice-cream wasn’t pooled on the top though.

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Having great company with marvelous food really makes a meal more enjoyable. Wonderful choice Cheryl!

Malamay

Secretly located to the left of the Realm reception with no clear signs from the outside, I’m surprised that anyone finds this place. Malamay was one of those restaurants where I had heard many good things and I had been meaning to go for a long time but it wasn’t until my friend organised for his birthday dinner there (part I) did I finally get to go.

There are only different choices of set menus/degustations to probably make it easier on the kitchen and allow them to focus their talents on a small range of plates rather than a large number of options with mediocre food. We chose the six course degustation ($88 per person) because it had a nice variety and it also included dessert but with so many dietary requirements between us, we turned out to be ‘that difficult table’. image

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Dim mood lighting, great for romantic dates but terrible for food blogging. I had to hold the awkward orb light towards each dish without dropping it in the food so please excuse the photos.

First course~

Pan seared shrimp cake with shredded seafood and cucumber jelly – I like shrimp cake because I’ve grown up with it, so for me this wasn’t anything special but I did enjoy the refreshing cucumber jelly. I also found the texture of the seafood salad underneath to resemble overcooked pasta and unappetizing. As the first dish of the night, it did make me nervous about the rest of the meal. image

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Tofu ricotta with chillied mushroom relish – the vegetarian/non prawn/non seafood eating option.

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Second course~

Three chilli relish prawns with hand-made noodles – A nice kick of spice. It was fabulous that they had a perfect balance of heat from the chili while the dish was served cold. It left a lovely tingling burning sensation on my lips.

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Mirin & soy soba noodles  – the vegetarian/non prawn/non seafood eating option.

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Third course~

White fish with burnt green chilli and black bean radish crumbs – The fish was juicy and tender but the broth was weird like it was pickled mustard or something, I was not a fan!

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Vegetarian, no prawns and no seafood of any kind – even I started to get confused! They brought out a gluten free option (surprisingly none on the table) so I don’t know exactly who this was for.

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Slow cooked eggplant with chillied sticky rice – An a-mazing tender eggplant with an even better broth. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was tasting but I knew I wanted more but it wasn’t my dish. image

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Fourth course~

Winter garden enoki mushroom salad  – the vegetarian/non prawn/non seafood eating option.

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Pork and prawn tortellini with cumin, paprika and chilli oil – Before you eat, take the time to enjoy the fragrance of the spices and the oil. These mouth watering dumplings left you wanting more. I wonder if I could replicate these at home… Hmmmmm

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Fifth course~

Sous- vide wagyu beef cheek with aged shaoshing wine and goji berries – no seafood optimage

Crispy tofu with aged shaoshing wine and goji berries – vegetarian option

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Cape Grim beef fillet with minced green lip abalone congee – I love congee but this was out of this world! The rice was blended to an only just recognisable texture, it was salty and served nice and hot. Perfectly seasoned congee topped with soft tender beef and a delicate slice of abalone.

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Sixth course~

Chocolate charcoal with yoghurt cream, pistachio and mandarin crumb – A bold choice to serve everyone dark chocolate and citrus together because it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but the mandarin isn’t the strongest component of the dish, there is a decent amount of heat and strong taste of rich cocoa. A marvellous contrast between the chilli bite in the chocolate and the cooling effect of the yoghurt.

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Overall I enjoyed my meal, I felt that some dishes were a miss for my palette and I left feeling content but not in the slightest bit full and I probably could have eaten the degustation twice over.

I couldn’t help but wonder, did my Asian background find comfort in the familiar tastes and textures which might not appeal to everyone? With so many positive reviews I think not. Maybe go in with an open mind and palette and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

With attentive staff, romantic atmosphere and exciting food, I will be returning very soon.

Venue: Malamay

Address: 1 Burbury Cl, Barton, Canberra

Phone: (02) 6162 1220

Malamay on Urbanspoon

Rockpool Bar and Grill – Melbourne

Knowing that we were going to Melbourne, we organised dinner quick smart and booked a table at the Rockpool weeks ahead. They confirmed numbers with my friend three times and because we were a table of 10+, it was going to be a $50 pp cancellation fee with less than 24hrs notice.

Heading into the restaurant, all I could smell was beef, I almost drifted in the air following my nose up to the counter. When we sat down we had perfect lighting but because everyone else was running late it was ever so dim when all the food arrived. image

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While waiting for the rest of the guests to arrive, we ordered fancy pants drinks and thoroughly browsed the menu.

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Each menu is printed daily on an A3 sheet featuring different cows.

Hot starter~

Lobster omelette with prawn sauce3 eggs, 50g of lobster, white wine, cream and a whole lot of other delicious things topped with a prawn bisque ($35.00). Decadence on a plate! Amazing flavours but it is a little on the heavy side.

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Mains~

Wagyu Bolognaise with Hand Cut Fettuccine ($25.00). Tim really enjoyed how pasta but luckily he also ordered the lobster omelette because the serving size was literally the size of a small ball of yarn.

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Beef from the wood fired grill David Blackmore full blood Wagyu (all Wagyu from 9+ marble score animals). Rump 240g 23 days ($95.00). I know they have a long list of options for sides but I was slightly taken by surprise that $95.00 only gets you a steak and a wedge of lemon on the plate. I’ve been plenty disappointed with a lot of $50.00 steaks and this was just a beautiful piece of meat that was well seasoned, lovingly prepared and quickly eaten.

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Cape Grim dry aged 36 month old grass fed Rib Eye on the bone 350g 56 days ($60.00). Another friend got the rib eye and said he enjoyed our rump better.

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Condiment service ~

mustards, barbeque sauce, harissa

 

Sides~

Mac and Cheese ($12.00) – Big tubes of rich cheesy pasta, everything you want in a mac and cheese. My favourite side by far!

Boiled Mixed Greens with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Lemon ($9.00) – Health conscious people, there’s one on every table and this is what they ordered. Nothing particularly special but I guess it was nice to have something green after the omelette and mac and cheese.

Baby Nicola Potatoes Sautéed in Wagyu Fat with Garlic and Rosemary ($12.00) not pictured – had a very strong garlic and rosemary taste.

Mushy Peas with a Slow Cooked Egg ($12.00) – Tim ordered this based on a server’s recommendation who said this was out of this world. Despite not liking peas, I had a few bites anyway. I didn’t spit them out and they tasted ok but it wasn’t the dish that converted me to liking peas. Tim said it was underwhelming also.

I was hoping the staff didn’t notice that they wanted us out by 8:30pm (we had a 6:30 booking) and it was approaching 9pm. I thought we had a real chance of sneaking in a dessert but alas, it was like they read my devious thoughts and in an instant 5 servers took all our plates away and it was like we never had a meal. 

Just a heads up with groups of 10+ people they have a ‘recommended service charge’ of 10% on the bill which you can pay ‘at your discretion’.

Venue: Rockpool bar and grill

AddressCrown Complex, Southbank VIC 3006

Phone(03) 8648 1900

Opening hoursLunch Sunday to Friday, Dinner 7 Days

Rockpool Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Soju girl

Oooops, how did I miss out on blogging about my Valentines dinner with a good friend of mine!? Just because both our partners were busy doesn’t mean we had to let a reservation to Soju girl go to waste.

If you’ve eaten with me, you would know about my struggle that I have with a menu with too many interesting options, so when we had a plan of getting one ‘Small plate’ and two ‘Large plates’ we were ready to order! The waiter then explains that we were better off getting more small plates and maybe one large plate as the large was designed to be shared between two people. *sigh* back to the drawing board, to be honest I thought the large plates were more exciting.

Small plates~

Seared scallops, sweet corn and tomato salsa, chilli soy paste ($22.00). Delicious and juicy scallops paired with the salsa made this dish light and refreshing.

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Chargrilled tiger prawns, crispy wonton salad, lime caramel ($4.50 each minimum of 3). A visually stunning dish. I liked how you could taste the char grill as well as the sweetness of the prawn itself.

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Specials: Pork belly skewers with bulgogi sauce ($18.00). My least favourite of the small plates, there wasn’t anything wrong with it per se but there wasn’t anything interesting on the palette about it at all (and I found the meat a bit tough).

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Large plate~


Coconut braised duck, yellow curry ($37.00)A much improved curry to my previous visit, where this time the duck was moist, tender and took in the flavours of the rich and flavourful curry which had bursts of sweetness from unexpected lychees.

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Dessert~

Deconstructed raspberry shortcake, lychee, parfait, meringue ($14.00). I always thought that a ‘deconstructed’ anything was really wanky and somewhat lazy but I really like raspberries which is why I chose this dessert (plus I knew my friend would be ordering the very popular chocolate fondant). The four textures of raspberries was very interesting, most textures brought out the sweetness of the berry but the foam was rather tart which I didn’t really enjoy but could be balanced out by the lychee jelly or meringue.

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Chocolate fondant, salted caramel, peanut butter ice cream ($18.00). I could tell my friend was super eager to try the chocolate fondant as she chose her dessert before she even chose her dinner! Everything was perfect on the plate- a molten rich chocolate fondant with a perfect amount of salted caramel all balanced by the peanut butter ice cream.

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Attentive wait staff and fantastic company but I’m still undecided where I stand about this restaurant. There are special memorable dishes and some mediocre dishes but all are charged a ridiculous price. I did leave feeling full but that might have had something to do with the fact that I had my share of rice and then some.

Soju Girl on Urbanspoon