Lahori Gate

Canberra has had such restaurant boom in the last few years, I cannot keep up but at least I’ve heard of most of the places even if I haven’t been yet. So when a work colleague asked me if I had been to a Pakistani restaurant in Phillip, I gave him a look of deep concentration as I scanned through my mental restaurant library and came up blank. What was he talking about, how was there a restaurant south side out of all places that I haven’t heard about!?

Lahori Gate has been open for the past 8 months and are looking to expand all without registering on the foodie radar, but it has obviously made waves in the Pakistani community. Even the ambassador went there to eat and was so impressed that Lahori Gate now caters for some embassy events. We were all curious about this restaurant so a group of us from work went later that week. When we were all seated the waiter/owner clarified with us that they are a Pakistani restaurant not an Indian restaurant, all the food is home style cooking, his wife and sister-in-law run the kitchen and do not to expect cream and sweeteners to be added to the curries. ‘Perfect’ I said smiling, ‘that’s exactly what we’re here for’.

Appetisers~

Chicken pakora deep-fried chicken fritters, cooked with light spices served with raita and tamarind sauce ($9.50). These were served to us piping hot from the fryer although they weren’t oily. I was surprised how many were in one serve (or have I just adjusted to Canberra ‘normal’ dining now?) and they were addictive to eat. I think they forgot to give us tamarind sauce but we still had lemon and raita, which wasn’t sweet but rather herby and tangy.Shami kebab beef and lentil patties served with raita and salad ($9.50). These patties had a ‘wet flaky consistency’ like tuna from a can; I couldn’t tell there were lentils in there. It tasted very meaty with herbs although it did leave a bit of a chilli aftertaste at the back of my throat. I’ve never eaten anything like this before.A closer look inside the shami kebab.The raita here is not sweet like we’re used to in Indian restaurants and conveniently pairs well with everything from entrees through to mains.Mains~

Achari chicken marinated boneless chicken cooked with pickles and special spice and herbs ($15.50). I didn’t get any pieces of pickles in my spoonfuls but that didn’t worry me. The chicken had a beautiful flavour to it, it is hard to describe when I’ve never had anything like this before but we all really enjoyed it went back for more.Bhuna Gosht tender pieces of beef (it usually comes in lamb but we got this in beef) marinated in garlic, ginger and spices cooked with tomato, onion in a thick bottom pan to seal all the natural juice ($15.00). My work colleague was disappointed with this dish because for him, it is usually ‘dry’ with not much sauce but for those who didn’t know any better (i.e. most people on the table), we mopped up all the sauce with our naan.Chicken Biryani chicken and rice cooked with aromatic spice, herbs served with raita ($15.50). Yes we ordered chicken for entree and then chicken on top of more chicken, hahaha. The rice was really nice, although the chicken pieces were so sporadic I don’t know if it made much of a difference, luckily for me, I just topped it off with more achari chicken.Sides~

Rice ($4.00 serve we had two serves between the 8 of us).

Garlic naan ($3.00 each we ordered 4 between 8 of us). My first piece was pretty burnt on one half but luckily for the table (unlucky for me), it was pretty much the only burnt one that was served. These had herbs as well as garlic on them which was a nice touch, but they were very handy to have at the table to mop up every bit of the sauces from the curries.Desserts~
Rice pudding
(Kheer $8.00). I’m a sucker for rice pudding so while everyone choosing ras malai, I was shouting out for rice pudding, in the end we got two of everything so there was enough for everyone to sample a bit of everything. This was subtle sweet but was mixed with nice spices.Ras malai ($8.00). I have eaten my fair share of ras malai (although I still wouldn’t be an expert) and this would have been one of the nicer ones I’ve had. My work colleague was not as impressed and said that they can make it better at home, unfortunately not all of us are that lucky.

Carrot pudding ($8.00). This was not on the menu but the waiter/husband/brother-in-law was saying that he made this dish himself and if we would like to try some, so we ordered this as well. It looked very unusual but it tasted very balanced between the sweetness, spices and the natural sweetness of the carrots.The dining area is very small and might not fit more than 40-50 people comfortably and although patrons were sporadic during our meal I would still suggest to book to avoid disappointment.

I quickly took a photo before the restaurant became fairly busy.I really enjoyed the food here, it offers a menu unlike any other I’ve seen in Canberra. It is nestled away in the apartment blocks near Woden CIT and I wouldn’t have known that this place existed if my work colleague hadn’t seen a flyer in a grocery store.

Apparently they have ‘brunch’ buffet once a month on a Sunday, it is not on a set day every month so check out their Facebook page for upcoming events and brunch dates. For $18.50(?) you have a choice between 8 varieties of curries and it is very popular that the line is always out the door.

Venue: Lahori Gate

Address: 2 Antis St, Phillip, ACT

Phone(02) 6101 5896

Opening hours:

Mon Closed

Tuesday – Friday 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM
Saturday – Sunday 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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What came first, the weekend or the egg?

My supposed quiet weekend turned into a whirlwind of baby holding (oh my they were cute), over due catch ups and a lot of time in the kitchen.

While I was in the kitchen I used 23 eggs in total which in turn was made into: one rich chocolate cake, 36 mini quiches, 2 big quiches, one batch of white chocolate and cranberry cookies, pancakes and a delicious sunny side egg on top of a bed of rice.

What did you guys get up to over the long weekend? Did you make anything particularly delicious in your kitchen?

The big quiche I made had spinach, haloumi and truss tomatoesI used puff pastry because I like the texture more than short crust.  These white chocolate and cranberry cookies were delicious but even more amazing when they were straight out of the oven… Mmmmmm

Flint in the Vines

My friends and I had been wanting to go to Flint in the Vines for a long time, but between lack of planning and untimely renovations we hadn’t gone out there until recently. It was lovely sunny day and it really didn’t take that long to drive out there even with the road works.

I had literally thrown on a(nother) dress after eating waffles and bacon for breakfast and started driving to Murrumbateman, so when my friends suggested to share some entrees and starters I had no particular objection.Starters~

Wood fired Camembert apple compote, red wine reduction, warmed ciabatta ($22.00). This ingredients make for a winning combination, the only downside was that the Camembert was not gooey enough, if it had a tad longer in the oven it would have heavenly. It wouldn’t have really have needed more than a minute or two to become perfection.Entrees~

Lamb roulade carrot and parsnip puree, plum jam, mint verde, truffled sweet potato chips ($17.00). I had let everyone else choose our entrees and starters that we were sharing and concentrated on choosing my own main therefore I wasn’t quite sure what we ordered. When I took a mouthful of this I was so surprised about how much flavour there was. The lamb flavours were robust and complimented by the sweet condiments, if I ordered this again, I would not share.
Butter poached prawns anchovy mousse egg-lasagna sheet, sage butter, baby herbs ($19.00). This looked really small and simple in contrast to the lamb but the flavours were just as pronounced. It was absolutely divine! It was to be expected though, who doesn’t love sage in butter *licks lips*. This looked a lot smaller than the other dish.Four dainty prawns hidden under a blanket of pasta.
Pizza~
Caprese basil pesto, sun-dried tomato, cherry tomato, bocconcini, balsamic glaze, fresh basil ($25.00). I must have been a pain to dine with, like a little child I couldn’t help myself but play with the mini lazy Susan that it came on. My friend liked the pizza base and the pizza itself, but towards the end it tasted like it was really tomato heavy and was starting to become an antipasto plate in her mouth.
Mains~
Confit Duck Maryland braised red cabbage, confit fennel, candied nashi pear, orange and anise jus ($34.00). The duck could have been a tad crispier but it was still really good and paired perfectly with all the sweet fruit and vegetables.
Honey brined pork loin romesco, sauteed cabbage, mushroom and sweet peppers, pesto ($33.00). The brine kept the whole piece of loin really juicy and delicious.
Chargrilled eye fillet potato and leek vichyssoise, sauteed baby winter veg, chilli jam ($35.00). As much as I love beef, I really mainly ordered this for the potato and leek vichyssoise. I didn’t know what it was exactly, I just guessed it was going to be a lovely rich white sauce made like one of my favourite soups! The eye fillet was cooked perfectly, it was juicy all over and it dish itself was stunning as it showed off an array of colour of baby winter vegetables.
 When uploading this photo, I got instantly hungry again. 
Sides~ all sides $9.00

Sautéed Dutch carrots almond cream, shallots, smoked paprika and toasted almond flakes. The carrots were slightly harder than I would have liked but I couldn’t get over how amazing the combination of almond cream, shallots, smoked paprika and toasted almond flakes was! People need to know about this.Roasted pumpkin & spinach salad fetta, toasted walnuts, honey & rosemary vinaigrette. So I might have rolled my eyes when the girls I was dining with suggested a salad to share but this was simplicity at its best. I loved this so much that later on in the week I made my own version at home. The rosemary flavour was subtle but vital to the salad’s amazingness (is that a word, probably not). Dessert~ all desserts were $16.00

Vanilla and nashi pear tapioca pudding stewed rhubarb Persian fairy floss, ginger and lemon biscuit. I was excited to taste this because I love nashi pears but I couldn’t really taste it despite chunks of it throughout the whole pudding. This reminded me of a vanilla rice pudding, not the sweetest dessert also not the easiest to share.
 
Lamington fondant (allow 15 minutes) dark chocolate fondant, raspberry jam, coconut ice cream, toasted coconut. This could have been one rich dessert but I was pleasantly surprised that the middle wasn’t runny lava made up of OTT molten cocoa, it was just moist and bitter enough to enhance the sweetness of the jam. When it was paired with all the coconut aspects, it created a perfect balance of flavours and you could eat the whole dish without feeling sick afterwards.                                                    
The food was absolutely wonderful set in an unpretentious, family friendly atmosphere and the waitresses were friendly, helpful and attentive. I haven’t been wowed by a Canberra restaurant (and surrounds) for a while, but this restaurant unexpectedly surprised me with its food quality. I am very keen to go back out again soon.

Venue: Flint in the Vines
Address: 34 Isabel Drive Murrumbateman NSW 2582
Phone: (02) 6227 5144 *
* Please note this phone line is answered between Wednesday and Sunday.
Business Hours:
Lunch – Thursday to Sunday
Dinner – Wednesday to Saturday
Entertainment book card: Yes! Don’t forget to use it
2% Surcharge for Amex
10% Surcharge Sundays
15% Surcharge Public Holidays

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Westside Acton Park

Even though I went to Westside Acton Park for two things specifically (see Miss Van’s and La Crepe blog posts here), I was surprised to see so many other eateries there.

There’s O’So smoothie, Damn Fine Roasters (Canberra’s first drive thru coffee shop, you just honk your horn and someone will be with you shortly), The One (I look forward to their chicken wings!), Miss Van’s, La Crepe (which might be closed for a few weeks) and Habibz (authentic Middle Eastern BBQ). Also up the top of the shipping containers is Aviary, Canberra’s first rooftop bar, I haven’t been up there yet because the one time I tried they were closed for health and safety reasons.

If you haven’t checked out Westside Acton Park yet they have a Pop Up Market this Saturday!

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Ricardo’s re-run

I was having a complete brain fart moment over the weekend.

I guess you could categorize me as a foodie and after my experience of being one of the 101 humans, you’d think I would know how to show off Canberra but I felt the pressure build when my Mum informed me that she was coming down to visit with some family friends for a day trip and I should choose somewhere for lunch.

Her specifications were not too fancy, not Brodburger (my sister and I always drag her there) and it had to be in a convenient location as we drove around taking them to Canberra’s landmarks and iconic buildings. I also didn’t want to take them to an Asian restaurant, after all they are from Hong Kong and Sydney, I don’t think Canberra could ever compare on price and quality. My brain froze, it just couldn’t cope with choosing somewhere and I delayed making a decision until the morning of their arrival, a dangerous move considering I wanted no waiting time or a reservation. That morning, my sister and her cute little family decided to also tag along which meant adding a pram into consideration, then a light bulb went off and I knew exactly where to go.

Not only does Ricardo’s in Jamison cook up fabulous lunch options and breakfast (I’m not the keenest on their cakes though *gasp* shock horror) but prams and children almost seem mandatory. They are ridiculously family friendly and when I rang that morning to book a table for 7 adults and a pram, they were happy to oblige.

Clockwise starting from top left.
Specials board~ Cauliflower, parmesan and potato soup ($15.90). A warming soup with all my favourite things. I’m not the biggest fan of focaccia and wasn’t going to eat the bread but it was reeeeeally nice all smothered in butter.
Fish and chips ($19.90). I rolled my eyes when TimmyC told me he was going to order this but then a waitress went past with a plate in her hand, we both then agreed he was to order fish and chips.
Hotcakes with passionfruit curd and maple syrup ($16.90).
Mushroom Bruschetta Harrisa spiced roast field mushroom with creamed fetta, beetroot, rouqette and za’atar on grilled focaccia ($16.90). I’ve never seen my Mum eat beetroot before so I was surprised she ordered this. She really enjoyed it and in true Asian Mum fashion gave half her meal away to everyone and they also agreed it was really nice.
We all chose different things because the menu was diverse and something suited all of us. Everyone had a lovely time, the food was fantastic and my guests were really surprised how busy the place was, even after 2:30pm people were still streaming in.
I look forward to Ricardo De Marco expanding to Woden later on this year, it is going to be quite different I hear.

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What’s in season: June

In season: June

 

Vegetables

Asian greens, avocados, beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green cabbage, red cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, fennel, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, cultivated mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, slippery jack mushrooms, onions, brown, onion, pickling, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkins, shallots, silverbeet, spinach, swedes, sweet potatoes, turnips, truffle (local Canberra black truffle), wombok (aka Chinese cabbage, aka celery cabbage)

Herbs, spices and aromatics

garlic (from last November!), ginger, horseradish, spring onions (aka green onions, aka shallots – not eschallots), turmeric

Fruits, berries and nuts

golden delicious apples, Granny Smith apples, jonathan apples, cumquats, custard apples, fejoias, kiwifruit, lemons, limes, mandarins, melons, nashi, nuts, olives, oranges, oranges (Navel), pears, persimmons, quince, rhubarb, tamarillo

La crepe – Westside

Of course while we were waiting for our food from Miss Van’s, my friend’s and I couldn’t help but be enticed by the delicious smells coming from La Crêpe the next shipping container over. There’s nothing much more to really write than they smell amazing, Nutella was made to be on crepes and they even do ‘take aways’ so there is no excuse not to get one… Or two.

Here is their menu, crepes range from $5.00 – $9.00. Which one would you have picked?The guy noticed me taking photos and struck a pose. My friend was talking to him and he was super friendly and had helpful advise for when we head to Paris.It takes skill to get a crepe that thin. My friend made her husband wait as she went to get a second one to take away. How cute is the packaging! It looked much easier to eat than on the plate.A photo of my crepe before it got quickly devoured.Friendly service and it didn’t take that long for us to get our crepes even though we were impatiently drooling.

Venue: La Crepe

Address: Westside Acton Park, Barrine Drive, Acton 2601

Opening hours: hopefully similar times to Miss Van’s?

***This place is now closed *** 😦

Miss Van’s Street Food – Westside

We weren’t exactly starving but I was still keen on dragging my friends to Westside Acton Park and trying out Miss Van’s Street food which I had been waiting for weeks to open. I had been stalking their menu in anticipation of their opening and found it was a small but had precise flavours of Vietnam. I was hoping since that the menu is so refined that all the dishes that they prepare would be good.

Have you been to Westside Acton park yet?What would you choose from their menu?Beef Noodle Soup | Pho Our pho stock is cooked for a minimum of 24 hours following a closely guarded family recipe! We use only fresh noodles. All pho bowls are served with lime, thai basil, beanshoots, coriander and shallot, add your own sriracha, Miss Van’s chilli and garlic oil, fresh chilli and hoi sin. 

Rare beef noodle soup (pho tai) rare sliced marinated flank steak ($11.00). I had a spoonful of my friend’s soup and the broth was not oily or sweet but full off flavour with a slight chilli kick. I thought it was unusual that the beef wasn’t the thinly sliced stuff you get from an Asian grocer but rather more hand cut with additional beef chunks, despite the thicker cuts the beef was really tender. I probably would have ordered this if I didn’t have a big breakfast out and going straight to an afternoon tea, it would have also been a little harder to eat a noodle soup on low hipster seats.Check out the generous portions of beef!Vietnamese sandwich | Banh Mi our sandwich rolls are made on a signature Viet/French baguette, all banh mi served with whole egg ago, lightly pickled carrot, radish, coriander, soy sauce and chilli sauce. 

Chicken roll (banh mi ga) shredded chicken, confit shallot, house made pate ($7.00). I really liked the bread roll that they used, it had a crunchy exterior with a nice soft interior. Mmmm… My friend gave me all his coriander (yum!) so my view on this banh mi is a little biased. I’m not one for pate but I had it the way it was intended and it was really nice as it gave it an extra kick of salty goodness. When  I was ordering, they asked me if I wanted their homemade chilli that they said was hot, I asked for a little and it gave it a nice extra level of flavour. There was a tiny bit of gristle on the chicken but it didn’t ruin the bun as a whole.My friends ordered the pork roll.Soya bean milk homemade, infused with pandan leaf, lightly sweetened with palm sugar ($5.00). A subtle sweet drink with a hint of pandan after taste.Specials mini pork spring rolls ($5.00). Nice and hot crunchy spring rolls that are easy to share, too bad the specials menu are constantly being changed. 

I enjoyed the food that we shared from Miss Van’s, although the seating is a little harder to eat noodle soup. The food didn’t take that long to come and there are plenty of condiments for those who like their food nice and spicy.

Venue: Miss Van’s Street Food

Address: Westside Acton Park, Barrine Drive, Acton 2601

Opening times during Winter:

Wednesday – Saturday 12pm – late
Sunday 10am – 6pm

 

Miss Van's on Urbanspoon

 

Star Buffet re-run

It was easier to show people the Star Buffet rather than describing all the different types of food, so that’s where I went last Sunday night with 8 other people. To my surprise (and also the club receptionist who said that this was their quiet night) the place was packed! We were even seated in the off shoot area, but it was conveniently closer to the food. Everyone grabbed a plate and headed off into different directions.

There were a few new additions compared to the previous Sunday lunch including: vegetarian dumplings, honey soy chicken wings, short soup (the soup is bland but the dumplings were okay) and grilled pork chops. I was disappointed to see that there were no Portuguese tarts that night but the mini creme brulees were still my favourite dessert pick.So have you been yet? Tell me what you think of Star buffet and if you think a place like this is viable with Canberra’s population.

See my first post here.
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Star Buffet

When Michelle from HerCanberra told me that she had heard there was an all you can eat buffet in Kambah out of all places, we were keen to go ASAP. The Star Buffet is a new addition to the Burns Club which seats around 650 patrons, I didn’t believe it until I saw it, but the area is massive!

They were a bit funny about us taking photos so I only took a few (before we were confronted) and then the rest of the photos were of our plates at the table.   I don’t know if this includes the frozen Coke machine that they have but it is pretty good value if you drink soft drinks.  The selection of sushi isn’t so great but I was amused that they had a sushi train here.  I’m not saying that all the food here is fabulous, because it would be hard to deliver this amount of variety and for everything to be good, but there is an extensive amount of things to choose from and we were quite surprised with some of the food quality.

The selection includes roast meats (the pork has really crunchy crackling!), roast vegetables, different types of gravy, grilled meats (steaks were nice when they were just cooked), Asian BBQ, Asian stir fries, the cutest bamboo steamers with dim sims and BBQ pork buns, cold seafood and salads, sushi train, lamb shanks (which were surprisingly decent), fish, American pork ribs, the usual deep-fried foods, deep friend BBQ pork bun (yes you heard me right), pastas, pizza, waffles from a waffle iron, a cheese platter, chocolate fountain, fresh fruit, a large cake selection, creme brulees (yum!), panna cotta (I wouldn’t bother), tarts, profiteroles, Portuguese tarts (they were good), jelly, pudding and last but not least a soft serve machine.

I think the good thing about this buffet is the casual environment, the all you can eat aspect if your friends and family can really eat and the crazy amount of variety they have, I’ve never seen anything like it.The tables were getting cleared pretty consistently throughout our meal, they did close promptly at the end of the lunch sitting though so just keep that in mind if you come in for a late seating. The food was being replenished so variety of choice was always there, but I think if lots of people went you would have the added advantage of high turn over and more freshly cooked food.

You might have heard of Star Buffet because they are in a lot of clubs across NSW.

Venue: Star Buffet

Address: 8 Kett Street, Kambah ACT 2902

Phone: (02) 6296 3045

Website: http://www.starbuffet.com.au/locations/burns-club/

Opening times and prices:


Star Buffet on Urbanspoon

Chef’s table at The Fat Duck Melbourne

Head Chef: Jonathan Lake

Here is my cautionary advice, if you are lucky enough to get the chance to dine at The Fat Duck I would not read this post.

Let yourself have no expectations or previews and just immerse yourself into the world that these talented culinary experts have created for you to experience. I went in with little or no idea of what was going to happen other than I was going to get an iPod to listen to somewhere during lunch but that was it and I was surprised, impressed and amazed every step of the way.

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I am not known to be a person to get to places on time but I wasn’t surprised that we were 30 minutes early to our midday reservation at The Fat Duck in Melbourne. It allowed enough time to take obligatory selfies with the sign, instagram it to the world and tell other foodies about where I was. We were the first ones loitering around but it wasn’t too long before other patrons arrived, took their selfies and waited near us. I must admit, I was getting rather excited but cautious at the same time as I felt that this was all too good to be true and maybe TimmyC’s work friends who actually got the table, were playing a cruel elaborate hoax or something.Precisely at midday, a well dressed woman approached us and said it was time to commence lunch and told us to walk on through. I didn’t realise in our excitement that we had walked straight past her and entered into a dark hallway, until we didn’t quite know what to do or where to walk to next. The wooden path was getting narrower as we moved up the hallway and at the very end there was an electronic screen displaying a small door, which gave the impression that the room was getting smaller. Just as we approached the small door, a sliding door on our right opened to reveal the bright dining room of the restaurant and several other well dressed women waiting to show us to our table. We were just like Alice falling down into the rabbit hole.

I didn’t know to do next when we were approaching this tiny door, I just kept taking photos! As soon as we stated the name we were booked under, they knew instantly without referring to any books or hesitation that we were the four lucky diners to be seated at the chef’s table during that lunch service. Before we were shown to our seats, they gave us a quick tour of the dining room as we wouldn’t really get to see it because we were seated in the kitchen. My eyes darted everywhere between the gorgeous curved lounge booth seating, the giant fob watch mounted on the wall counting down the days of the restaurant’s time in Australia and the huge puzzle consisting of 19 500 pieces spanning the whole side of the wall.

 Just under halfway of their time left in Australia for this ‘pop up’ restaurant.  We were getting a little history lesson and a feel for the Bray location, it is so small by comparison. The chefs are enjoying an expanded kitchen space while it lasts. We were told that the Fat Duck restaurant in Bray gets 250,000 calls a day and there is a three year waiting list!We were eventually shown our table, it was very spacious lounge with a big wooden (and we were also told very expensive) table inside the kitchen. The table setting was very basic, a water glass and a looped napkin with subtle text “The Fat Duck Heston Blumenthal” across it.This was our view, service hadn’t officially started yet but soon after the kitchen was bustling with cooking and plating. The chef’s life isn’t so glamorous when your day starts at 8:30/9am all the way through to 1am.We were introduced to Andrea the sommelier and Matt the head sous chef who said if there were any questions do not hesitate to ask.

This was their drinks menu, it was massive!

 The Fat Duck Melbourne 15 courses

($525 per person | $675 per person at the chef’s table)

We were asked if there were any allergies, dietary preferences or specific tastes that we didn’t like; some of us didn’t love the taste of licorice and beetroot but we were all willing to try the menu as it was intended. What surprised me was because they have this one set menu, everyone, regardless of allergens or dietary preferences will get the same dishes. They have learnt to adapt every dish for a specific dietary requirement; they could make the whole thing vegan if requested.

AERATED BEETROOT

We were advised not to leave it too long before putting this morsel into our mouths and letting it dissolve on our tongue. The texture of the ‘ball’ was surprisingly like pressing your finger in florist foam and as it dissolved on our tongues, it released a subtle beetroot flavour followed by strong horseradish after taste which paired really well together and despite the different degrees of flavour, it all balanced out.

I had a smirk on my face, Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.

NITRO POACHED APERITIFS

Vodka and Lime Sour, Gin and Tonic, Tequila and Grapefruit

We all chose one each and it was the beginning of food theatrics as we all watched our server prepare our palette cleansers in front of us with a little help from liquid nitrogen. The taste of my vodka lime and sour was clean, cold, precise and left my tongue feeling like I had had a quick lick of an iced metal pole. My mouth was refreshed, cleansed and yearning for the next course.A quick photo of the meringue made with liquid nitrogen before TimmyC quickly popped it into his mouth and started breathing out ‘smoke’ through his nostrils.

RED CABBAGE GAZPACHO

Pommery Grain Mustard Ice cream

The red cabbage gazpacho was strong, the mustard ice cream was also intense but when eaten together they were a perfect marriage. My brain just could not comprehend.

SAVOURY LOLLIES

Waldorf Rocket, Salmon Twister and Feast (what we call ‘Gaytime’)

Only at The Fat Duck could you have ‘sweets’ at the beginning and end with bacon and eggs for dessert. We were advised to eat from left to right. The first savoury lolly was in the shape of a small ‘rocket ice block’, which was really layers of walnut (top), celery and apple (middle) and I don’t remember what the bottom was supposed to be, but together they simulated the taste of a Waldorf salad with the texture and temperature of an ice block. I couldn’t stop smiling while licking this.We were all visually deceived that since all of them looked like ice creams that they would all be hard and cold. The second ‘lolly’ was surprisingly really soft as it was a delicate piece of salmon carefully rolled in a ‘sheet’ of intricately piped sauce. I really enjoy salmon so I particularly liked this lolly.Last but not least was a ‘Gaytime’ that was made from chicken liver parfait. I am not one for offal bits and pate so I was quite hesitant on trying this after enjoying the salmon so much. I took a big bite and was pleasantly surprised (yes I’ll use the word ‘surprised’ a lot throughout this post) how creamy, smooth and light the texture was and the taste was just intensely salty in a good way. It really boggles your mind to eat something so savoury while staring at a mini ice-cream. All gone 😦

JELLY OF QUAIL, MARRON CREAM

Caviar Sorbet, Oak Moss and Truffle Toast
(Homage to Alain Chapel)

We were invited on a journey, a journey of the senses through a thick forest.

We each opened the film box that was sitting on a bed of moss, placed in on our tongue before being asked to take bites of our truffle toast and then a scoop of all the layers of the jelly. While we were eating, we were told to smell the fog coming off the moss which blanketed the table, it made our faces damp and smelt like we were walking amongst oak trees. Entertainment value was 10/10 but I wasn’t fully sold on the savoury jelly which I forced myself to quickly finish so I could end on the delicious truffle toast. 

SNAIL PORRIDGE 

Joselito Ham, Shaved Fennel

My friend joked not to fill up on bread but I didn’t think they would serve bread and butter here. When we were given a slice of sour dough bread, we were told a lot of perfecting went into it before they were happy with the end result. The bread itself was soft, the crust was crunchy but not chewy and the butter was also made in-house.We all ended up eating two slices of bread because we used the second slice to mop up the rest of the sauce from our snail porridge. It is hard to describe the taste of this as a whole, but you can really taste the parsley soup, the refreshing crisp of the fennel and some crunchy salty bits at the bottom. None of us was put off by the snails but I didn’t love this dish as much as the previous dishes that we had before it. I used this opportunity between courses to quickly duck to the bathroom. The panels all look like walls so it was hard to find where the actual door was. Inside the bathroom they even had ‘Fat Duck’ soap and lotion!

ROAST MARRON

Shiitake, Confit Kombu and Sea Lettuce

They had adapted this dish from the Bray menu to show off the flavours of Australia’s seafood. Our server told us that their research suggested that a lot of Australians don’t really eat that much seafood and they found this difficult to cater for, but I’m glad that they didn’t omit it completely.

Marron is a crayfish from WA, the meat is not as sweet as scallops and mud crab but it almost has that same texture. They have paired it with sea lettuce that is washed 5 times to get rid of the salty ocean taste and then dehydrated which gave a nice crunchy texture. I found that the flavours of the shiitake and kombu were quite robust comparatively and almost over powered the dish.

 

MAD HATTER’S TEA PARTY

Mock Turtle Soup, Pocket Watch and Toast Sandwich

There was a tea party and we were all invited.

We were asked to read our cards while our Mad Hatters sandwich tier was being put down along side our tea cups and a glass teapot each. I squealed with excitement when I saw how cute our mock turtle ‘island’ was with little enoki mushrooms poking out from our mock egg.

We were shown the pocket watches inside the box which had a loud ticking sound. We were told that they don’t keep good time and we were going to lower it into our teapots and swirl it until it completely dissolved and we were left with nothing but a stock soup and gold leaves which we poured into our tea cups. It takes over a week just to make the pocket watch alone, it is made from a heavily reduced stock that a senior chef is in charge of because of the timeline and how many steps are involved.

       Mock turtle soup!I don’t know what else that they put into our sandwiches except the piece toast in the middle. It might sound weird to put toast in sandwiches but it gave it a really great crunch like we were biting into a schnitzel.

We had to sip our soup and take bites of our sandwiches intermittently, it was a weird, crazy and wonderful experience.    

“SOUND OF THE SEA”

We were instructed to put on the headphones and the dish served next will be explained after we ate it. We were each handed a big shell with a iPod shuffle tucked inside with Bose headphones. The soundtrack playing was the sound of the waves washing up onto the shore before being pulled back again into the ocean, there were seagulls in the background and in the distance you can hear a ship horn. It was playing loud enough to drown out the background noise and fully immerse you into a beach side area, far far away.

Our bespoke ‘plate’ was placed in front of us, it looked beautiful. The plate itself looked like we were eating at the beach, the flavours were salty and lemony while the food itself mimicked a beautiful shoreline with lots of foamy bubbles. There were two types of fish and some abalone tucked amongst some native succulents, fingerlimes and some sweet and savoury ‘sand’ that was made from tapioca and dehydrated anchovies. I love how much sound and visual effects can really take a meal to a whole new level.        

SALMON POACHED IN A LIQUORICE GEL

Endive, Vanilla Mayonnaise and Golden Trout Roe

The flavours of licorice were subtle if not non-existent, the salmon was extremely delicate and the roe was big and juicy like the pink grapefruit, while the vanilla mayonnaise blew our minds. No trickery in this dish, it was just the chefs showing off their skills with unusual flavour pairings that work well, beautifully plated together.

LAMB WITH CUCUMBER

Green Pepper and Caraway

They gave us lamb across two dishes. The first was a savoury jelly and mint puree served with a quinoa crisp and lamb heart/loin/leg. The savoury jelly was like the solidified lamb juices at the bottom of a roasting pan which served as a really salty flavour off set by the mint and quinoa. I could tell you based on texture which part of the lamb I was eating, but taste wise it was all the same.     The next dish was a continuation from the first, this time using the saddle of the lamb served with charred cucumber that I found extremely refreshing. As the red meat portion of the meal, I found the lamb to be quite underwhelming despite the cavier giving it a salty ooopmf. Or maybe it was because other dishes were so amazing that I didn’t think this one really could compare.

HOT & ICED TEA

This took me by complete surprise. At first as I was just sipping hot tea, until my friends tell me to turn my glass. I turn my glass slightly clockwise and my next sip was truly magical. Half of my mouth was drinking hot peachy/lemony tea and the other half peachy/lemony iced tea, there was a complete division right down the middle! I was expecting a cold iced tea with chilli infusions that warmed the mouth but this was truly remarkable.

I asked the chef if he wouldn’t mind getting me next time this was being prepared. A few minutes later he asked me to come to the pastry team area where I watched a chef simultaneously pour both hot and cold tea in a glass with a silicon divider in the middle that was lifted just before serving. There is a little bit of gelatin in mixture to allow the halves not to mix instantly. Pastry team hard at work, that is a lot of plated desserts!   Removing the silicon divider right at the last moment before serving.

BOTRYTIS CINEREA

This was visually stunning. Everything on the plate was completely edible; from the stem, the gold spiral spun from sugar, down to the leaves that looked like they were made from glass.

They had encapsulated all the complex flavours of a dessert wine and turned them into different components of this dessert. The meringue tasted like saffron, the sand had blue cheese and parmesan, the ‘stem’ tasted like fried pastry, there was a jelly ball that tasted alcoholic, there were apricot flavours, fresh fruit, grapes, dried fruits, every note of the wine was on this plate.

There were so many components to this dish, I was surprised that one of the ‘grapes’  which were ever so delicate, once cracked open contained crunchy bits and popping candy. There was so much complexity to this dish, it was mind blowing.

THE NOT-SO-FULL ENGLISH BREAKFAST

We were each given a bowl, a box of cereal with a ‘toy’ inside and a cute little bottle of milk. I loved how we were eating breakfast for dessert!

What it really was was a piece of the 19 500 piece puzzle outside where each guest plays a part in assembling, a clear pouch of dehydrated slices of vegetables and popping candy to go with some parsnip milk.   TimmyC playing his part in the puzzle.    While we were eating, they started settling up a cooking station on the table. No breakfast is complete without bacon and eggs! Our server begins to tell us a story that they have special chickens which were purely fed on bacon sandwiches, they in turn have laid eggs that have been branded with the Fat Duck stamp.

It was amazing to see the bacon crème anglaise being turned into ‘scrambled eggs’ with the help of liquid nitrogen, which was then served with candied pancetta and a sweet bread with a crunchy toffee crust. We were also given a Fat Duck marmalade to go with it all and you could eat the lid of the jar! I couldn’t stop giggling throughout the whole course.    Fat Duck special chicken eggs.Bacon and Eggs made the Heston way!  

WHISKY WINE GUMS

Wow, for someone who doesn’t usually drink I was SOOOO impressed with this. After taking a million photos, we had to enquire about what to do next. We were instructed to peel off each wine gum in sequential order and place it on our tongues.

I thought it was awesome that these gums were just stuck to the side of the glass in the frame! I placed the first one on my tongue and as it dissolved, the taste of whisky flooded my mouth, I could feel the warmth going down my throat, my nostrils cleared and with some of the gums I could even sense some oak flavour in there.

If I didn’t think Heston was a genius before, I did now!

1) Glenlivet (12 yr)       2) Oban (14 yr)       3) Highland park (18 yr)     4) Lark distillery – damn this was so strong            5) Laphroaig (10 yr)

 Cheers!

“LIKE A KID IN A SWEET SHOP”

We were each given a striped bag filled with sweets. It was a sad departing gift like when you get a lolly bag at the end of a birthday party, but we knew that this experience had to come to an end, after all it had been almost 5 hours already.

Inside the bag was instructions, of course we needed instructions because throughout the meal we had been unsure what to eat, how to eat it and what to do next. At first we had to smell the card, it was perfumed to smell like you had just entered a lolly shop, I couldn’t stop sniffing it! It then sort of described the rest of the sweets without giving too much away.Aerated chocolate Mandarin jelly. This was like biting into an aero bar with a jelly, definitely a must for those who like to pair citrus and chocolate.Apple pie caramel with an edible wrapper (no need to unwrap). I couldn’t really taste the apple pie side of things but I loved how the wrapper dissolved away to reveal a rich caramel flavour. The wrapper itself apparently takes 4 days to make, which is such a shame when it dissolves so fast in your mouth.The Queen of Hearts she made some tarts… There was a mini envelope and the waitress said we could eat the seal which tasted like white chocolate. Inside was a Queen of Hearts playing card which you could bite into and it tasted like white chocolate with a filling.Oxchoc Wagyu Nougat, Guiness and beef caramel. I didn’t read what this really was until I ate it, I wouldn’t have picked it to have beef fat in there, it just tasted like a delicate layered truffle with some salty hints in it.        

Beverages~

Fat Duck Juice (200mL $15.00)

Orange – squash. It was really hard to describe the taste. I could taste orange and something else but I wouldn’t have picked it was butternut squash.Apple – blood plum. I thought this tasted like eating a whole handful of pink nerds but a less intense sweetness. I thought this was more interesting than my orange – squash juice. When the sommelier was describing the process of making this juice it sounded really complex.Romano pepper – strawberry infused with mint and ginger. It had a strong smell of roasted capsicum and when you had a sip you can really taste roasted capsicum but towards the end, the flavour lifts to reveal a sweet strawberry after taste.Tea there was a unique tea menu that included a $75 pot of Puer Tea from the 1970’s. I just went with Iron Buddga Oolong tea (Fujian, China $15.00) where the tea setup was elaborate and the tea was steeped for exactly three minutes.Wine pairings ($200.00 per person) One of us went for the tasting wines that matched our 15 courses. He enjoyed it every glass of the way and was pleasantly surprised by the show sparkling shiraz and was keen to get his hands on some himself. He said that each wine course matched perfectly with the food.

2013 Gruener Veltliner Federspiel, Loibner, Weingut Knoll (Wachau)

2013 M3, Shaw and Smith, Adelaide Hills (South Australia)

Sake Junmai, Tengumai, Yamahai Jikomi (Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan)

2014 Watervale, Mount Horocks, Riesling, Clare Valley (South Australia)

2004 Show sparkling, limited release Shiraz, Seppelt, Grampians (Victoria)

2012 Tout Pres by Farr, Pinot Noir, Geelong (Victoria)

2012 Noble Rot Semillon, Henschke, Eden Valley (South Australia)We probably finished the menu tasting in 5 hours, the last hour was spent really checking out the kitchen, talking to Matt the head sous chef, other chefs who were cooking and Jonathan the head chef when he eventually came in towards the end of the meal to see how things were going (he was stuck in meetings all day). Even between courses Matt encouraged us to wander through the kitchen and check things out. Everyone was super friendly, focused, passionate and you can see in some photos they are also a little cheeky.Before we left, we were handed an envelope that contained our menu which was sealed with wax. We asked if we could eat this seal too but apparently it was really made out of waxAs we left, the little door in the hallway appeared to be opened and inside was chef busily working in the kitchen.So what did I think? I thought the whole experience was absolutely amazing! Yes not all flavours appealed to me but it would be impossible to get a menu to cater for everyone’s palette. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience, I was constantly amazed and I would do it all over again in a heart beat.

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I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it!

I hope I didn’t get that song stuck in your head

Despite swapping my tanned legs for thick stockings, fresh sweet pineapple juice for hot tea and lazy sleep-in days on a king bed for early morning wake ups to get to work somewhat on time.
I am over the moon today because it is just sinking in that I’ll be flying out to Melbourne tomorrow for a very special lunch. Whenever there is a silent moment in my head I start thinking about it and do a little excited dance on the spot. EEEEEP! I cannot wait!
*deep breath*
This is just a courtesy warning that I’ll be spamming your feeds tomorrow
🙂

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!

Neighbourhood food 

Nothing makes you hope that a restaurant is good like when your friend tells everyone that you’ve recommended a restaurant for dinner that night and then to correct her by saying that you have never been yourself but you’ve heard nice things. That’s exactly what happened when we went to Neighbourhood food in Gungahlin.

I wasn’t quite sure exactly where it was but when we found it, I was surprised to see how casual/cafe style and dim lit it was. I hope the food is better than then decor.

Entree~

Garlic pizza bread ($6.00). A nice pizza base, I just wasn’t a huge fan of the garlic that they used.Garlic mushroom bruschetta garlic and butter sauteed mushrooms served on crusty bread topped with herbs ($12.00). I really expected at least two pieces for the price. It was okay, the garlic tasted like it was from a jar but there were plenty of mushrooms and toppings on the singular toasted slice of bread.Tomato bruschetta diced tomato, fresh basil, bocconcini served on crusty bread ($12.00).

Mains~

Steak and mushroom pappardelle in butter and pepper sauce ($22.00). Although in theory this had my name written all over it, I didn’t think it had enough depth to the dish. I really enjoyed the pasta texture, but I found the steak pieces too tough and I ended up eating more of TimmyC’s risotto.Lamb shank risotto slow cooked lamb shank with peas and ricotta ($28.00). This was on the specials board and I stand by what Jerry Seinfeld said when he said: “I don’t want to hear the specials. If they’re so special, put ’em on the menu.”, but I had food envy as soon as I tasted this. The lamb shank was tender, the risotto was perfect and the ricotta was creamy and despite the fact that I don’t eat peas, I just swallowed them whole in my bites. Damn, should have ordered the special.Seafood risotto Barramundi, calamari and prawns ($22.00). My friend said she really enjoyed this dish despite the fact that her risotto was slightly over cooked.Pizza~ we were surprised about the size of the pizza when they set it down, but they were so good we ended up eating all of it anyway. I really liked their pizza base and generosity of toppings.

Classic supreme pizza pepperoni, capsicum, olives, pineapple, onion, bacon and mozzarella ($22.00).

Neighbourhood pizza ham, chicken prawns, fetta and mozzarella (lge $24.00).Vegetarian pizza capsicum, onion, mushrooms, olives, artichokes, pineapple and mozzarella (sml $13.00).Sides~

Rocket salad ($8.00). My friend’s Mum was doing the responsible thing on the table ordering a side salad.My friends and I really enjoyed it here, it is nice to have good food tucked away in the suburbs. I am definitely keen to come back and try some of their prawn pastas. The service was exceptional, they were very friendly, knowledgeable about their menu and very attentive with drinks.

Venue: Neighbourhood food

Address54 Ernest Cavanagh St Gungahlin, ACT

Phone02 6241 5819

Websitehttp://www.neighbourhoodfood.com.au/

Opening hours:

Brunch
Saturday – Sunday
9:00am – 2:00pm
Dinner
Tuesday – Saturday
Open from 5:30pm

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