The Pancake Place

The Pancake Place might seem like an unusual choice for dinner but they have an extensive savoury crepe menu and then there are some people who still act like they are five and choose sweet pancakes for dinner *looks at TimmyC*.

This establishment has been in Port Macquarie for more than 20 years and it brings much nostalgia to those who used to come here for a treat as a kid, not because it is still open and serving delicious pancakes, but because the decor, friendly hospitality and uniform have not changed much since.

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If we are going to do a kid indulgent meal, we may as well complete it with an iced caramel ($6.50) and iced coffee ($6.50). It is very nicely decorated with cream, ‘tv snacks’ and sprinkles.
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Large stack of 3 pancakes ($14.90) with extra ice cream ($1.50) and extra syrup. Thick fluffy pancakes that have never disappointed. I’m glad that we got an extra scoop otherwise I don’t think they would have gone far enough for three pancakes. I also like how if you want extra syrup they leave it with you at the table.

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Gourmet crepes~

Each savoury crepe comes with a soft roll with delicious butter. The meals came out at lightning speed, drinks and water came out within minutes of ordering and in less than 10 minutes all meals were on the table.

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Bologneseprime ground beef with onions, mushrooms, garlic, tomato and red wine, topped with a mild cheese sauce (lite bites $16.90).

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Chicken and asparaguschicken, mild cheese and asparagus with our creamy wine sauce (lite bites $18.90).

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Mexicanprime ground beef with chilli, capsicum and beans topped with melted cheese (lite bites $16.90). Obviously not authentic, just an Australian Mexican version complete with Doritos corn chips. I chose a small one so I could fit in sweet pancakes for dessert but even after eating the small one I was stuffed. Lite bites just mean there is less filling. The salad was very bright filled with unusual things such as kiwi fruit, watermelon, zucchini, red cabbage, pretzels, tomatoes, pineapple, canned fruit and fresh strawberries.

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Always fast friendly service here at the Pancake Place, but I think that the savoury crepes lacked a bit of salt and flavour having only used very mild cheeses and the ‘cream of the crop’ choice on the menu would be their sweet pancake options.

Venue: The Pancake Place

Address: Clarence Street, Port Macquarie, New South Wales 2444, Australia

Phone: (02) 6584544 They apparently don’t take reservations during the peak holiday season, it is a first come first serve basis but we didn’t have any trouble getting a seat for dinner.

Pancake Place on Urbanspoon

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PappaRich – rerun

After hearing about complaints that I went to PappaRich without certain people, off we went together to play the ‘line ride’ to eat Malaysian food after their official opening (see my previous visit before they officially opened here). Initially there was 5 of us for the waiting ticket but after some delays we just cut the number down to 3,  we probably would have gotten in sooner if we initially only had the three of us but by the time we adjusted the number and got seated it ended up being a 40 minute wait. I didn’t find this too bad if you have ever waited for a table for yum cha in Sydney, but for those who aren’t used to it, they might consider the wait too long or the large crowd waiting around too daunting. The annoying thing is that you have to wait around for the ticket to be called, at least at Jamie’s Italian they give you a buzzer when a table becomes available so you can continue shopping until then.

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When we got inside, we were greeted with friendly faces and a bustling crowd of happy patrons.

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Drinks~

These drinks are perfect as a refreshing beverage on a hot Summer’s day.

Lemon Iced tea ($3.90).

Ribeana melon ($6.50).

a blurry photo of an Iced chocolate ($4.20).

and a Mango mania ($6.50).

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We were so excited about so many things, we just ordered what we wanted but the problem with that was the table couldn’t fit all our food despite conglomerating everything as it arrived and just when I thought everything complete, the noodles came and we had to pull up a chair to accommodate it.

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We ordered some things that I’ve already tried before like:

Hainan chicken rice set ($12.90).

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20131215-175459.jpgRoti canai with chicken curry ($12.50), 1 extra roti canai ($4.90).

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Then we ordered some new things:

Pappa deep fried chicken skin ($6.90). I wouldn’t eat this as a ‘main meal’ or anything but as a snack between mouthfuls of curry and roti, it made for an addictive salty snack. The unplucked feathers can be a bit off putting.

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Pappa Char Koay Teow wok-fried flat noodles with prawns, egg and bean sprouts. This dish is mildly spicy ($12.90). I was eager to order this because a Malaysian friend said that they used authentic noodles in their char koay teow here and I was keen to see what that meant. I was surprised to find that the noodles were thin almost like pad thai noodles, but overall I found that the dish a bit bland only consisting of egg and bean sprouts, some fish slices and only two prawns tossed to the side. I much prefer my noodles to have lots of shallots, soy sauce and fatty Chinese sausage.

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Even the fish pieces didn’t offer much in the way of taste. 20131215-175728.jpg

Satay mixed 3 sticks of chicken satay and 3 sticks of beef satay ($13.90). I am always wary of ordering anything other than chicken on a satay stick as I think the other meats get tough and over cooked and it was no different here. The beef satay sticks were hard to chew and were nowhere near as nice as the moist tender chicken. Stick to the chicken satay sticks! 20131215-175622.jpg

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Tandoori chicken ($8.90). I was surprised to find this on the menu but it was a moist chicken leg piece with all the spices served with a creamy yoghurt.

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Dessert~

Roti bom a variant of roti canai. It is thicker and sweeter and served with condensed milk and sugar ($7.90). I was determined to make space for the dessert roti that everyone kept talking about. It really is a thicker roti which made the centre more doughy. I didn’t think it was sweet enough or needed more condensed milk despite other people’s thoughts that it was sweet enough as is but I don’t think it is worth almost $8.00 for a bread with a bit of dip when for a few extra dollars you could get a whole meal with a roti canai. Sorry people, I really did want to love this.

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Despite saying I was full, it didn’t stop me from ‘tasting’ my friend’s meal as we were leaving the restaurant.

I’m used to having my silken tofu dessert with more of a gingery syrup but this had a very caramel/coffee taste to it. The texture was silky, smooth and perfect.

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Hainan toasted bread with peanut butter. This was one super thick paste of sticky peanut butter but overall nothing special.

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Even though I’ve been here twice and tried to order lots of things, there are still many menu items that I would like to try. If you don’t go overboard, a tasty meal can be rather cheap if you don’t mind a bit of a wait to get in.

Outback Jacks bar and grill

—–15 Dec 2013—–

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

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

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

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

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That’s not a knife, this is a knife!

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

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

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Entrees~

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

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Mains~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Desserts~

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

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

Where’s the sauce?

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

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

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

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

Venue: Outback Jacks Bar and Grill

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

Phone: (02) 6251 8381

Outback Jacks on Urbanspoon

Rama’s Fijian Indian restaurant

I haven’t been to Rama’s for years but when my friend request hot and spicy food to celebrate her birthday, I knew exactly where to take her. I don’t think that the true south side has that many great restaurants so I’m glad to have this ‘on our side’.

As we went around the table and ordered our dish with our preference of heat, we were warned that medium was quite hot here and the hot was really really hot. Perfect, that was why we were here and that’s why I had raita and mango lassi at hand.

Mango lassi a cool Indian yoghurt drink, mango flavour ($3.50). A strong mango flavour that was very thick meant that they haven’t watered down the drink to save costs.

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Complimentary pappadums– they came out as an unexpected surprise, they were hot and crispy just like a pappadum should be.

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Bhajia shredded spinach, garlic, onion and ground lentils shaped into patties then deep fried (3 pieces per serve $11, added one extra $3.75). It wasn’t that oily despite being deep fried but it tasted much better with the tamarind sauce and the yoghurt.

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Fijian pork curry cubes of pork cooked with capsicum, onion and coriander leaves in a tangy, spicy sauce (MED spicy $23.00). I really appreciated the rub marinade on the pork, it made the pork very flavoursome and the meat was very tender. This dish was spicy but not overwhelming and we all agreed, very addictive.

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Prawn masala prawns cooked with onion, garlic, tomato and fresh coriander, in a spicy tomato based sauce (MED spicy $23.50). The prawn masala had a really rich tomato onion sauce with a slight hint of chilli. I loved having the sauce mixed with rice, very delicious.

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Garlic paratha wholemeal pan fried bread with garlic ($2.70 each). The wholemeal made this bread heavy and I didn’t recognise it to be paratha (I thought they gave us the wrong bread), it didn’t have much of a garlic taste to it either.

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Prawns saabji prawns cooked with onion, garlic and tomato in a creamy spinach sauce (HOT spicy$23.50). I was quite wary of this dish with fear of it burning a hole in my head. It was hot hot but affected my tongue in different areas to the pork and it really hits the back of your throat and your sinuses. I relayed between the curry and sips of lassi, it was hot but not unbearable.

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Sides~

Dhal thick spiced lentil soup. A great accompaniment for rice ($9.25). The dahl was a happy surprise. I ordered it as a non meaty alternative and a safe haven between bites of other curries. It was a rich and flavoursome dish with the lentils forming a thick soft textured soup.

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Raita grated cucumber in spiced yoghurt. Ideal for cooling the palate ($5.00).

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It was lovely to have a variety of dishes that were all curries, all packed heat yet had such different flavours. I haven’t eaten hot curries for so long, I was quite surprised that towards the end of the meal I found the raita quite sour and the lassi stupidly sweet.

The service was very friendly just as I remembered with the now owner walking around checking with the customers if they were satisfied. We were very satisfied and unfortunately couldn’t fit in dessert.

Venue: Rama’s Fijian Indian restaurant

Address: Shop 6, Pearce Shopping Centre/Macfarland Crescent, Pearce ACT 2607

Phone: (02) 6286 1964

Ramas Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Food coma -Thanksgiving 2013

A work friend of mine was disappointed in last years Thanksgiving festivities which resulted in her eating leftovers by herself on the day and celebrations were on hold until the weekend, so she took it upon herself this year to host her first Thanksgiving. Australia isn’t the biggest on gobbling down turkeys but obtaining one wasn’t too hard (Costco approximately 7kgs – $50.00). This thing was huge and almost took up most of the space in our small Australian oven.

The secret and tips to an amazing moist turkey: leaving time for turkeys to defrost (nothing worse than a half frozen turkey on Thanksgiving day!), marinating the whole turkey in a brine mixture overnight, buttering on top and under the skin.20131128-200327.jpg

After teasing us with its tantalizing smell for four hours, the turkey was finally ready with a gorgeous golden tan and succulent tender meat.20131128-200611.jpg

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Check out the size of the wing!

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A potluck lunch means  a wonderful mix of moist cornbread, salads, roast vegetables, dressing and homemade gravy *drool*. I only took a photo of my first plate. 20131128-200557.jpg

All finished off with a homemade pumpkin pie. So many spices with the sweetness of roast pumpkin equals a very good end to the meal.

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Nothing but a speckle of meat left and a carcass ready for stock making.

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That’s the perk of working with a diverse multicultural group, experiencing holidays from other cultures!      HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!

Now excuse me as I enter into a food coma…  

Home is where my heart (and tummy) is

——-06/04/2012——-

It’s hard to show off Canberra’s culinary finest when most restaurants over the Easter weekend were either shut or charging an exorbitant surcharge. I ended up taking my Mumsy and sister to Noble Palace– service was terrible and although the food was good, our experience was tarnished but the long (loooooooong) wait, Tudo– the food was below average (which is a shame considering I love this place) and D’browse– some of the dishes were disappointing but overall it was good.

But the best meals we had over the weekend was the delicious food we ate at home. Steamed scallops with ginger, steamed garlic prawns, marinated pork chops, mornay oysters and tamarind chicken wings. We also enjoyed delicious hot cross buns from the Flute bakery and awesome hot cross bun ice-cream from Mr. Frugii.

I stole these photos from my sister because I was too busy stuffing my face

Timmy made a delicious smooth vanilla bean panna cotta with a plum and cinnamon sauce made with the jam by Black Horse. So creamy and evenly flecked with vanilla bean seeds.

I hope you all had a safe and delicious Easter break!