OTIS Dining Hall

It seemed like a particularly long week at work, so I convinced my friend that we should deservedly go to have lunch at OTIS to celebrate surviving the first week back.

We had the 3 course deal for $64.00 pp but I’ve listed the à la carte prices.

Starters~

Spaghetti no. 5, pecorino, pepper and truffle ($18.00). This is definitely a dish best eaten hot. I couldn’t really taste any truffle because it was so pepper dominant, but I love pepper and cheese so this worked really well for me. The serve was small so the taste didn’t become monotonous.Mains~

Baked ocean trout, hollandaise, spring vegetables ($32.00). My friend really enjoyed her main. I tried the hollandaise sauce and it had a wonderful zesty kick to it.OTIS pepper steak, silk-wood brandy jus, side of frites ($42.00). If you know me, you know I love my steak and now you know I love my pepper, so you mathematically I would love this dish (and I did!) but what made me take my breath away was the jus. It is so rich that not long after pouring it onto my plate, it started to form a skin. Not only did it give a great flavour enhancement to the beef, it made for the best dipping sauce for my fries.Desserts~

Magnum and meringue, lemon curd, shortbread ($16.00). A great combination. The perfect amount of sweetness with the perfect amount of zest, served within an array of textures.Crème caramel, whisky, smoked sea salt ($16.00). This was so smooth and rich and while I did really enjoy it, I found myself having to flick back and forth between the lemon curd of the other dessert to break up the intense sweetness.The staff were very friendly and attentive. We had long lunch to enjoy to the whole experience and we left feeling full and very satisfied. My friend was so impressed that she already decided when she was going back (without me too!).

Such comfy comfy seats!Venue: OTIS Dining Hall

Address: 29 Jardine St, Kingston ACT 2604

Phone:  (02) 6260 6066

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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.

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

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!

Bowral get away- Centennial Vineyards Restaurant

——-24/11/2012——-

For a quaint area like Bowral, it’s surprising how many awesome places there are to eat. You can’t get through all the places in one go though otherwise you would never leave, so every time I come back I like to try some place new. Centennial Vineyards restaurant came highly recommended for fabulous food so I quickly put it on my ‘definitely must visit’ list. 

My friends chose two courses each from the a la carte menu while I chose the Chef’s 3 course special for $80.00.

What a cute little welcome.

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What a glorious day to be out and about in Bowral.

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Complimentary bread served with stunning olive oil.

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Amuse bouche~

Vegan option: root vegetables.

Duck with hoisin sauce.

Entree~

Vegan Spring salad with white and green asparagus, spring vegetables and petite leaves ($19.50). The fancy green ribbons turned out to be celery, as nice as this plate looked, I wouldn’t want this as my side let alone my entree.

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Broad bean and sour cream pastry tartBroad bean tart, red pepper coulis, petit spring vegetables and local zucchini flower. I surprised myself when I ordered a vegetarian entree but this intrigued me the most. The zucchini flower was perfectly fried coming out hot but not overly oily. It was a little hard trying to combine all the elements of the plate together in every bite but overall the flavours were lovely and the presentation was beautiful.

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Mains~

Vegan Spring risotto. Wow, this was beautiful to look at. I almost didn’t want my friend to touch it and ruin the contrasting colours but after that salad that she was given, I’m sure she was hungry. The flowers added more for the colour rather than taste. My friend said she really enjoyed the flavours and said it was a really nice risotto.

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Free Range Bannock burn chickenpan seared chicken breast, sautéed red cabbage and pancetta, fondant potato and sauce veloute. When I tried this from my friend’s plate, the potato fondant was a bit soggy from the sauce and the chicken skin wasn’t really crispy but my friend assured me it’s because I took it from a bad side and that the dish was wonderful with crispy skin but succulent chicken meat.

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“Tova Platinum” Beef FilletSouthern Highlands grass fed beef fillet, gingerbread crust, braised Wagyu intercostals, shallots, garlic and smoked pork belly, celery puree and caper Bearnaise. One of the best pieces of beef I have had in a long time with little to no effort in cutting. The flavours of the crust were intense but not enough to over power the steak completely despite also having a puree and a Bearnaise sauce.

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I had to zoom into this little gem, it was so tasty, it was like eating a well honey seasoned Christmas ham. Magic in my mouth.

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Sides~

Fries with aioli ($7.50). We didn’t know how full we would be from the mains, especially after the initial skimpy vegan salad, so we ordered a side of fries. They came out hot and crispy and the aioli was really light and whipped.

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Desserts~

Strawberry and lemon soufflé – strawberry free form souffle with lemon, mint and textures of strawberry ($17.00). A very lemon-y tasting souffle which overshadowed the strawberries a little. A very delicate dessert with light refreshing flavours.

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Banana and butterscotch gateaubanana mousse layered with caramelised banana and cinnamon cake with butterscotch sauce ($17.00). I surprised myself again by ordering a banana dessert, I’m not the biggest fan usually. The bottom of the gateau was like a dense banana cake topped with chopped banana, banana cream and white chocolate, although I think the star of the dessert was the smooth rich butterscotch sauce.

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Despite the crazily high prices, everything was splendid- the food, the staff, the presentation and the flavours all added to the wonderful dining experience. I’m surprised it has such a low Urbanspoon rating. During the lunch sitting that day, everyone was seated in the enclosed patio which allowed beautiful natural light to come through as they were setting up for a wedding reception inside.

Venue: Centennial Vineyards Restaurant

Address: 252 Centennial Road, Bowral, NSW

Phone: (02) 4861 8722 

Website: http://www.centennial.net.au/

ACT Entertainment book: Yes! On the gold card and it definitely makes a difference!

Centennial Vineyards Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Lunch with George

——-04/11/2012———

It doesn’t take much to convince me to take a quick drive down the road to have lunch by the lake and it was such a lovely day for great company and good food.

Just having a spot of tea while the ladies indulge in the winery’s chardonnay 2009.

I’m ready for lunch!

Entree~ 

One wonders if they had too much roquette in the kitchen that day.

Garlic bread 

ScallopsQueensland half shell scallops, zucchini puree and smoked tomatoes ($17.00). This was a bit too salty with the tomatoes and zucchini. 

SquidSalt and pepper squid served with westerings spicy mayonnaise ($17.00). This was fabulous! A crispy layer coating very tender pieces of squid.

TartGoat cheese tart, roasted baby beets, prosciutto salad, aged balsamic ($16.00). The goat cheese wasn’t too strong but the tartlet shells were too thick for my liking.

Bruschettawild forest mushrooms and Persian fetta ($17.00). A lovely mixture of mushrooms, my friend said it was lovely. 

Mains~

Chicken Marinated chicken stacked with grilled mint Haloumi, crispy pancetta and skordalia ($28.00). I love Haloumi so I stole all of Timmy’s  pieces but I didn’t think this dish was a particularly special.

BarramundiWild barramundi fillet with smashed peas, salsa rosso and prosciutto sail ($29.00).

Rib eyeRib eye on the bone, baked olive parmesan gnocchi, wilted spinach, red wine and rosemary jus ($33.00). A big piece of meat but it wasn’t the best steak I’ve ever had. The parmesan gnocchi had an interesting texture and I had to re-read the menu to figure out what it was.

Linguine Pan fried prawns, chilli, garlic, semi-dried tomatoes and citrus splash ($28.00). Delicious prawns and a lovely pasta.

DuckDuck confit, Dutch carrots, blood orange, sauterne jus ($27.00). My friend ate the whole thing so it must have been a tasty crispy duck.

Desserts~

There were five dessert choices and there were five of us, it was only logical that we tried one of everything.

White chocolate Zabaglione with berry compote ($13.00). Subtle flavours but it had an odd texture, somewhere between whipped egg whites and froth. They served waaay too much compote.

Vanilla bean panna cotta with warm spring fruit salad ($13.00). The softest panna cotta while still holding it’s shape, it had the most wonderful vanilla taste but the stewed fruit was a bit too much.

Profiterole sandwich with raspberry semi freddo and baked rhubarb ($13.00). This sounded like the most exciting dessert and presentation wise it was beautiful, alas the choux pastry was a bit stale so we ate around it to get to the tasty semi freddo.

Lemon brulee tart with blueberries ($13.00). I thought the base a little thick but delicious.

Chocolate marquise with mixed sorbet ($13.00). This was INTENSE! The sorbets were a lovely and refreshing contrast to pure rich chocolate that was in this dessert.

Lake George Winery isn’t really that far away but at the same time it is far enough to get out from the Canberra and enjoy the surrounding picturesque scenery.

Venue: Lake George Winery

Address: Federal Highway, Lake George, Collector, NSW, 2581

Phone:  (02) 4848 0182

Website: http://www.lakegeorgewinery.com.au/

Opening times:

Restaurant Opening Times:

Thursday to Sunday – 9:00am to 4.30pm

Cellar Door Opening Times:

Wednesday to Sunday – 9:00am to 4.30pm

Lake George Winery Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Italian and Sons – vino e cucina

——-23/11/2012——-

One of my long awaited restaurants that I have wanted to go to for a while now (I probably should have tried booking a lot earlier), although they only had a restricted time slot we took the reservation and tried to eat as fast as we could.

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They had an authentic Italian menu offering pizza biancas to house made pastas and hearty secondi options.

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Antipasti~

‘suppli’ pear and gorgonzola risotto balls ($16.00). I knew Italian and Sons was pricey but I still expected more than three risotto balls for $16.00. The sauce was a very strong sharp gorgonzola but when paired with the risotto it was perfect.

roast portobello mushroom ‘gratinati’ ($15.00). This was hot but salty and after serving we essentially got one mushroom each.

Pasta~

gnocchi di patateseared potato gnocchi with wild mushroom ragu and house smoked ricotta ($28.00). I’ve never had a seared gnocchi before but despite the sear the gnocchi was very light. This didn’t have any sauce but because of the moisture and texture of the mixtures of mushrooms it didn’t matter.

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Secondi~

Roast pork belly ($31.00) – A nice piece of pork with crispy skin on top of a bed of lentils.

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Dolci~

Flourless amedi chocolate torte, baked rhubarb and brandy gelato ($13.00). This felt like a thick mousse layer sandwiched between two thin layers of cake. It had a very rich dark chocolate taste but it was somewhat balanced out by the gelato (the gelato didn’t taste like brandy though).

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Tira mi su ($12.00). I couldn’t directly compare theirs to Mezzalira because it had been so long but both in my memory are magical and amazing. My friend who doesn’t even usually eat tiramisu shared my thoughts and my dessert. imageimage

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A very busy little restaurant but the service was impeccable and attentive. Somewhat noisy and dim lighted inside, not the best lighting for food.

Venue: Italian and Sons – Vino e Cucina

Address: 7 Lonsdale St, Braddon, ACT 2612

Website: wwww.italianandsons.com.au

Phone: (02) 6162 4888

Italian and Sons - Vino e Cucina on Urbanspoon

Kusina

——-22/11/2012——-

I know some people aren’t going to be happy that I went to Kusina without them (sorry Dan!), but just think of it as a test run. I’ve seen the menu and there are a lot of things I want to try.

Kusina is a newly opened Filipino restaurant offering unique beverages, mains and sides.

I’m ready to eat! I love the double walled glasses.

Entree~

Lumpiang Sariwa (2pcs)fresh spring roll, crepe wrapper with stir fried vegetables ($7.00). This is a fresh take on a spring roll! The vegetable stir fry was served nice and hot and although I didn’t eat this with any finesse, it was very delicious.

Pritong Manok (5pcs)crispy chicken wings, banana ketchup mayonnaise ($7.00). I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again- I’ve got a soft spot for chicken wings so as non adventurous as this entree is, I still chose it. Who knew I’d enjoy the vegetarian entree more, these were like crispy wicked wings from KFC without the heat.

Mains~

Chicken Inasal grilled spring chicken, lemon grass, garlic, ginger and soy sauce ($18.50). I had trouble deciding on a main so when I asked the waitress, she said this dish was the most popular dish and she wasn’t lying because I saw everyone around me order it as well. This had a nice charcoal taste and the meat was nice and moist.

Lechon Kawaiicrispy pork belly ($18.50). As short as this description was, we were sold! Somewhat fatty but they weren’t lying, it was VERY crispy. It isn’t really a special dish nor did it have unique flavours but if you love pork with crispy skin, you will think it’s awesome.

Dessert~

Even though we were really really full and the dessert menu looked tempting, I convinced my friend to go to ‘that gelato place‘ with me which just opened up next door, but Kusina also had a great selection of cakes including a crazily tall purple yam cake, mini cupcakes and cupcakes.

Being the only restaurant in the area serving breakfast, Kusina can get very busy, so definitely book to avoid disappointment.

Venue: Kusina

Address: Whitney Place, Cooleman Court, Weston Creek, ACT (next to ‘that gelato place’)

Phone: (02) 6288 8461

Kusina on Urbanspoon

Ha Ha bar

——-04/08/2012——-

I was excited to head to the Ha Ha bar in Belconnen as it is one of the few restaurants along the street that I haven’t been to for dinner.

Entree~

Breads and dips grilled artisan breads with house made dips ($12.00) We asked them what the dips were (chilli and tomato, olives, hummus and pesto) and lucky we did because only one out of the four dips really tasted like anything. 

Crispy calamari smoked chilli aoili and fresh lemon ($14.00) Nice crispy calamari that wasn’t chewy and stringy.

Grilled Spanish chorizo with roast garlic aioli and grilled bread ($15.00) Unfortunately from this photo you can’t see that one side of the chorizo was really burnt.

Special~

Fetta in carrozzacrumbed fetta with a medley of mixed tomatoes and fresh basil ($16.00). I do love combining the flavours of cheese, tomato and basil. They have gone one better by crumbing the fetta!

Mains~

Grilled chicken salad with cous cous, beets, roast pumpkin, walnuts, onion, fetta, tomatoes and mixed leaves ($23.00). An okay salad but nothing to write home about.

12” pizzas:

Ha Ha pizza Sicilian meat balls, Italian sausage, proscuitto, roast chicken, chilli, mozzarella and olives ($23.00). Surprisingly not overly meaty, a great mix of flavours on a delicious base.

Margherita pizza tomato, mozzarella and basil ($18.00). The base really made all the difference which really brought out the simple flavours of the pizza.

Linguine with fresh local seafood, squid ink, garlic, chilli, olive oil and herbs ($27.00). This was truly a surprise when they put this down in front of me. For some reason in my head I thought I was getting squid ink pasta not squid ink mixed in with my pasta. There was a lot of chilli which almost made it unbearable to eat but there were a lot of prawns. It also didn’t look very appealing.

This is clearly not first (or any) date food. I had to wipe my lips after every bite and at the end my napkin was black. I dared not to bare my teeth at anyone while I was eating.

Even with the dim light you can see how black the dish was when I mixed it all through.

You might have noticed that we didn’t eat dessert which is very unsual, that’s because at 9:15pm ish they had only the cheese board left (1 out 4 desserts) which I thought was ridiculous considering they weren’t that busy.

I was excited to come here after a reading a review about delicious tapas and pork belly but they weren’t on the menu. The food was mediocre and the messy squid ink pasta ruined my dining experience. Maybe I’ll come back and see what brunch is like.

Venue: Ha Ha Bar

Address: 102 Emu Bank  Belconnen ACT 2617

Phone: (02) 6251 6110

Ha Ha Bar on Urbanspoon

Thai and the city

——-21/07/2012——-

With a busy dinner service and raving reviews from other patrons, I was very excited to try Alice’s Thai restaurant in the city. I was having dinner with one of my good friends who is a vegan and Asian restaurants are usually  more accommodating.

Entree~

Tao Hu Tord deep fried tofu served with peanuts in a sweet chilli sauce ($6.90) The tofu would have been nicer with some garlic, chilli and shallots. The outside was nice and crispy though.

Mains~

Pad Kratiem Prik Thai beef with garlic, pepper and onion ($16.90) Not the nicest stir fried beef but the sauce was lovely.

Pad Thai Thai style noodle with beansprouts and peanuts. One of the better noodles that I’ve had and it wasn’t overly sweet or cooked with tomato sauce. 

Vegan option~

 Stir fried vegetables with some tomato based sauce. Making vegan food doesn’t limit what you can make if you’re a good cook. We didn’t really enjoy this dish, it was almost like a tomato-ey sweet and sour sauce with mixed vegetables.

Coconut rice – subtle coconut taste.

The last few Thai restaurants I’ve been to have started serving a lot smaller portions while charging a lot more. Most of these dishes only filled half the plate with garnishes taking up the other half. I always thought Indian was the more expensive of Asian cuisine but Thai might be creeping up.

The service was very friendly and some dishes were better than others, I’d like to come back and try more traditional Thai dishes. They also have some great lunch specials too if you work close by.

Venue: Alice’s Thai Restaurant

Address: 19-21 East Row, Sydney Building, City ACT 2601

Phone: (02) 6162 0940

Alice's on Urbanspoon

Biota dining re-run

——-10/06/2012——-

Timmy and I were celebrating a special occasion and where better to go then Biota dining (again) and although I might have been slightly distracted, that didn’t stop me from taking photos of all the gorgeous plated food that was placed before us.

Complimentary bread~

House baked sour dough rye with smoked butter 


Complimentary starter~

White anchovy with brick bread. I love the presentation of this, it was slightly salty with a crispy texture.

Hendricks Gin and Tonic served with cucumbers ($10.00)

Reisling from the local Centennial Vineyards ($8.00) A beautiful wine, I really wanted to go to the vineyard but I didn’t get time.

Entrees~ ($23.00)

Duck egg, puffed grains, duck ham, celeriac and brassicas. Almost like a fancy take on bacon and eggs.I couldn’t tell it was a duck egg and I thought the puffed grains were the most interesting flavour and texture on the plate.

Cured mackerel, lettuce hearts, nashi, grape juices and lime.  A nice salty fish complimented by the sweetness of the fruits on the plate.

Mains~ ($39.00)

Spatchcock with pears, speck, hazelnuts and chestnut porridge. I thought the texture of the porridge was weird but I really enjoyed the pear and the twisted sweet pear skin twigs.

Glazed pork cheek, turnips, cauliflower, fig and mushrooms. Pork cheek wasn’t available so they substituted it with pork neck. The meat had a very sticky coating but everything was very good on the plate.

Desserts~ ($18.00)

Chocolate, salted caramel, popcorn, ginger juice sorbet and aero. Everything was really delicious although they went waaay overboard with the overwhelming coffee crumb.

Sweetened grass milk, peanuts, coffee crumb and hops ice-cream. The sweetened grassmilk covered in poppyseeds was one of the oddest things I have ever eaten. My favourite element on the plate was the peanuts surprisingly. 

I don’t know if the previous dining experience set the bar too high or I just didn’t particularly like Biota’s Winter menu but I didn’t enjoy my meal as much as the first time that I went despite a pleasant meal.

Venue: Biota Dining

Address: Southern Highlands, Kangaloon Rd, Bowral, NSW 2576

Phone: (02) 4862 2005 bookings recommended

Website: http://www.biotadining.com/

Wheelers Seafood Restaurant

——-09/06/2012——

I apologise in advance for my photos, the light was so dim where we were seated and I didn’t always want to use the flash.

I based my whole South Coast holiday around eating dinner at Wheelers Seafood Restaurant so expectations were high. We had previously stumbled across Wheelers while driving around in the area, the restaurant was booked out for the night but I thoroughly enjoyed having oysters and lobster for afternoon tea in their informal “take away” area.

Wild Ryes fresh baked panini served with butter, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic and confit of roast garlic ($7.00)

Entree~

1 dozen oysters (the menu said $32.00 but they only charged $30.00)- 6 Plumrick crisp bacon, sweet and spice plum Worcestershire 6 Mornay seeded mustard, chive, pancetta, rocket and gratin cheese. Mmmm definitely worth the trip for the oysters alone, although eating in apparently means charging almost double for the same oysters I enjoyed outside from their take away area. They were good but I think I’d prefer to sit outside next time.

Lamb fillet marinated in Middle Eastern spice blend, seared to medium served with Greek salad and pastry wrapped cous cous fingers finished with a mint yoghurt sauce ($21.00). We were tempted to order two dozen oysters to avoid fights but we didn’t want to spend $60 something just on entree. I opted for the lamb which had nice plating but if you deconstruct it, I was given 2 ‘spring rolls’ with little taste cut in half at an angle to make it look pretty and I literally was given 2 strips of lamb on top of a salad with yoghurt. Tasty but definitely not worth the price.

Battered Fish and chips ($33.00) Nothing special about the fish and chips but at least it wasn’t overly oily. 

Chilli prawn pastaQueensland banana prawns sauteed in chilli, garlic, basil, pancetta tossed with fettuccine, roast cherry tomatoes, baby spinach and parmesan cheese ($34.00)  The pasta was nice although I found the flavours of the tomatoes and baby spinach overwhelming to the prawns.

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Toblerone cocktail ($14.00)

This is what more Canberra restaurants should do, dessert platters for two, although there were some highlights and some disappointments to the plate.

Dessert taste plate for tworich warm chocolate pudding and chocolate ganache, honey and vanilla bean panna cotta with a strawberry and balsamic salad, apple crumble with house made baileys ice cream ($22.00)

The staff were very friendly and attentive and judging by the amount of people in the restaurant it is a town favourite. I found the overall experience rather quiet tasty but definitely overly expensive. 

Venue: Wheelers Seafood Restaurant

Address: 162 Arthur Kaine Drive, Pambula NSW, Australia

Phone: Oyster Farm – (02) 6495 6330

Restaurant – (02) 6495 6089

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