Mezze

It isn’t that often that TimmyC will hear about a new restaurant before I do but that was the case this time when he took me to Mezze in Manuka, which is located next to the cinema where Camellia used to be.
I don’t usually like having Turkish with one other person because it really limits you to what you can order, but we tried to be smart with our ordering, so we avoided eating a lot of bread and more delicious grilled meats.
We were going to order two grilled meats plates but after doing some quick calculations we realised it was much more economical getting the platter for two which encompassed what we wanted to order and many more delicious things. After we ordered the waitress asked us if we knew that the price was $40 per person and we said we were aware. There must have been awkward situations before that have led to clarification of the price before ordering.

 

Kebab platter minimum two people sis tavuk, sis kebab, kofte, pirzola with rice, salad, garlic bread and zucchini balls ($40.00 per person).
Zucchini balls. They were hot, crispy and fluffy but nothing special.
Garlic bread. I know I said we weren’t going to go bread heavy but there was a bit of bread in the banquet. I thought it was unusual that they were serving garlic bread at a Turkish restaurant but the twist is that they serve it on Turkish bread. I know this dish sounds simple but the bread was flatter than usual, it was really hot and crispy and it had a strong garlic flavour. We ate this so fast with no regrets! I’m craving some more as I write this.
 
The platter. I was surprised to see that one of the chefs came out to present us with our platter. Everything was super freshly cooked and very hot. Even though we had gorged ourselves on popcorn before, we ate everything on the platter but only left a bit of rice and salad. We were getting full but we couldn’t help ourselves.
The chicken kebabs and kofte were so moist and succulent, the lamb skewers were a little chewy (definitely eat them while they are hot) but the lamb chops albeit were overcooked, were still very delicious. It was refreshing to have the fresh salad, char grilled vegetables and rice on the side as the platter was rather meat heavy. I think my favourite thing on the plate were the kofte with spoonfuls of hot rice.
This is not a ‘buy a banquet for two which really serves four’ type of place, the servings are still on the larger size but it is about quality over quantity. Service was fantastic even though there was only one waitress, she was friendly and efficient and I also liked how the chef presented his food with pride. I would be curious to see what they serve for ‘Turkish breakfast’ on weekends.

Venue: Mezze
Address: Shop 8 Capitol Theatre BLDG, 17 Franklin St, Canberra ACT 2603
Opening hours:
Monday – Friday 11:00am – 11:00pm
Saturday – Sunday 8:00am – 11:00pm

Heng Hing Roast Inn

We were braving the Belconnen markets on Christmas eve eve with everyone scrambling to get their fresh seafood, fruit and groceries done before the big day by going there to eat lunch but I wanted to try something different/had a chance of opening.

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Lots of large photos and choices so you know what you’re getting.20131224-065145.jpg

Duck noodle soup with rice noodles ($13.50). Not an overly salty broth with the duck juices and skin lending itself for a bit of flavour while the soup made the duck not too salty. A great balance.

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Beef brisket with noodles ($13.50). In the typical Chinese braised sauce. I was rather impressed that this fatty tender cut of meat was cooked authentically.

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Combination chow mein ($16.50). Ever since Hidden dragon shut down I have been forever hunting down a good chow mein that has crispy egg noodle, not the tiny shards of fried stuff that is constantly being served everywhere and I think I have found one! A thick rich gravy covering a crispy egg noodle nest which was slowly absorbing the sauce.

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Roast pork and roast duck rice plate ($13.50). This is my ‘go to’ dish with a whole meal including vegetables is on one plate with my favourite two roast meats. The roast pork pieces are cut smaller than I’m used to and I found the meat had dried out a bit (they are supposed to cut the meat just before serving) but the succulent roast duck made up for the disappointment. I know what I’m getting next time!

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A very casual place to get some great authentic Chinese food and in the convenient spot where all the fresh produce is held. I wonder how good their laksa is… Hmmmm.

Venue: Heng Hing Roast Inn

Address: Shop 12A, Belconnen Fresh Food Markets, Belconnen

Phone: (02) 6253 4888

Opening hours: 8:00am – 6:00pm Wednesday – Sunday

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

Oh loneliness and cheeseburgers are a dangerous mix

Ok I wasn’t alone and technically it was a cheeseburger.

When I met up with friends last night to discuss details of our Japan trip, I might have eaten a speckle too much and on the verge of burping aioli all night but I did it in the name of research – which is best burger at Brodburger?

I thought to myself- why should I always order the same burger when I haven’t tried them all and established a true favourite? All the boys had already set their hearts on a brodchicken and I’ve already had a brodchicken so they were of no use to me. I was able to convince Anita to go halves in two burgers with me- brodburger with brie (its the one I usually get and was a backup for my tastebuds if I really didn’t like the others) and brodbattered fin and then also try a baby brodveggie on the side.

Now I’m a big red meat eater through and through but I much preferred the brodbattered fin over my brodburger and because I’m such a big fan of haloumi and eggplant, I think I might have even enjoyed the brodveggie the most (I’m surprised just as much as you)!

So just remember, just because you thought you hit the jackpot by liking the first thing you tried, you could still be missing out, but if you try something different and you don’t like it as much… Well I take no responsibility for that.

 

*No photos were taken as I was too busy stuffing my face.

Smoque ‘n hot

——-25/10/2012——-

Smoque must be a new restaurant in Canberra because it is packed and everyone wants in. There are three seating times for dinner: 5pm (who eats at 5?!), 7:30pm and 9pm. My friends and I squeezed into the 7:30pm session and the place was completely booked out.

It is a very much ‘help yourselves’ type of dining. You have to order at the counter, grab your own cutlery and napkins and order your drinks at the bar, but with such a busy restaurant and not so great staff, it is probably faster to order and get things yourself.

p.s. I love the carved pumpkin they have at the counter.

So many things to choose from, where to begin?

Ultimate Burgerbrisket, pork, cheddar, coleslaw, jalapeno & bacon ($19.90). My friend said that it was a really nice sandwich, this is what I want to try next! 

Smoque Ultimate – pulled pork, pork ribs, brisket, beef rib, ½ Chicken, 12 wings & 3 sides (options: three cheese mac n cheese, hand cut fries with house seasoning, red cabbage coleslaw, potato salad or Mexican street corn) serves 1-6 ($99.00). We ordered two of these because there were 8 of us and it fed us pretty well. They had sold out of mac and cheese so we chose a variety of the remaining sides, nothing special although I did enjoy the fries and potato salad. 

There was also corn bread and pickles on the platter, the bread was really dry and crumbly, I didn’t bother with either of them.

Pork ribs– they had a great salt rub on them and the meat was really tender.

Brisket– disappointing in comparison, a bit dry.

Pulled pork– it wasn’t overly great but it tasted better with the BBQ sauce that they had on the table but I wasn’t going to waste precious stomach space. It probably would be nice in a sandwich with some cheese.

Beef rib– these were huge! We were trying to cut the ribs into smaller portions, the meat was so tender that the bones didn’t even hold on.

½ Chicken– nice and moist.

12 Wings– I have a soft spot for wings so my delicious opinion might be slightly biased. I ordered all of the wings to be ‘regular’ because I didn’t want to risk accidentally eating a ‘suicidal’ one.

EEEP! I didn’t realise that I had forgotten to take a photo of the buffalo wings, my stomach must have acted before my photo fingers.   All I can tell you was that they were finger licking delicious. 

Not my idea but we also got two salads: 

The Woodstock – lentils, green beans, beetroot, rocket, feta cheese, green olives and coriander vinaigrette ($11.90).

Traditional Chop Salad – cos lettuce, red onion, tomato, cucumber, red capsicum, 

egg and ranch dressing ($11.90).

THEY SHIP!

The Smoque ultimate platter allows you to try a lot of the menu items so you can order your favourites next time. I’m still a little disappointed that I didn’t get mac and cheese but I also want to go back to have a ‘sandwich’. Yum Yum!   Warning: not a great first date type of meal, I had sauce all over my face. 

Venue: Smoque

Address: 2, 131 London cct, Canberra, city, ACT 2600

Phone: (02) 6162 3350

Smoque on Urbanspoon

Ellacure

——-02/06/2012——-

It has been a few years since I’ve been to Ellacure and it hasn’t changed much- I still got lost getting there, it’s still very busy with delicious food and a fantastic menu that is hard to choose just one thing from.

We thought we had it well timed, 2:30pm high tea and an 8:30pm dinner, we didn’t count on being so full after so many scrumptious cakes and pastries. Despite all of us saying how full we were and how we were just going to have one course as opposed to three, after looking at the menu, it didn’t take that much arm twisting to convince us to have three anyway.   

The hustle and bustle of the dining room even after 9pm.

Entrees~

Rosemary and sea salt pizza crust with garlic, pesto and olive spreads ($9.00) A nice variety of spreads but I was surprised to find the garlic one so sweet.

Twice cooked pork belly with apple and mint salsa ($18.00) The salsa was really nice and the pork wasn’t too fatty, the only disappointing thing was that the skin wasn’t really crispy.

Salt and pepper calamari, rocket and parmesan aioli ($17.00) I found the calamari to be small short fragmented pieces but the aioli was nice and it was the perfect parmesan to rocket ratio.

Creative salad(vegan $10.00) We let the chefs have creative control to develop a vegan salad. A nice mixture of pear, nuts, tomato, rocket topped with an oil dressing.

Mains~

Grilled lamb cutlets, parmesan polenta, smoked tomato chutney, rocket and feta ($34.00). My friend really enjoyed her lamb cutlets and she said they were grilled to perfection.

Spaghetti with baby spinach, cherry tomato, olives, capers and chilli (vegan $22.00). The pasta was a little oily but overall still very nice.

Specials~

Slow cooked lamb shanks on top of potato mash and a bed of lentils ($31.00). Really tender shanks but my friends found bits of it too fatty, other than that they cleaned it to the bone.

Beef eye fillet with blue vein cheese sauce on a bed of mashed potato ($36.00). I know mashed potato might not be special to some, but when done right my heart just melts. It was served hot (<which never happens) with a lovely texture.

It takes a lot to please me when I eat a steak at a restaurant, I’ve eaten plenty of $50.00+ steaks being very disappointed. I really enjoyed this dish from the steak to the mash and surprisingly (because I don’t usually eat blue vein cheese), the sauce!

A friend was kind enough to bring a beautiful cake from Patisserie New York

New Orleans Caramel Gooey Chocolate Cake- Southern classic flavours, moist tender chocolate sponge, layered and iced with toffied caramel and finished with caramel chocolate ganache. Delicious, thanks Mellie!

The staff were extremely friendly and attentive despite also being very busy. Great food, the only thing I can suggest is to book to avoid disappointment. I want to come back to try their brunch menu (and eat more of their food in general).

Venue: Ellacure

Address: Corner of Braybrooke and Battye Street, Bruce ACT 2617

Phone: (02) 6251 0990

Websitehttp://ellacure.com.au/

Opening hours: Lunch & Dinner 7 Days. Weekend Brunch from 8

Ellacure Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Cook your own at Tosung Charcoal BBQ

——-20/04/2012——-

After searching for this restaurant and doing a big loop around the block before we realised Tosung Charcoal Restaurant was across the road from where we first started, we were hungry and ready to eat! I have always been a fan of Korean BBQs and don’t mind the smokey BBQ smell that lingers in your clothes and hair afterwards.

Each table is fitted with a BBQ and exhaust fan.

We are all ready to go!

It was almost like being in a foreign country when they placed complimentary sides  for us and we didn’t ask what they were and instead we just hesitantly tried them all.

Starting from top left: shallot pancake(?)- it was cold and not that great, onions in a brown sauce– it had a raw texture but it didn’t taste raw, potato salad with apple (no photo)- so delicious! Just like how my grandma used to make it; a salad with a mystery pink sauce– the sauce had a really subtle faint hint of sweetness before really quickly leaving your mouth with no taste, how odd; a variety of sauces (no photo) and of course the national dish, Kimchi (no photo) which was really spicy.

Pan fried dumplings Gun Ma Du 5 pcs ($10.00) Delicious but really expensive for what it is.

Duck salad ($17.00) the duck tasted like a cured ham and the salad was covered in a really strong sauce but I couldn’t put my finger on what the flavour was. Definitely not worth $17.00 though.

Let’s start cooking! I ordered pork ribs, marinated chicken with teriyaki sauce and thin beef skirt. I was really disappointed that they didn’t have chicken wings on the menu (not very Korean I know) but it is one of my favourite things to eat.

Pork ribs ($19.00) the nicest meat we ordered.

Marinated chicken with teriyaki sauce ($19.00) I must have been doing it really wrong if the waitress had to come up after giggling and take the blunt scissors away from me after I attempted to desperately try to cut up the fatty chicken breast. She cut the chicken into smaller portions but it was still really fatty.

and thin beef skirt ($23.00) this was really fatty which I usually wouldn’t mind but not if half of the strip is solid fat.

The meats seemed a little bland even after dousing them with the random sauces provided.

Just in case cooking ourselves didn’t really work out I ordered marinated BBQ beef (So Bul Go Gi-$14.00) and rice. I had to get the rice topped up several times otherwise my friends wouldn’t get any. 

The staff were really attentive and I do like how they have a buzzer at every table to ask for staff but their English isn’t very good and they struggled to respond when I asked them something about the dish.

My friends and I might have failed at the cooking part and not really knowing what to do with the sauces didn’t really help either, but I wouldn’t come back here even with a Korean explaining everything to me. I found the meats poor quality, not much flavour in the food and everything was crazily overpriced. It came to around $35.00 per person and I left feeling really hungry still- disappointing.

Venue: Tosung Charcoal BBQ

Address: 15 Flinders Way, Griffith ACT 2603

Phone: (02) 6295 2627

Tosung Charcoal BBQ on Urbanspoon