Jamie’s Italian re-run

Nothing annoys me more than wasting a voucher, not a discount voucher but a prepaid voucher card with an expiry date. Luckily for us Jamie’s Italian gift vouchers don’t have an expiry but we were using up a Dendy voucher before it expired so we thought we’d continue on downstairs with our voucher run.

For once we were able to get a seat inside and considering it was 38 degrees outside, it was a happy change of scenery. The menu looked like it had changed since I had last been (I didn’t blog the last three visits), but TimmyC just made sure that they still had his good ol’ favourite tagliatelle pasta and he was set.

Can you spot your favourites in the new menu layout?IMG_7187.JPGCrispy prawns wrapped in angel hair pasta with tomato, basil and chilli sauce ($14.50). I chose this as a last-minute impulse even though I agreed with TimmyC that all we needed was one entree and two main sized pastas because we weren’t that hungry after popcorn consumption and it was so hot outside. I should have stuck with that decision as I felt that this dish was disappointing. Sure the pasta gave the prawns a crunch but the prawns weren’t particular big or sweet. Don’t be put off by the black squid ink looking sauce, it was a really creamy mayo and was the only saving grace of the dish.IMG_7196.JPGBaked mushroom swiss browns with crispy music bread and smoked buffalo mozzarella ($15.50). This is one of TimmyC’s favourite entrees but we both had split opinions that day; I thought it was better than usual and TimmyC didn’t really enjoy it. I really like mild flavours of the mushrooms and mozzarella against the crispy textures of the bread.IMG_7200.JPGTagliatelle bolognese ragu of beef, pork, herbs, Chianti and parmesan with crunchy herby breadcrumbs ($19.50). This is our ‘go to’ dish when we go to Jamie’s Italian, it isn’t because it is the best bolognese we’ve had but it’s one of the better things that we have tried and I really enjoy the crunchy herby breadcrumbs.IMG_7202.JPGI think TimmyC enjoys this more than me, as a personal preference I enjoy my bolognese with more meat.IMG_7203.JPGPolpetta spaghetti beef and pork meatballs, tomatoes, garlic and red wine ($18.00). Why oh why do I stray from the usual, I guess the food blogger inside of me wishes to make a new found discovery of something else that is delicious on the menu but I really didn’t enjoy this. As soon as I put a bite in my mouth, I knew the pasta was too under cooked for me, it was even a tad before al dente. The meatballs were a tad dry and bland but I enjoyed how they gave me a big spoonful of the herby crunchy stuff. I was too hot and bothered to complain and I didn’t finish my plate (which usually never happens).IMG_7205.JPGIt looked so promising before I had a taste.IMG_7207.JPGA dissection of the beef and pork meatball.IMG_7210.JPGI’m surprised that Jamie’s Italian is open during this window period but maybe it is to cash in on the holidays when most things won’t be open. I remember the days where you just eat yourself silly and spend time with friends and family  at home because nothing was open but now boxing day sales start early and even the cinemas are open!IMG_7191.JPGI find it puzzling about where this place goes wrong; the menu looks good, the staff are friendly and attentive, I guess it is mainly the execution of the food. The weird thing is that it isn’t the worst Italian I’ve ever eaten, would I have been this critical if Jamie Oliver’s name wasn’t attached to the restaurant? I guess that’s the problem with trusting another chef with your name branded over a restaurant, it is situations like this that have stopped famous chefs like Adrianno Zumbo from opening a store in Canberra, they need someone who they can trust to consistently create a product of high calibre that they would be happily be associated with.

Les bistronomes re-run (yes already)

You know it wasn’t that long since your last visit when all the wait staff recognise you. I knew we should have worn fake moustaches and spoken in a Spanish accent! Truth be told, we couldn’t wait any longer to go back to Les Bistronomes (see my previous post here), when you promise your stomach something, it won’t forget until you’ve satisfied the craving.

We were back to try their beef wellington and crème brûlée that we weren’t able to order last time. When I rang to book the table, the manager said he was completely booked out and he could only give me seating outside. My mind casted my memory back to when I peered at the patrons who sat outside last time, they were barely lit in the dim moon light and with no heating. I was desperate… I really wanted that wellington so I reluctantly said yes. The manager mentioned he was going to put fairy lights outside so it wouldn’t look so dark and dreary but he advised to bring a jacket to keep warm. I stressed to him that we really wanted a beef wellington

When we were shown to our seats, my eyes widen and I didn’t question it when we were shown to a table inside. It turns out that the electrician didn’t finish the job so the fairy lights stayed in their box. Deciding that he didn’t want anyone to sit outside until it was modified, the manager arranged for our table to be inside. How very nice of him.

Complimentary cute smoked tomato butter, I just wished that the bread was warmed.IMG_6031.JPGSoft Diabolo (strawberry $6.00). Ooops, I forgot to take a photo, it was served in a really cute mason jar with a handle. I was expecting something crazy sweet when the waitress said that this was a lemonade mixed with a strawberry syrup from France, but instead got something that tasted like soda water with a hint of strawberry flavour, when the waitress asked me if it was really sweet I knew something was wrong. The manager took my drink away and replaced it with a new one, the tap had run out of syrup and the new one was sweet alright, it reminded me of raspberry lemonade. Much better!

Entrees ($17.00)~

Escargot Et Fillet De Porc En Persillade garlic snails and pork loin with parsley cream. This isn’t the first time I’ve had snails so there was no hesitation on eating these but if you’ve never tried them before, the taste and texture remind me of a beef tortellini. The garlic puree is strong and has it definitely pierces the tongue. It went well with the parsley puree and snails. The pork loin is rolled in a leek ask giving it it’s interesting colour, the meat itself was really moist.IMG_6048.JPG

Salade Nicoise Nicoise salad: tuna, potato, french beans, olive, capsicum, egg. A little hard to share this dish but I got one of everything. I found this dish really disconnected, it seemed like I was eating separate ingredients and nothing really brought it together.IMG_6042.JPGGorgeous colour and presentation, it was just a salad that wasn’t for me.IMG_6041.JPGPlat Pour Deux/Mains for two served with one side dish of your choice($88.00)~ We chose Frites as our side.

Filet De Boeuf En Croute Au Foie Gras Et Duxelle De Champignon Beef Wellington, mushroom Duxelle, foie gras and red wine jus “Pre-order only”. It’s not French but I don’t care. This gorgeous golden brown parcel was brought to the table, photographed to death before being whisked away and cut into three pieces (usually shared between two people they were nice enough to cut it into thirds for us). My friends offered me the centre slice as I am a very big meat eater which meant I got less pastry but I didn’t mind. I tried the pastry which was golden, buttery and flakey. Next I tried the beef which was ridiculously moist and tender. I wanted to try elements of the dish before I poured over the gravy but oh my!! It was tasty before but with the red wine jus, it was perfection. We loved it so much that we asked for more to lather it onto our portions as well as dip our chips into it. I’m not usually a fan of foie gras but I couldn’t even tell it was in there with all the buttery, meaty goodness. My mouth is watering as I write this.IMG_6051.JPG

IMG_6052.JPGSorry, I got a bit carried away with the photography.IMG_6055.JPG

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IMG_6060.JPGOf course the light was fading when we were served the star of the meal, so my lovely friends helped with their phone flashlight.IMG_6062.JPG

IMG_6065.JPGGarnitures (side dishes $9.00)~ we chose the same sides as before

Petit Pois A La Francaise (French peas). The sweetness of the onions and the saltiness of the chunky bacon bits really compliment each other well.IMG_6056.JPGDesserts ($14.00)~

Crème brûlée A La Vanille vanilla crème brûlée. It is a big call but this is one of the best crème brûlées I’ve ever had even though it doesn’t the essential toffee hat that I like to crack with my spoon. After all the dramatic flames subsided, we all took a spoonful. Utterly flawless with its varying contrasting textures between the chunky sugar crystals and the absolutely smooth crème brûlée. It wasn’t overly sweet or eggy, it was just – perfect…

Our dessert up in flames!IMG_6068.JPGGoing…IMG_6069.JPGGoing…IMG_6070.JPGAlmost going…IMG_6071.JPGGone!IMG_6073.JPGA perfect mouthful of dessert.IMG_6082.JPGCharlotte A La Fraise and Surea strawberry and elder flower Charlotte. I really liked the combination of finely diced cucumber with strawberries, it has a really nice cooling effect. The flavours of this dessert are really light and refreshing. I love the variation of textures on this plate.IMG_6074.JPG

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IMG_6078.JPGWe got talking with the owner Abel Bariller, formerly the sommelier for Sage restaurant, he was very charming and informative. After the first few weeks of opening, he said he has learnt a lot about running a business and it is a lot busier than he envisaged as he didn’t know the Braddon area well, he also added that they are always learning and adjusting things as they are brought to their attention, which is nice. I hope they are here to stay because I cannot wait to taste their Winter menu.

From my first visit, I wasn’t quite convinced that this was a spectacular restaurant with food that was worth returning for as the menu is quite limited but after tonight’s dinner I’m looking for people to go with to make another return trip even if it is just for brunch.

 

Kusina banquet

Organising a ‘kids dinner’ where we were all food enthusiasts was challenging when we are all so busy, live in different areas and we wanted to go somewhere we haven’t been before. I had narrowed it down to a few options but Kusina won because a) I promised I’d go with Dan the first time that I went (the second time is close enough right?) b) it is an interesting cuisine c) it has an easy location to find parking and get to for all of us.

When I called to book they insisted we pre-ordered a banquet due to the size of the group and to give the kitchen a heads up. Considering we had to choose one banquet that pleased everyone before meeting up in less than 48hrs proved to be difficult, thank goodness for email/sms/smartphones these days where everyone was able to get back to me ASAP.

Sharing menu two $38.00 per person (good for 8 people and above). They gave us two of every dish and one of every entrée to try between the 10 of us which was nice and meant that we really got to try everything that they had to offer.

Entrees~

Pritong Manok crispy chicken wings, banana ketchup mayonnaise. I’ve had these before, they sounds better than they taste because it’s just a chicken wing with not so special dipping sauce.

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Garlic rice/steamed rice- I couldn’t tell this had any garlic in it at all which is a shame because it is one of the few reasons why I chose this banquet. Yes, rice is a big factor to me.

Lumpiang Sariwa fresh spring roll, crepe wrapper, stir fried vegetables. A simple vegetable stir fry to break up the loads of meat yet to come but the crepe wrapper tore easily and made it hard to eat.

Inihaw na baboy/manok pork or chicken skewers, garlic, chilli, palm vinegar.Lovely marinated meat.

Mango milkshake (not included in the banquet). Tasted like a very smooth blended mango lassi.

Bulalo beef broth, osso bucco, bok choy, spring onion – I didn’t realise that this was an entrée because it came out very late in the meal. Being an Asian I enjoy a consume soup with lots of ingredients but the actual broth itself was so salty and almost unbearable. The osso bucco was very tender and if you drained it away from the soup it was rather pleasant to eat.

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Mains~

Pansit Canton egg noodles, pork and vegetables – A favourite with the table as it had lots of crispy pork, which had fatty layer that would get stuck in your teeth. It didn’t have many noodles though.

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Adobong Manok marinated chicken, vinegar, soy, quail eggs. This had a salty marinade with tender succulent chicken but I’m not the biggest fan of quail eggs though.

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Inihaw na Baka beef sirloin, caramelised onions, lemon – I thought I would enjoy this as I love sirloin but the sauce that was on it was crazily vinegary and I could only eat a small piece with a LOT of rice. Suffice to say that I didn’t go back for seconds.

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Bicol Express braised pork, spicy coconut cream – A wonderful semi spicy fragrant curry with tender pork. Definitely one of my favourite dishes of the night.

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Ginisang Gulay stir fried cabbage, cauliflower, snow peas, red peppers – a simple refreshing break away from all the meat dishes. 

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And just when I thought that no more food could come out… 

Cameron Rebusado fried shrimp with garlic chilli sauce – I didn’t think it was particularly special and it could have been slightly more crisp.

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Inihaw na Isda baby snapper, spicy mango salsa – Ok, confession time. I didn’t fully read the banquet menu before I ordered, after seeing garlic rice, sirloin and pork I was convinced, so I was slightly surprised that a) more food came out and b) that they would serve a whole fish. The salsa was delicious and had a bit of a kick with what seemed like fresh mango (where did they get mango from during this time of year?). The fish itself was rather dry and very boney (where are the adult Asians when you need them?), this was one of the least touched dishes but I don’t know if that because we were all so full or because most people wouldn’t know how to eat fish with bones.

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Dessert~

Leche flan creme caramel, lemon ice cream. No individual serves (three flans between 5 people), but after all that food it was probably for the best. A not overly sweet creme caramel that tasted like it was made from evaporated milk (which I love), contrasted to the refreshing cool lemon sorbet.

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I was astounded by the pace of the meal, not long after nibbling on the chicken wings, the skewers came out, then the vegetarian pancakes, before I even finished the entrees the mains came rolling out- pork, beef, chicken, noodles, soup and just when you didn’t think any more food come out, then came the vegetables, prawns and a whole fish. Not a banquet for the faint hearted, it had stacks of food with a nice variety to please all palettes, obviously people will like some dishes more than others.