Maestral- long time no see

It had been years since I had been to Maestral in Weston and a revisit was long overdue. When I stepped into the dining room, I had forgotten how tiny their space was, but it always filled with happy patrons and today was no different.

Platter potatoes, calamari, pan-fried fish, prawns and oysters to your liking ($36.00). Everything on the plate was finished. I loved the potatoes, the calamari was tender without being oily, the prawns were plump and the fish was cooked perfectly. Unfortunately, the Kilpatrick oysters weren’t as grilled as I would have liked but the oysters themselves were fat and meaty.Hand made pasta with chilli, capers and crab meat ($30.00). I loved the texture of the pasta and it was cooked perfectly. The sauce had lots of flavour and a nice dose of chilli kick; I would happily eat either of these dishes.Garden salad ($5.00). A simple light salad that was well dressed and stifled our guilty conscious of eating something green in our meal.The service was attentive and food came out in a timely manner. I must go back again soon, I really do miss seafood.

 

Maestral Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mr. Wong

I had culled a lot of my backlog drafts but this was one I was desperate to tell you about.
I had to been to Mr. Wong once before but without TimmyC which he constantly reminds me about, so when we had some free time between visiting family, we decided to go there for dinner. They don’t take bookings for less than 6 people for dinner, so we had no choice but to wing it. Knowing we had a public holiday on the Monday in Canberra, TimmyC and I figured ‘how busy could a restaurant be on a Sunday night, especially when there was only 3 of us?’, the answer is VERY. We arrived just before 7 pm and the next available table for 3 pax was just after 8:30 pm. We were there, TimmyC could almost taste the duck, so we put our name down on the list and took a stroll to get some cheesecake from Uncle Tetsu’s while we waited.
When we came back more eager than before, the table was still not available yet but they encouraged us to get a drink at the bar. Just after browsing the cocktail list, we were approached by the wait staff again and shown to a table downstairs. All my photos are pretty dark because of the poor lighting inside.

Coconut martini mocktail I didn’t get a photo of the description, all I remember is there was kiffir lime ($10.00). I’ve had a lot of mocktails in my time and most of them just end up tasting like a tropical fruit juice or a sweet fizzy soda, but I simply adored this. There was so much complexity in the flavours and it morphed as my tongue picked up different flavours, all this within a sip. I can’t wait to go back and go through the rest of the list.
Starters~
Dim sum platters steamed dim sum platter (8 pieces) a selection of today’s specialties ($32.00). The different dumplings were a combination of lobster, duck, scallops and the like. All of them were very delicate, perfect and oh so delicious. I would highly recommend ordering this despite the price tag.
Peking duck pancakes (half serve 8 pancakes $45.00). You cannot come to Mr. Wong and not order their duck. It is amazing. I love the duck pieces as it has a good skin to meat ratio, the meat is tender and the skin is impeccable.
Mains~
Prawns, scallops and calamari wok fried with ginger and spring onions ($36.00). To have prawns, scallops and calamari cooked perfectly until it was all tender was fantastic, I just wish there was more of a ‘sear’ to them from the wok.
Sweet and sticky pork ribs ($34.00). They did not lie, these ribs were sweet and sticky! Perhaps a little too sweet for my taste, but the meat was very tender.
Stir fried snow peas, sugar snap peas and broccoli with garlic and rice wine ($19.00). It was easy to get your fill of vegetables when they tasted this good.
King crab fried rice “typhoon shelter style” with garlic and chili (small $24.00). A fried rice is best eaten hot and that is what I told myself as I scoffed mouthfuls of rice like I had not eaten in days. The taste of crab was subtle but I really liked the oomph that the garlic and chili added.
Dessert~
Mango pudding with coconut tapioca, lychee granita and mango pearls ($16.00). TimmyC said he was starting to get full already after the starters but he then proceeded to eat the mains, by this stage, he was convinced he had enough and was so full that he could not order the deep fried ice cream that he had his eye on since we sat down. The waitress then came past to see if we wanted any dessert and just as TimmyC finished his ‘no dessert’ declaration to the table, he ordered the mango pudding almost in the same breath. There were no regrets. The mango pudding was silky smooth and we loved the flavour combination with the coconut and lychees.
I still dream about those mango pearls. Instead of just being flat one noted gelatinous balls, they actually burst in your mouth releasing sweet and juicy mango flavour, it reminded me of the dessert version of fish roe. Incredible!
Even though I was impressed by everything from the ambiance, to the efficient staff to the amazing food we had, I think I preferred our starters to the mains. It might have been our menu choices but those starters were seriously next level. I guess we will just have to come back and try more of the menu to know.

Venue: Mr. Wong

Address: 3 Bridge St, Sydney NSW 2000

Phone(02) 9240 3000

 

Mr. Wong Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lolo and Lola November pop up dinner series

It was pointed out that Lolo and Lola have only done four pop up dinners since their humble beginnings and it dawned on me that I had been to three of them. I would stop hogging but it is so good; I am not willing to give up my seat!You really need to get yourselves to one of these events if you’re lucky and fast enough, December is already sold out and the next one is in February (now that is sold out also!) . Each month has a different theme and November’s dinner focused on one of the main islands of the Philippines- Luzon.Lolo and Lola November pop up dinner ($65.00pp).

It was hard to choose a favourite from the menu (apparently not so hard for some, TimmyC loved the crepes), everything was so different but at the same time everything was so delicious.
This is more of a food porn post as I have not seen any of the dishes repeated in subsequent dinners.
Tinapay ensaymada bun served with liver spread.Check out how fluffy that bun is and how beautifully whipped that butter turned out.
Lumpiang sariwa savoury crepe of sauteed vegetables served with soy-caramel peanut sauce.
Kinilaw Filipino ceviche: melange of seafood in spiced calamansi dressing.
Half time drinks: the taste reminded me of banana lollies.
Habhab “Lucban” noodle dish with chicken, vegetables and spiced vinegar. We were encouraged to eat this with our fingers, needless to say it got messy really fast.
Bicol Express tender pork belly and butterflied prawn in chilli-coconut sauce.
Caldereta grilled beef sirloin and vegetables served with rich “caldereta” sauce.
Ice scramble streetside ice blended treat topped with powdered milk and chocolate sauce.
Sapin-sapin purple yam frozen parfait, jackfruit leche flan, pandan sponge, toasted coconut and coconut “latik” caramel sauce.
Jay and Kim have always been wonderful hosts and they take great pride in their cooking. It has been so amazing to be exposed to the delicious flavours from their origins.
Good luck trying to get into their next dinner. I might see you there.
😉

 

Tetsuya’s rerun

I had the best time with other foodies at the Food Lovers Trivia Night for Oz Harvest; it is such a wonderful cause and another bonus was when TimmyC surprised me by winning the silent auction that allowed us to have a degustation at Tetsuya’s with matching wines.

We quickly decided that we would go for my birthday and we booked several weeks in advance. I love where Tetsuya’s is located, it is a very unassuming building amongst all the hustle and bustle of the city.We were seated near the window on the ground floor to overlook their beautiful peaceful garden. They were very accommodating when we explained that we don’t drink wine (I know, I’m such a waste TheFoodMarshall) and they suggested we could get the tea pairing.Tetsuya’s set degustation menu ($230 per person normally)

Complimentary bread and whipped truffle butter.Pacific oysters with ginger and rice vinegar. I remember when I had my first dressed oyster from Tetsuya’s, it was incredible and the same overwhelming feeling came across me as I had it 5 years later. The dressing enhances the flavour but you can definitely still taste the natural oyster. What a wonderful way to start the meal.Tuna with kohlrabi. It was a perfectly dressed tuna that was so super fresh, I wanted more than the three pieces given to me.Warm octopus salad with fennel & shiso oil. A simple salad with remarkably soft tender octopus.Confit of Petuna ocean trout with a salad of celery, witlof, apple & unpasteurised ocean trout roe. This is Tetsuya’s signature dish, it is stunning visually and tastewise. I don’t want to describe it, I want you all go to and taste this for yourself. It has been on their menu for over twenty years and for a good reason!Grilled Shio Koji toothfish with fregola and roma tomatoes. I loved the texture of the toothfish as it reminded me a cross of mudcrab and scallops but without the sweetness.You could have easily mistaken it for scallop meat when you take a spoonful.Miso cured duck breast with pumpkin and cauliflower. This was well executed but I didn’t think it was anything special. It might sound pompous but I think it was because everything had been so great up until this point.Beef tenderloin with mushroom cream. I was hoping for a more flavoursome beef, it was very tender but I feel that the seafood items were much much better. Lychee granita with strawberries and coconut. A beautiful clean refreshing dessert with all my favourite fruits. I’m very tempted to make a variation of this at home for summer.Tetsuya’s Chocolate Cake. This had the most beautiful mirror finish but I had to move TimmyC away from the table because no matter what angle I moved my camera, I could see his reflection on the cake. I was so impressed with the neat presentation of such a delicate dessert. The chocolate glaze encased a beautiful soft not OTT chocolate mousse, a real delight to eat.All gone!Petits Fours vanilla macaron dusted with bee pollen and a mango filling along side a perfectly delicate toffee chocolate with a biscuit base. Both made really well but the chocolate blew us away with the flavours and intricate detail.The discs were so delicate, so much effort for a little petit four.Tea pairing~

It was amazing to have a tea pairing with our degustation, I’ve never had one before. The teas varied from hot and cold and also carbonated.  Each tea was chosen especially to compliment the food from darker teas for meat courses and the most sweet-smelling concoction served with dessert. I loved it all (although as a result of so much tea, I did go to the bathroom a lot) but my favourite might have been the cocoa with matcha as I’ve never had anything like it.

Buddha’s tears brewed with spice and orange peel.

Single estate organic sencha green from Kyoto stirred with lime.

Gently infused darjeeling with thyme, rosemary and basil served chilled with bubbles.

Yunnan red from one of China’s most ancient tea growing regions.

Orange pekoe brewed with red fruits and vanilla pod.

West African red cocoa with soy milk and macha.
The staff were very attentive and very knowledgeable which always adds to a good experience. Our 4 hour lunch just flew by with incredible food, drink and company.

See my first experience with terrible photos here.

Venue: Tetsuya’s

Address: 529 Kent Street, Sydney 2000

Phone(02) 9267 2900

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

Plaka re-run

Having dinner at Plaka in Dickson was purely impromptu. A friend lured me out as she needed to be on the other side of town and was saying we could have dinner first. I had just been in Dickson the night before eating at Pho Phu Quoc, so I was wondering what we should eat that night. ‘I haven’t been to Plaka since it opened’ (see my first post here) I thought to myself and it did not take that much convincing for my friend to come eat at the only Greek restaurant (for now) in Canberra.

My friend being as organised as she is, had already looked up the menu and decided what she had wanted but when we got there and she took a closer look at the menu, she went back to being undecided. There were so many things that we wanted to eat but there were only two of us. We decided to divide and conquer. We would share some entrees and share two mains, which would be seafood and Greek lamb (the two things you must try when you go to a Greek restaurant).

Traditional Green Pita bread unleavened pita bread grilled with olive tapenade ($6.00). This bread is spectacular! I don’t think it mattered what spread was on top. It had the perfect texture, it was served hot and the olive tapenade gave it the right amount of saltiness. Kolokithokeftedes zucchini, feta and fresh herb fritters, lightly fried, served with tzatziki (3 per serve $14.00). I found that these really lacked salt and flavour even though there were supposed to be feta in the mixture, which is a real shame considering how amazing the bread was. They were served hot but my friend had a suspicion that they were reheated rather than made fresh.BBQ seafood plate BBQ King prawns, salt and pepper calamari, oysters mornay and kilpatrick, grilled baby octopus and prawn cutlets ($35.00). I think the only down side was to try and eat everything as fast as I could to enjoy the meal while it was hot. I started off with the oysters, the mornay wasn’t that cheesy and I felt that the kilpatrick could have done with more sauce but the grilled baby octopus and calamari was delicious while it was hot.Lamb souvlaki plate two grilled lean lamb fillets skewers marinated in Greek herbs and spices served with chips, greek salad, tzatziki and Greek pita bread ($27.00). I tried the lamb while it was hot but I felt it was a little chewy and obviously the cooler it got, the tougher the meat became. The chips were really good and the salad balanced out all the meat and carbs. Even though I was very full towards the end, I couldn’t help but eat pieces of feta smeared on that awesome pita bread. I told the waitress to take the plate away before my friend would have to roll me out of the restaurant.A few things were a bit of a hit and miss but I did really enjoy parts of this meal, I hope they were just having an off night with their lamb. I love Greek food and I want to love this place but I feel that something was missing with the food. Having said that, the service was fantastic and food came out so fast, we were very impressed.

Noma Australia re-run

This title might seem a little odd as Noma Australia isn’t a place you usually get into once during their ten week pop up at Barangaroo, let alone twice (see my first post here).

I had said to TimmyC during my wedding speech that I didn’t know how he was going to top taking me to the Fat Duck when it was in Melbourne, but I hoped that he would try and here I am. I know I am a very lucky girl when there were supposedly 27,000 people on a wait list.

The menu was mainly unchanged since our last visit, although they had incorporated the avocado as another course into the degustation and there wasn’t any foraged blackberries this time. Overall, the consistency between visits was pretty high.

This time we went for lunch, I was hoping to get better photos with the natural light.

An overall glance at the entire 13 course degustation menu ($493 per person including credit card costs).Unripe macadamia and spanner crab the juice of a spanner crab, green macadamia nuts with rose oil.Wild seasonal berries flavoured with gubinge bowl of berries (lilli pilli, native lime etc) with seaweed oil dusted with kakadu native plum powder.Porridge of golden and desert oak wattleseed with saltbush wattle porridge topped with salt bush and finger lime.Seafood platter and crocodile fat starting from the bottom right hand corner pipi, blue mussel, strawberry clam, cockle and oyster all prepared with tomato juice and crocodile fat.

This time I remembered to take a photo!W.A. deep sea snow crab with cured egg yolk lightly steamed snow crab in a fermented kangaroo meat sauce (we are pretty sure that is what they said).PIE: dried scallops and nasturium flowers kelp tart with scallop fudge and a celery reduction served with foraged flowers.BBQed milk ‘dumpling’ with marron and magpie goose marron brushed with magpie goose ragout wrapped in a burnt milk skin.Mushroom paste and tomato dried with pepperberries semi dried tomatoes from the Blue Mountains with mushroom paste. This was the alternative dish to sea urchin.Truffle and avocado kelp, avocado and truffle.Abalone schnitzel and bush condiments finger lime, beach floral bouquet, succulent, kakadu native plum, Neptune’s necklace, glass beads, seaside fennel served with an abalone schnitzel and celery yeast water.It takes great skill to cook abalone well.The table was divided between choosing their favourite course between the snow crab, marron and the schnitzel; they were all still my favourite and I enjoyed them even more the second time around.

Marinated fresh fruit mango ice cream sandwich with green ants, compressed watermelon with black currant wood oil and pineapple sprayed in whisky and sprinkled with some salt.A close up of the mango gelato sandwich with green ants.Mirrabelle plum, lime and pepperberry twigs.Rum lamington lamington with milk crumb and native tamarind sauce.Peanut milk and freekah “Baytime”.Native lime.Noma have auctioned off their last dinner service (2nd April) in Australia, with profits going to OzHarvest and MAD. They have also given back to the community by allowing hospitality students an opportunity to dine at Noma free of charge, a tour of the kitchen and time to meet members of the Noma team. They also offered a vocational program for aspiring chefs and waiters as well as baking bread for the homeless.

I think it was fantastic having the Noma team in Australia, they have inspired chefs, they have pushed boundaries and showed off Australia’s unique native ingredients.

 

Progressive walking dinner – Kingston foreshore

It is always wonderful to meet up with like minded people, so when fellow foodies and I met for dinner at Kingston foreshore and we weren’t sure what to eat, we strategically planned for a progressive walking dinner to get the most of our meal.

To start we made good use of C dine‘s ‘Buck a Shuck’ Friday’s in summer and we had a dozen oysters each for our entree.Venue:C dine bar

Address:17/19 East Lake Parade, Kingston Foreshore, Canberra

Phone: (02) 6239 5299
C Dine Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


7 by the Lake has only opened recently so we were excited to check it out. As we walked in, I was confused by the decor, it was supposed to be an Indian restaurant but it had African-eqsue statues around the room.

We ordered three curries: Goanese prawns ($29.90), murgh makhani (aka butter chicken $23.90) and palak paneer ($23.90). I really enjoyed their butter chicken, it isn’t your typical creamy and sweet version. I felt that the prawns and the paneer tasted slightly watery and didn’t absorb the flavours of the curry, maybe because it was added in later from a stock sauce.

 

We also ordered a serve of masala kulcha fermented plain flour bread stuffed with a mix of spiced potatoes and herbs, sprinkled with onion seeds, chopped coriander and mint, cooked in a tandoor ($5.00). It smelt divine and I would easily just eat this with butter chicken and be happy.
Our waitress did three odd things while we were there 1) she didn’t really know the name of the dish when she put down our palak paneer, she just stated it was our ‘cheese dish’ 2) she interrupted our conversation when she over heard us wanting to have dessert somewhere else 3) she opened the bill folder counted the money at the table, every last cent of it.

 

I found the prices of the curries a little steep but to be fair, everything along the Kingston foreshore seems to be over priced. I really enjoyed the bread and the chicken curry but I feel that isn’t enough to have me running back for more any time soon.

 

Venue: 7 by the lake (contemporary Indian cuisine)

Address: 143/41 East Lake Parade, Kingston Foreshore, Canberra

Phone(02) 6140 7040

Websitewww.sevenbythelake.com/
7 by the lake Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


To not be disappointed any more, we opted dessert an an old favourite, Morks. I had eaten their other desserts recently so I chose the Pikachu *I choose you* mango gelato ($3.00) for dessert with a side of BBQ pork bun ($8.00). It may not be conventional but I think a BBQ pork bun and mango gelato from @morksrestaurant was a wonderful way to end the nights meal. Venue: Morks

Address: 18-19 East Lake Parade, Kingston Foreshore, Canberra

Phone(02) 6295 0112
Morks Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Temporada re-run

With so many new restaurants coming out and so many good existing ones, I rarely would go out of my way to go back to a place where I found it mediocre but I’m always up for second chances. I didn’t love Temporada like everyone else did when it first opened but it has been a few years so maybe things have changed. TimmyC was keen to go back because we had such fond memories of their beef rib sliders.

We were seated at the bar which meant lots of table space but the seats were uncomfortable and towards the end of the meal, TimmyC and I ended up standing up while finishing our meal. 

 

To start~
House-made sourdough and cultured butter ($2.50).Their bread was delicious but the butter was definitely the best part. Order this when you sit down, then it will be perfectly timed to arrive when you have just finished ordering the rest of the meal.
Wood grilled pippies, saffron and chorizo ($20.00). I found the sauce to be most addictive to eat and I resorted to dipping my bread in it to get every last drop. Unfortunately the sauce and really salty chorizo probably drowned out the natural taste of the pippies.
BBQ King prawn, bourride ($9.00 each). TimmyC’s prawn came out of its shell rather easy but I found mine was stuck to the shell which made it really difficult to eat. I got a lot of ‘burnt’ taste in my mouth from the charred legs as I resorted to pulling the prawn meat off with my teeth. The prawn meat itself was sort of sweet but I didn’t enjoy this dish.
Zucchini flower, spanner crab, lemon ($9.00 each). These don’t look like much but they came out piping hot without being oily and they were delicious. Definitely my top pick of the smalls plates that we tried.
Filled with crabby goodness.
Wood grilled dry aged 500g T-bone, smoked potato, pink peppercorn, leeks ($45.00). TimmyC always jokes that T-bones are a ‘private steak’ for me because I like to pick up the bone and get every last bit of meat, but this was served pre-cut which meant for easy eating and sharing. The steak itself wasn’t anything special and I was hoping for more butter and smooth texture from the potato.
The steak wasn’t amazing but it was cooked perfectly.
We still weren’t overly impressed with the food but more importantly our bums were super sore from the seats, so we decided to pay the bill and head somewhere else for dessert. My friend who was also there having dinner that night was coincidentally sitting at the bar next to us, eventually she got a sore bum too but her party of two really enjoyed their duck main and would happily come back again. I guess it depends on experiences and the food that you order, but I won’t be in a hurry to come back again, maybe if they get beef ribs sliders back on the menu.
We sat near the kitchen entrance so it was easy to flag down staff when we wanted a water refill etc, the food wait time was very minimal and it was fairly busy by the time we had left.
See my previous post about Temporada here.

Temporada Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Stunned Mullet re-run

I was going to just let this restaurant visit slide but as soon as the amazing warmed bread arrived, I instinctively started taking photos. We had taken TimmyC’s Grandma with us to the Stunned Mullet two years ago and she was very keen to go back, was it was going to be as good as we remembered?IMG_8257.JPGSourdough with Roast Chilli and Pecorino Little Gen EVOO 8 ($8.50). It is very expensive for bread and oil but it is warmed perfectly, the crust is crunchy and the bread itself is so soft and fluffy. Yes TimmyC’s Grandma couldn’t wait and grabbed the first slice before I took a photo.IMG_8243.JPGGlacier 51 Toothfish soy and mirin stock, Asian salad, galangal, smoked shallot chilli ginger reduction ($48.00). I had my heart set on the Cape Grim beef but when the waiter was describing the toothfish, I was easily swayed. His logic is that there is always beef on a menu but you would rarely get a chance to eat toothfish.

The flesh of the fish was unlike any fish I’ve had before, the texture was a cross between a scallop and the meaty pincer of a mud crab. The meat itself wasn’t sweet like a mudcrab but you got hints of sweetness from the mirin in the sauce. I had no regrets ordering this dish.IMG_8251.JPGPhotos of my dish from every angle.IMG_8252.JPGIMG_8253.JPGPork Belly and Seared Scallops nuoc cham and Asian salad ($38.00). TimmyC had his eyes set on the pork and scallops and asked for this to be served as a main, I thought the main price was steep for not many pieces of pork and scallops, I’m just glad that they executed this dish perfectly. The pork crackling was crispy and fatty and the pork was well cooked while still remaining moist. The scallops were fantastic! They were easily the best scallops I’ve had in a restaurant recently; the sear was really good and the meat was naturally sweet. TimmyC wasn’t particularly a big fan of the bold Asian flavours in the sauce but we just tilted the plate so he would get less of it.IMG_8250.JPGLamb Shoulder parsnip puree, red chutney, labne, watercress, compressed apple, papadum ($25.00). Grandma ordered a smaller sized dish but wow, the flavours were so complex and there were so many textures to the plate. I am now a big fan of labna! The lamb meat was super tender and had so many spices in it which gave it a middle Eastern feel.IMG_8245.JPG

IMG_8247.JPGSides~

Mizuna lettuce salad with hazelnuts, pear, pecorino and verjuice ($11.00). I loved the delicate pecorino cheese which was mounded on top. The greens were partly light and well washed and I adored the combination of pear and hazelnuts.IMG_8246.JPGDesserts~ all desserts were $18.00.

Chocolate Hazelnut textures, white chocolate cremeux, praline semifreddo, strawberries, chocolate brownie, vanilla mascarpone cream. I thought there was too much going on with this dessert which was much to TimmyC’s delight as he devoured the rest. He has a bigger sweet tooth than me so he probably didn’t think that this dish was too rich.IMG_8259.JPGVanilla Bean Macarons, poached pear, cinnamon crumble, gorgonzola gelato, cider gel. I really liked their size of macarons, they were big but very delicate with a subtle vanilla bean filling. I knew instantly TimmyC would dislike the gorgonzola gelato but I thought it paired perfectly with the poached pears. The two blobs of gel looked deceivingly black but that was because of the slate plating, it was actually in fact like a very smooth apple sauce.IMG_8264.JPG

IMG_8266.JPGThe staff is always attentive and polite here and the food is magnificent. Even if you just bypass through Port Macquarie, I definitely recommend that you plan your trip around having a meal here.

Yummy Chinese BBQ

So I found this sitting in my drafts folder and I can’t believe I’ve waited so long to finish this post, here it is!

I love it when friends find new places to eat, I just get to go along for the ride with very few details about the food. The new place we were headed to this time was called Yummy Chinese BBQ, based on the name I assumed we were going somewhere where ducks and bbq pork hung from the windows.
My friend sent me a message before we met to wear something that I wouldn’t mind smelling like BBQ smoke, luckily he did because I had a whole new outfit picked out, now I was going to wear any ol’ thing.

It is an ‘all you can eat’ situation with ‘cook it yourself’ elements from the BBQ and hotpot whilst also being able to choose some pre-made hot food from the buffet ($35.00 pp with a two-hour time limit).

The Uni Lodge Precinct is forever growing and is catering towards the increasing Asian student population in the area. IMG_5474.JPGIMG_5475.JPGAfter snapping photos of the surrounding area, I met my friends at the table and a look of confusion took over my face, if it’s a charcoal BBQ place, why is there a hot pot? I was further confused when I was also told there was an all you could eat buffet inside. With so much variety, where do I start?

Well the coals weren’t in the BBQ yet so that could take the back burner. My Asian friend was in charge of the tablet where you could order drinks and skewered meats for the BBQ, so I left her to deal with that as I went to venture inside to check out what was happening. At first, I didn’t know if I liked the thought of sitting outside until I went inside… Although there were exhaust fans above each grill, the feeling of smoke was irritating to the eyes.

 No coals yet, time to go to plan B.IMG_5478.JPGPlan B requires food input from the food buffet inside. Okay! Inside we go!

Broths are continually refilled by the wait staff and there is one hot pot between two people. It does take up valuable table real estate though because there isn’t much space left after a BBQ is fitted into the table.IMG_5480.JPG I’ve never seen portable hot pots like this and I thought the pattern was gorgeous!IMG_5476.JPGThe tablet luckily had some English translation or I’d be very lost. IMG_5479.JPGInside there is a cold open fridge with unlabeled marinated meats for the BBQ, an assortment of Asian salads, a limited range of sweets and fruit, a buffet of noodles, luncheon meat, greens for the hot pot and the last three trays were filled with hot ready to eat food (fish, pippies and crab).

The unidentified meat fridge is constantly being restocked. I particularly liked the chicken wings and garlic bread on the BBQ.IMG_5483.JPGA weird combination of sauce/condiments and dessert area. Not too many to choose from, just some sesame balls and fruit (not refilled yet).IMG_5484.JPGA variety of salads that I didn’t try at all, I was too busy om nom noming other things.IMG_5482.JPGNext up: an assortment of luncheon meat, vegetables and noodles for the hot pot as well as some pre-made hot food.IMG_5485.JPGI went to town on the pippies, the crab looked like it was too much effort for little return. IMG_5491.JPGI grabbed a few things for our hot pots.IMG_5503.JPGIMG_5504.JPGIMG_5500.JPGThe coals finally arrive!IMG_5497.JPGIt’s time to BBQ!IMG_5498.JPGThe BBQs are fitted with genius moving racks that have slots to connect with your skewer and constantly rotate them for even cooking.IMG_5501.JPGIt’s all starting to happen on the table, BBQ, hot pot and om nom noms. IMG_5502.JPGIt is a good way to dine as it provides some instant food as well as a fun way to eat with friends, it also allows everyone to eat what they like while still sharing an experience together.IMG_5510.JPGI must admit it was a fun way to dine with friends once you figure out all the food options and what was happening. There is a combination of ready to eat foods as well as novelty ‘cook it yourself’ options and once all the food starts cooking, you could be eating for a non stop 2 hour duration.

Unfortunate traits are: figuring out what all the unlabeled meats were (I’m pretty sure I ate tongue somewhere), some of the meats were too fatty and not worth cooking, going to trek for the toilets which were deceivingly far away and getting the smell of BBQ smoke from your hair and clothes.

Venue: Yummy Chinese BBQ

Address1 Childers St Canberra, ACT

Phone: 02 6248 9154

Opening hours:

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Yummy Chinese BBQ on Urbanspoon

Seasalt dining

I had first heard of Seasalt dining when was first added to the Entertainment book (2013/2014) and I was super excited because it was supposed to specialise in steak and seafood-  these are a few of my favourite things .

Since then, I had been to Seasalt dining once before and I thought that maybe because I chose a pasta was why I was disappointed. I was told by other people that the seafood platter was good, so I remained optimistic and took a friend out to Bruce to try Seasalt dining’s seafood platter for two.

Garlic bread ($4.20) not included in the platter.

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Seasalt Seafood platter for two Chef’s selection of grilled fish, Thai fish cakes, Cajun calamari, Kilpatrick oysters, seared scallops and prawns served with salad and chips ($59.80).

Kilpatrick oysters – the oyster’s natural flavours were overwhelmed by the Worcestershire sauce and I think it would have been better if they were left under the grill a little longer.

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They chips were served hot and one of the best things of the night and that can’t be good.

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Seared scallops and Cajun calamari– The scallops were rather nice with a good sear served with a bit of sweet jam (?) but too bad that they were served barely luke warm, actually nothing was particularly hot. How long was the food sitting around before it was served to us when there was next to no one in the restaurant? The Cajun calamari was one of the most disgusting calamari that I’ve ever eaten, the batter had a weird taste to it and the texture itself was chewy and hard to bite.

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Grilled fish – I was surprised that there was only one fillet to share between two people. The fish wasn’t too bad, just barely seasoned but very light and not oily.

Thai fish cakes – the most blandest, pale ‘supposed Thai fish cakes’ that I’ve ever eaten.

Prawns – drenched in overwhelming garlic creamy sauce.

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Home-made sticky date pudding with vanilla ice cream ($11.80). The best thing of the night, a warm well made pudding with a very rich butterscotch sauce. I’m glad that the night ended on a good note.

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Despite the service’s attentive friendly nature, the food was sub par and some parts were completely inedible. I’ve been here twice to try a variety of things and I would not come back or recommend this restaurant.

Venue: Seasalt Dining

Address: 85/15 Braybrooke St Bruce ACT 2617

Phone: (02) 6162 1617

Entertainment book: Yes, it’s in the book!

Seasalt Dining on Urbanspoon

C dine Bar

Despite my best efforts to keep on top of things, readers giving me heads up about new restaurants and what to try next, I still get pleasantly surprised when a restaurant pops up in a place that I didn’t even know existed. C dine Bar is located in the new Kingston area near Travillian Quay, right next to where Morks will be relocated to.

I quickly browsed the menu before I rang to book a table. Steak check image, seafood check image, great sounding pastas check image and oooh they have croquettes too! Bonus! image

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Complimentary warm linseed bread with garlic compound butter. The butter was sadly too cold and it took a bit of mashing before it (sort of) spread over my bread. Nice bread though.

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Entrees~

Pork cheek croquette pork croquette, wild mushroom, peas and garlic cream ($18.00). I expected at least two croquettes of this size for $18.00 but at least the one we got was very tasty. I could have smothered that sauce over anything, it was sooo good.

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Chowder bacon, clams, salmon, mussels, potato and cream ($16.00). I did appreciate the variety of seafood and the uniformly cut pieces of potato that didn’t disintegrate into the chowder making it all gritty and starchy but I wish that the ‘soup’ itself was a little thicker and fuller.

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Scallops green pea and bacon risotto, pecorino, carrot foam ($18.00)First of all, you could have taken the carrot foam away and you wouldn’t have noticed, it added zero experience to the taste and texture. The scallops were big and juicy with a good sear on either side, it made me realise I haven’t had a good scallop in a while.

I’m the first to say that I would push my partner over for some cheese but this risotto had A LOT of cheese. Sadly, everything below the scallops just reminded me of a cheesy version of a basic fried rice that you would get from the local Chinese take away.

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Mains~

Crab ravioli blue swimmer crab ravioli, crispy caper flowers, house preserved lemon and butter ($28.00). Now this sounded like an A+ dish and I was very close to choosing it as my main but thankfully my friend chose it so I was still able to eat a steak. I thought the pasta was a bit too thick which was very evident around the edges of the parcels when you bit into it. It could have done with a bit more ‘sauce’ as well as the whole thing felt a bit dry.

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Not stingey on the filling.

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Pork ribs smoked pork ribs, house made Bourbon BBQ sauce, lime wedges, side of your choice ($34.00). I didn’t expect that a fancy place like this would have a ‘hands on’ dish like ribs, but they do and they were deeelicious! I would have expected more for $34.00 but TimmyC couldn’t finish them so I had to step in. Oh the things I must do for him. image

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Comes with a classy plastic bib.

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C and Land 300g dry aged bone in sirloin, yabbie (they only had prawns that night) dipping salts, red wine jus, béarnaise, side of your choice ($38.00). After knowing that at least someone on the table was going to choose the crab ravioli, I had one last decision to make. C and Land? Or the seafood pie which was on the specials board? I felt like steak but didn’t want to be disappointed like so many times before when I order steak at a restaurant.

The steaks are aged in house and it is served with red wine jus AND béarnaise  well I was able to take a chance on that but just in case it comes to me still moo-ing on my plate, I ordered it medium (rather than my usual medium rare) just to be on the safe side. 

A great steak and I haven’t had one of those in a long time out in a restaurant. They cooked it well so I probably could have ordered medium rare. I wanted to pick up the bone and gnaw on it, but I decided against that and picked up one of TimmyC’s pork ribs instead.

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Sides~

Truffle polenta chips ($8.00). By far the best side dish. Crispy and tasty, you definitely have to try this (also good for a ‘mop’ of all those sauces).

Zucchini, bacon and parmesan ($8.00). What I expected was zucchini cooked al dente with bacon sparsely sprinkled between pieces then topped with some parmesan cheese. What got was slightly overcooked zucchini with oily bacon stuck in melted parmesan clumps. image

Lobster poutine bisque, lobster meat, melted cheese ($12.00). I couldn’t detect the bisque and I think we found one bit of lobster meat. It was not at all what I expected and very disappointing. This side does not come ‘free’ with the mains and will incur an additional fee but I don’t think it is worth it.

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Dessert~

White chocolate parfait white chocolate parfait, 30 second vanilla cake, verjuice puree, pistachio crumb ($16.00). It sounded good in theory, so good that two of us chose this dessert. You could at least taste the white chocolate in the parfait but I couldn’t understand why the verjuice puree had to be there. The vanilla cake that was torn into pieces and scattered around the plate could have done with some  custard or a caramel to give it a bit of extra something.

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Warm hazelnut cake hazelnut cake, chai ice-cream, quince puree, moscato gelee ($16.00). I didn’t expect the cake to be a hazelnut sponge and I didn’t exactly love it as it was a little dry as well as underwhelming. Melting some of the chai ice-cream on top helped it a bit but the best part of the dessert was the moscato gelee and that can’t be good.

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Despite the critique I have over small elements of some dishes and the desserts, I had an overall pleasant dining experience and for some reason am very keen to come back. The whole menu screams things that I would like; I just hope that they execute them better than some of the dishes that we ate here tonight.

Venue: C Dine Bar

Address17/19 Eastlake Parade, Kingston, ACT 2604

Phone: (02) 6239 5299

Websitehttp://cdinebar.com.au/

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