Koi Dessert Bar

This was the last stop of the day during our epic progressive foodie tour across Sydney CBD. We had booked Koi Dessert bar several weeks beforehand and we tried to keep enough stomach space to enjoy their famous delightful desserts.Complimentary bread and butter~

Set dinner ($77.oo pp)

first course

Eggplant

steamed eggplant, trout roe, eschalots and smoked eggplant broth

This arrived so quickly and the portion was so small, I had initially mistaken it for an amuse bouche. I loved the clean presentation but I found the broth’s harsh eggplant burnt taste too much like baba ganoush, which I’m not really a fan of.

second course

Quack

duck breast, micro green, cherries and cherry reduction

I loved how they cut the cherries in tiny little precise wedges; they made for gorgeous adorning presentation and provided just that little bit of sweetness to the duck. There was a good meat to fat to skin ratio, it was just a shame that it was all over in a matter of a few bites.

third course

Angus

Angus beef with wagyu bresaola, burnt onion and mushroom puree (cooked medium rare)

After my first bite, I thought I really enjoyed this course until I realised what I really like was the mushroom puree. We were all a bit disappointed as the duck course had set the bar high and the beef was hard to cut and a little chewy.

fourth course

Vanilla Cherry

vanilla mousse, frozen raspberry, blackberry gel, cherry slices and long pepper

Oh wow, I loved the way they presented the cherries. The mousse was super delicate and carried well to sweeten the flavours from all the fruit. Despite the presence of long pepper, there was only a subtle amount of heat. This was delicious.

fifth course

Typical chocolate

summer berries, chocolate, citrus and caramel. We were advised to start with berries and ending with caramel

It was no surprise that chocolate paired well with berries but I made a disgusted face when I bit into the burnt citrus; it was a very harsh flavour and I did not enjoy it. The caramel was a beautiful way to finish off the dessert though, I could just sit and eat that all day.

optional sixth course ($20.00) 

We were all super full from the day’s events but we weren’t one to miss out on a course even if it was optional. It was nice that they let us order one to share between the four of us.

Moss

pistachio mousse, caramel gel, white chocolate matcha dulce cremeux, pistachio sponge, matcha moss, apple blossom jelly, nitro lime and yoghurt and green apple

Many different components to this dish and I can’t say that I could taste them all even though I was careful to get a bit of everything on my spoon. The strong flavours to me came from the nitro lime, yoghurt, white chocolate and apple. I liked how the sour and sweet notes were subsided with the yoghurt and white chocolate.

seventh course

Cheesecake

lime cheesecake mousse, brown butter and shiso.

I loved who they made a well out of the cream cheese in this deconstructed cheesecake, I might use that idea if I ever try to recreate something similar. Like all of the previous desserts, this was not a heavy dessert that was OTT; they really understand the balance of flavours and textures.We felt a little up and down about the mains but when the desserts came out, it felt like I was eating at another restaurant. It was seriously next level! And although we had eaten four desserts, I never did feel like something was too sweet or heavy that I couldn’t finish it. I will definitely have to bring TimmyC with me next time I come.

Venue: Koi Dessert Bar

Address: 46 Kensington St, Chippendale NSW 2008

Phone(02) 9212 1230

KOI Dessert Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

I was making fun of TimmyC that we were going to somewhere called ‘Dinner by Heston Blumenthal’ for lunch despite having booked months ahead. It wasn’t until I read the definition of the ‘dinner’ on the wall did I realise that maybe dinner didn’t mean what I thought it meant.Drinks~

Cider gimlet Calvados Domfrontais, acidulated butter, cider cordial ($24.00).Peter Pipe’s pickled lemon lemonade lemon juice, lemon brine, lemon sugar, soda ($14.00). My mouth is watering just thinking about this drink again. Man it was intensely lemony and tangy.Complimentary~

Bread and butter.Starters~

Meat Fruit mandarin, chicken liver parfait and grilled bread ($38.00). This was spectacular, visually and texturally. This seemed like the obvious choice for a photo but I really enjoyed tasting this even though I’m not a huge fan of pâté like objects. The mandarin gel covering was subtle and melted away almost at an instant when it hits the tongue. I was completely blown away by how creamy the pâté tasted and the airy light texture, which was a sharp contrast to the crunchy grilled bread.This is truly a work of art.Rice & Flesh saffron, curried kangaroo, red wine and amaranth ($38.00).Savoury Porridge garlic and parsley butter, grilled abalone, pickled beetroot and fennel ($36.00). The texture of the oats along with texture of the fennel reminded me of the snail porridge from Fat Duck. TimmyC said he thought that some of the elements of the dish seemed odd but when you put everything together, it all paired perfectly.Mains~

Slow Cooked Pork Belly Spelt, lardo, baby turnip & Robert sauce ($58.00). I have never had pork belly that was as white as the clouds that tasted like a Christmas ham. It was absolutely incredible. Even though I was thoroughly enjoying my main, I leant over and helped myself to the pork belly.Chicken cooked with lettuces grilled onion emulsuion, oyster leaves and spiced parsnip sauce ($58.00).Specials~

David Blackmore Waygu (marbling score 9+ 200g) served with mushroom ketchup and triple cooked chips ($120.00 yes you read that right). I know what you’re thinking, if a ‘special’ is so special, why isn’t it on the menu? The only reason that it isn’t usually on the menu is because the steak isn’t always available so now that it was, I jumped at the chance!

I think there is nothing more sad than when a steak sits alone on a plate but seriously – this needed nothing else because it was perfect just the way it was. I didn’t even eat the mushroom ketchup and triple cooked chips after tasting them (I hear you all gasping!). It was the nicest steak I’ve ever eaten; it was well seasoned but the meat itself was very flavoursome and it almost didn’t require chewing because it melted in your mouth. The only downside is that it has ruined me for other steak.That marbling- WOW!The triple cooked chips were really crunchy.Desserts~

Tipsy cake spit roast pineapple with a freshly baked brioche ($32.00). When the waiter was describing how the pineapple was prepared by spit roasting while being basted in an apple salted caramel sauce, I was sold! What really surprised me about the dessert was the amazing freshly made brioche; it completely blew me away. I spent a lot of my time sniffing its intoxicating scent, it reminded me of stepping into a bakery. The brioche is finished off with brandy and Sauternes cream which was like an amazing bread and butter pudding on another level. I would have this every day if I could.Want a bite?The beautiful pineapples slowly being spit roasted while being basted every now and then.Chocolate bar passionfruit jam and ginger ice cream ($30.00).The Lamington cake raspberry jam, toasted coconut, rum and vanilla ice cream ($30.00).A little something something~

Just when we thought the experience was about to end, we were given an extra little something sweet before we left. Chocolate ganache with carraway seed biscuit– the ganache was extremely soft and smooth and the biscuit was the perfect accompaniment because it offset the sweetness.We found the service to be very attentive, efficient and friendly. I wouldn’t wait for a special occasion, just come here and experience fantastic food.Venue: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

Address: Crown Towers Melbourne, 130/8 Whiteman St, Southbank VIC

Phone(03) 9292 5779

Websitewww.dinnerbyheston.com.au/

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pepper Lunch launch

I was lucky enough to be invited to the Food Blogger Pepper Lunch launch thanks to a lovely friend Fran (go check out her awesome blog here) and the generous owners of Pepper Lunch Canberra. They offered each blogger and their guest a main, a side, a drink and a dessert, although our meals were complimentary all opinions are our own.Pepper Lunch is bringing Japanese DIY Teppan to Canberra! Meals come out on a 260C hot plate and you cook the meat to your liking. Here is their ‘how to guide’:When we received our meal, the polite staff apologised for the wait when in fact we barely waited at all. I hope it is always this fast!

Classic beef pepper rice (a la carte $9.90). I couldn’t go to Pepper Lunch and not try their signature dish. The beef cooked really fast and was tasty but I felt the rice needed more sauce. Luckily there are two sauces on the table which included a sweet sauce and a garlic sauce (shake before use) that I added to my liking.Edit  Curry chicken pepper rice (a la carte $11.20). I really loved the curry sauce and I’ve decided that the next time I go, I’m getting something with that sauce!Shimofuri ‘porterhouse’ pepper steak (a la carte $16.90). The Food Marshall said that it was seasoned to perfection but it had a bit of gristle through it. She found TimmyC’s dish had better marbling.Giant rib eye steak (a la carte $24.90). This steak was noticeably bigger than the porterhouse but it was in the ‘giant’ section of the menu. I found this steak really delicious and ‘melt in your mouth’. It is on the more expensive end when compared with other menu items especially if you make it into a meal. You can make any a la carte menu item into a meal which includes one regular drink and one regular side for $4.90.

Regular sides: rice/chips/miso soup/shake shake salad.

Premium sides: onion rings/sweet potato wedges.All the sundaes have the same ice cream base but they are covered in different toppings. There are four flavours: chocolate nut crush, caramel swirl, green tea delight and black seasame; they  currently don’t have the black sesame flavour yet but they ensure me it is coming. I really enjoyed the caramel swirl and I really wanted to love the green tea delight but the flavour was so subtle, it was almost non existent. I hoping they adjust it and it will be better in the future.It was getting toasty warm inside the restaurant between all the people and 260C plates, so I imagine the restaurant will be a popular place to be this winter.

They have a loyalty card, the more you eat the better the reward!They are really trying to ensure that things run smoothly with the restaurant having a soft opening for the next few days to train staff and slowly ease their way in before trading normal hours (see below).

Venue:Pepper Lunch (Canberra)

Address: Shop 3 (next to Oliver Brown) 88-96, Bunda Street, Opposite Canberra Centre, Civic,  ACT

Phone: (02) 6152 0565

Opening hours: The next few days Pepper Lunch will have a soft opening, so hours will vary but they will roughly be lunch 12pm – 3pm dinner 6pm – 9pm

Sunday – Thursday 11:30am – 9:30pm

Friday – Saturday 11:30am – 10:30pm

Steak nights at Ducks Nuts

Tuesday nights are steak nights at the new Ducks Nuts bar and grill in Dickson, $15 bucks will get you a butler steak with green leaf salad and your choice of gravy (chips are $5.00 extra).I asked mine to be medium rare and that’s what I got.  It’s not an overly big piece of steak but it was still delicious and succulent piece of meat.A useful condiment caddy with all the favourites.For those who want something else other than steak will find many options on their menu. Fried buttermilk chicken burger with house slaw and chipotle mayo served with shoe string fries ($19.00).My friend really enjoyed his burger.

Ducks Nuts specials calendar

Sunday Roast all day with all the trimmings ($20.00).

Monday SchnitzelHaus ($15.00).

Tuesday Steak night ($15.00).

Wednesday Burger night with craft beer ($15.00).

 

 

Venue: Ducks Nuts

Address: 30 Woolley St, Dickson ACT 2602 (where O’Neill’s Irish Pub used to be)

Phone(02) 6230 7675

Websitehttp://ducksnuts.net.au/

Opening hours: 7 days a week 11:00am – late

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

Provini

I suffer from serious FOMO (fear of missing out), so when illness stopped me from all my pre-planned dinners/lunches/weekends away, I promised myself that I would postpone them all rather than missing out altogether. One of these planned outings was to go to Provini, the newly opened Italian restaurant run by the Cocu group in Civic (where La Scala used to be). I excitedly made my booking and not long after received a sms prompt about my reservation. A few hours after that, I received another sms to confirm my booking with a ‘YES’ reply, apparently I was not the only one over excited about my postponed dinner.

Not your typical front of a restaurant in the middle of the city, it definitely feels like you’re stepping into someone’s house.Pizza~The top pizza is the Provini ham, soppressa, peppers, chilli ($24.00) and bottom is Margherita tomato, basil, fior di latte ($21.00). When none of the entrees or antipasto options really excited us, we all naturally gravitated towards the pizza and shared that between us for starters instead. I really really enjoyed the pizza bases here and their fresh toppings really put it to the next level. I probably preferred the Provini over the margherita because it had more exciting flavours and I found the basil to be rather sparse.Pasta~

Spaghetti carbonara guanciale, pecorino, yolk ($24.00). The pasta looked underwhelming being dry with not many ingredients. My friend didn’t really enjoy it.Tagliatelle al nero di seppia squid ink tagliatelle, prawns, pippies, chilli, tomato ($29.00). My other friend had the same problem as the cabonara, when it arrived it was very aromatic but it felt really dry and underwhelming without a ‘sauce’. It also seemed like a very small serving of pasta for the price.
Fazzoletti al ragu pork, veal, white wine ragu ($26.00). The first thing I noticed was the fresh pasta cooked perfectly; I rather enjoyed the fazzoletti cut of pasta (pasta handkerchiefs). Unfortunately I found the wet sloppy consistency of the ragu reminded me of canned tuna but this was definitely my favourite choice between the pastas.Secondi~ 

600g dry age rib eye with roasted tomato and choice of two sides (designed to share $66.00). We chose wood roasted vegetables with rosemary salt and baked roman gnocchi for our sides to share.We found the rib eye to be okay, a little underseasoned which was easy to taste because there was no jus or sauce to hide behind. The vegetables with a nice choice for a side but I preferred the gnocchi because it was more cheesy and decadent. I personally and selfishly could finish this on my own but I guess it is nice to share the price tag.

Wood roasted vegetables with rosemary salt.
Baked Roman gnocchi.I was super excited about trying Provini because I love Italian food but I found the service to be inconsistent (some were friendly and some seemed arrogant) and the food overall to be disappointing that we didn’t want to stay for dessert; we were actually considering a second dinner somewhere else because we found the serving size a bit small. The pizzas/starters came out pretty fast but there was a long wait before our pastas and mains came out.  If I was to come back again, I would maybe try some antipasto and stick with the pizzas.

Venue: Provini

Address: 50 Bunda Street, Canberra ACT

Phone(02) 6154 9720
Click to add a blog post for Provini on Zomato

Marble and Grain

It was Monday night and although Marble and Grain wasn’t my first/second/third or even my fourth choice of places to eat, I had seen an influx of instagrammed photos recently and mainly because it was open, that I asked my friends meet me there for dinner.When we walked in, I didn’t expect the premises to be so big but it expands over several shop fronts and it is a bar on one side and restaurant with a big open kitchen on the other. It is the restaurant for the 5 star Avenue Hotel and it proceeded to become quite busy over the duration we were there considering it was a Monday night.     Complimentary bread and butter to start.Starters~

Truffle and parmesan arancini served with garlic mayo (5 for $10.00). These were delicious, the inside was cheesy (not that much truffle though), the outer coating was crispy and the sauce went really well with it.

 
Chorizo corn dogs with smokey tomato relish (4 for $9.00). I would have thought these would have been waaaay more cute if that had sticks piercing through them but I just stabbed my fork through them and dealt with it. The battered coating didn’t do much but the chorizo was full of flavour and made up for it and it definitely needed the tomato relish.
Entree~

Seared scallops cauliflower, water cress and smoked chorizo oil ($19.00). While I shared two smaller plates which were the price equivalent of this one entrée, the boys didn’t regret their choice at all and I barely sampled any of this dish but TimmyC did give me a bit of the scallops. It was naturally sweet, had a good sear and paired perfectly with the little pieces of chorizo that came with it.

 
Mains~

12hr braised beef short rib 500g smoked carrots, cavolo netro and herb jus ($35.00).I’ve had a really good short rib from Temporada and so I had high hopes for this dish, but I found that the sticky glaze felt like it coated the inside of my mouth and proceeded keep going down my throat. The meat itself was very tender and the puree helped to cut through that sticky feeling. Despite being 500g, I found some of that dead weight to be in the big bone that was attached and I was still hungry after my main, lucky for me Timmy couldn’t finish his and I helped him out.

The Grill~ all served with paris mash, sautéed spinach, bone marrow and herb jus.

Scotch fillet grass fed 300g ($36.00). Although I have found Chifley’s has ruined me for steak at other restaurants, this was really nice and I found it to be the best tasting steak on the table; I probably ate just a little over half of TimmyC’s dish. I’m not the biggest fan of bone marrow, I find it too rich even for me, it is like eating really wobbly fat which I don’t mind on a steak if it is seared well.

Rib eye steak special 500g ($40.00). My friend was really disappointed about the way his steak was cooked, although he wouldn’t let the wait staff know and just complained as he cut through pieces of his steak that was definitely cooked beyond rare as he had ordered.Sirloin steak Travale pasture fed angus 250g ($36.00). My other friend was also less than impressed with his steak, something between the taste of the meat and way it was cooked just couldn’t be compared to the steaks that we had a Chifley’s.Sides~

Roast sweet corn with bacon salt ($9.00). I know I am constantly disappointed with corn at restaurants but a juicy sweet corn goes so well with so much meat. There was a slight delay with my corn and when I brought it up with my waitress, she said that she would check on it (it was probably forgotten). When she returned she said that she was sorry for the hold up and that the corn would be taken off the bill which I thought was really nice. The corn itself was sweet and was covered in a salt that I wouldn’t identify as bacon but was nice nonetheless.Desserts~

White chocolate brulee berries, basil and roasted hazelnuts ($14.00). TimmyC pushed his dessert forward and asked me and a friend to taste it, without hesitation I dug my spoon in tasted it and spat it out immediately. After confirmation that it wasn’t just TimmyC’s taste buds and that there was something definitely wrong with this dessert, I called the very polite waitress over and told her that this dessert was utterly salty. She made a puzzled face and was very apologetic, we suggested to get the chefs to taste and we all peered over from afar to see the chef’s reaction was similar to ours. They had mistakenly caramelised the top with salt rather than sugar, an easy mistake to do when comparing the ingredients but it had devastating effects in our mouths and I expected an establishment like this not to make that type of mistake. The waitress apologised a lot but we knew it wasn’t her fault personally, TimmyC was able to either wait for another brulee to be made or choose another dessert and his dessert and coffee were taken off the bill.This looked like a ‘berry’ big mess, I later on found photos of other people’s brulee on Instagram it was plated out much nicer than this.

Banoffee cheesecake banana, chocolate shavings and dulce de leche ($14.00). After the debacle of his first dessert, TimmyC had tasted his friend’s dessert and decided that this would be his replacement dessert, although after it was given to him I pointed out that the first dessert had vanilla bean ice cream and his had mango which didn’t really tie in with his caramelised banana and dulce de leche. I called the waitress over again who was scared something else went wrong, I just told her about the flavours of ice cream and she said that it wouldn’t be a problem to give him vanilla bean ice cream and that it was rather delicious and he had to try it. The third plate of dessert was brought to him and TimmyC just wanted it to be good so he could just enjoy his dessert. The caramelised banana and looked beautiful and went very well with the ice cream and dulce de leche, but I found the cheesecake itself a bit bland and out-of-place. TimmyC really liked the pop rocks.

Dark chocolate tart chocolate mousse, honeycomb and vanilla bean gelato ($14.00).Petit fours homemade delicacies ($8.00). After having one and a half meals, I thought I would be conservative and order the petit fours while also gauging TimmyC’s dessert if it wasn’t enough. Tonight’s petit fours consisted of a chocolate bonbon it was dark chocolate and therefore was really intense and left a slightly bitter cocoa aftertaste in my mouth; chocolate brownie this wasn’t decadent at all regardless of its small size, which I found as a refreshing surprise; Turkish delight I don’t usually like Turkish delight but I found myself eating most of this morsel and a raspberry in chantilly cream mini tart I saved this for my last bite because of the fresh raspberry which I adore, berries pair perfectly with cream so it was a match made in heaven.What turned out to be a complimentary flat white coffee.

Despite the sour, or should I say salty note that the meal ended on, I didn’t love Marble and Grain because there wasn’t anything that made them unique. If you were doing things that were heavily on the meaty side, I expect it to be done really well. The service was wonderful and attentive, the mains are okay but the starters and entrée were the star of the night which only meant the rest of the night went down hill from there. It would probably be a nice place to go for after work drinks and nibbles.

Venue: Marble and Grain

Address: Avenue Hotel 25 Mort Street, Braddon, Canberra ACT 2606

Phone02 6246 9555

Opening hoursMonday – Sunday  6:00AM – 12:00AM

Websitewww.marbleandgrain.com.au/
Marble & Grain on Urbanspoon

Chifley’s Bar and Grill

People have always asked me where to find a good steak in Canberra but unfortunately I’ve had more disappointments than recommendations. Finally I can let people know, if you want a good steak, go to Chifley’s in Hotel Kurrajong.

We were greeted at the door of the hotel and asked if we had a reservation before being led into the restaurant and to our table.

The lovely hotel lobby at Hotel Kurrajong.IMG_8085.JPGThe dining room is separated into three areas, we were initially seated with a lot of the other patrons near the entrance but we asked to be moved to another table for better lighting and seating. I found towards the end of the night that the initial section almost looked like people were sitting in the dark, I’m glad that we moved.IMG_8086.JPGMojito ($18.00).IMG_8097.JPGComplimentary and butter. It was a delicious sour dough bread accompanied by the cutest serves of pepe saya butter that I’ve ever seen.IMG_8100.JPGStarters~

Master Kobe Flank Beef Carpacio fried liliput capers, pecorino sardo, salsa verde ($15.00). The beef took a back seat in terms of flavours in comparison to the other elements of the dish. I’m not usually a fan of capers but these fried liliput capers had an amazing crunchy texture which were bursting with flavour and not too salty. The amazing flavours for me came from the beautiful olive oil that they used, I even had to ask what it was because I loved it so much (they said it was Morello by the way).IMG_8107.JPGSeared Hervey Bay scallops shaved iberico de bellota paletila, jerusalem artichoke crisps, spring pea puree ($19.00). The flavours were really nice and there was a nice crunch to the crisps, I just didn’t think that the scallops had enough seared texture to them but TimmyC really liked this dish.IMG_8106.JPGSteaks~

All steaks are served with a celeriac puree and your choice of sauce.

Sauce choices include: red wine jus, pink peppercorn and tarragon jus, cafe de Paris, classic beef jus, horseradish aioli and fresh perigord truffle jus (+$10.00).IMG_8090.JPGTajima Wagyu Lidcome NSW

300g Rump Cap/ 500 day grain fed 7+ ($42.00) with cafe de Paris sauceIMG_8115.JPGSher Waygu F1 – Ballan, Vic

350g rib eyes (dry aged 60 days) 300+ day ration fed 5+ ($57.00) with  pink peppercorn and tarragon jus.IMG_8116.JPGI’m usually a huge fan of peppercorn sauce (pictured) but after tasting the fresh perigord truffle jus, I just couldn’t go back.IMG_8120.JPG

300g Scotch fillet 300+ day ration fed 5+ ($38.00) with pink peppercorn and tarragon jus. I asked for my steak to be cooked medium rare and it came out beautiful, juicy and incredibly tasty. It was all good until I tasted TimmyC’s steak and sauce.
We were provided with Laguiole steak knife, a French cutlery brand which carved through the steaks with ease.
IMG_8118.JPG

 A cross section of my steak before I took my first bite.IMG_8127.JPGDavid Blackmore Wagyu Alexandra, Vic

300g Rump 600+ day ration fed 9+ ($52.00) with fresh perigord truffle jus (+$10.00). My mistake was taking a bite of TimmyC’s steak in between eating my steak, I almost immediately got steak envy and kept watching and waiting for him to get full so I could swoop in and eat the rest of his steak. A lot of the time, paying more for a steak doesn’t mean it is better but I feel in this case it was. There was marbling throughout the steak as well as tasty bits of fat around the sides. Also after tasting TimmyC’s sauce meant I didn’t like my pink peppercorn jus afterwards but he was nice enough to let me sparingly use it on my steak and chips.IMG_8111.JPGSides~ (all sides are $8.00).

After choosing all the sides, I realised I chose two types of onions and two types of potato. Ooops, my bad.

Onion rings. I really disliked the thick batter around these onion rings, I have had better from a cafe a few days earlier, I found these disappointing and I wouldn’t order these again.IMG_8125.JPGPomme fries. Yes it is just a fancy way to say shoe string fries but they were served hot and well salted which is all you could ask for. A great side to dip into your sauce and accompany your steak.IMG_8122.JPGParis mash. Only every so slightly gritty in texture but it wasn’t buttery and delicious like I’m used to with most Paris mash, it must have been a healthier version.IMG_8121.JPGCaramelised Spanish onion with pangratatta. My preferred onion side of the two but I still could have done without it.IMG_8124.JPGDessert~

The waiters had been attentive all night but after leaving us with the dessert menu we looked around the dining area and with only three tables with patrons left, there was no one around to serve us. We waited long enough for us to contemplate having dessert elsewhere, but I’m glad we stayed.

Which dessert would you have chosen?IMG_8130.JPGPassionfruit souffle with passionfruit sorbet ($18.00). The passionfruit sorbet packed a punch and upon tasting it, we all made a face like we just sucked a lemon. It was intense and I thought the flavours would lend it self better to a vanilla based dessert rather than more passionfruit. The souffle itself was very light and had a distinct passionfruit taste, easily one of the nicest souffles I have ever eaten.IMG_8133.JPGThe souffle had a great airy light texture.IMG_8137.JPGVanilla panna cotta macerated strawberries and hazelnut tuiles ($16.00). Wow, if this dessert had a bum, it could twerk like mad! We spent the better half of 5 minutes watching our dessert hypnotically jiggling about on the plate. It had an incredible smooth texture with a distinct sweet vanilla flavour and I love how the vanilla beans are dispersed throughout and not just stuck on the top.IMG_8135.JPGWe received the bill and lucky we double check as some of the steaks were overcharged.

It was hard to navigate ourselves around the menu, the steak choices on the list are extensive so we just chose based on favourite cuts and marbling score. We were told we wouldn’t get a bad steak here and after the meal we all collectively agreed. I love how they cook their specialty well and the fabulous desserts were a pleasant surprise.

Venue: Chifley’s Bar and Grill

AddressHotel Kurrajong, 8 National Circuit Barton, ACT

Phone: 02 6234 4444

Chifley's Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Human flyer – Hogs Breath

Trust me, a franchise was not my first choice for dinner while showing an interstate guest around. We had been pretty lucky with the food so far with it being a public holiday (see brunch and lunch here) and all we were looking for to finish off the day was some delicious meat. Smoque had promised to be opened but we were really disappointed when we were greeted with closed doors. I didn’t have a plan B because their FB page had promised me delicious ribs and wings.

We did a lap around the Sydney and Melbourne building and with not much open, we decided to head to Hogs Breath down in Baileys Arcade where we knew we could get a steak and who doesn’t love a curly fry. When we arrived, I was quite surprised to find it so busy despite the early time.

Cheesy Garlic & Herb Bread Cheesy Garlic & Herb Bread topped with cheddar cheese and grilled to golden brown ($7.95). I don’t understand how you can toast bread, burn the edges while having some bread soft and soggy from the butter. A shame because who doesn’t love a good cheesy garlic bread.IMG_5827.JPGHickory Smoked Prime Rib A real Tex-Mex flavour. Seared and topped with a hickory smoked BBQ sauce on the char grill (Lite Cut $24.95). We all chose lite cuts because we had lunch not long ago. A tender steak cooked to my liking covered in a thick hickory smoked BBQ sauce. It wasn’t an American BBQ but it still satisfied a meat craving that we all had.IMG_5828.JPGService was prompt and attentive, we were able to get to the airport easily without waiting around for food or service.

As for Smoque, I always assume a FB page is accurate as they are always active on their account. It turns out that they had cool room problems over the weekend which forced them to shut on the Monday and they offered a few disappointed patrons some vouchers which is nice.

Outback Jacks re-run

I didn’t think I would be back here in a hurry and it puzzled me that another franchise of Outback Jacks was opening in Civic but due to over shopping on my part, we thought we’d stay within the Belconnen mall to get dinner rather than venturing out to the suburbs which was the original plan. It also really helped having the Entertainment book voucher which provides a ‘complimentary main meal’ when another main meal is purchased.

They were nice enough to accommodate for my friend who can’t eat pork (very sad I know) and replaced the pork ribs from the Steak and Ribs combo with lamb ribs 100 day grain feed 300g rump and out meaty Jack Daniels basted pork ribs, served with chips and salad ($39.95). My friend really really enjoyed her ribs! I have never had lamb ribs before but now I’m curious to try. Her steak which she ordered ‘rare’ was bordering towards medium but I think the deliciousness of the lamb ribs made up for it.IMG_4682.JPGPrime rib on the bone (400g) served bone in to maximise tenderness and improve flavour. Our champion steak! ($39.95). My other friend and I ordered the same steak but she got hers with a ‘surf & turf topper’ ($10.00) while I opted for mushroom sauce on the side (2.95). I was much more impressed with my steak than last time I was here (last time I had the steak and ribs combo). The steak was cooked to medium rare which was how I ordered it and prefer it. You could taste the meat which what I like in the steak but I did like the creamy richness that the mushroom sauce provided.

Prime rib on  the bone with a surf and turf topper. Best of both words if you like steak and seafood.IMG_4675.JPGMy simple steak with the sauce on the side so I could control how much I had per mouthful or ditch it if it tasted horrible, but luckily it wasn’t!IMG_4677.JPGA cross-section of my medium rare steak.IMG_4679.JPGThe service has really improved, the giggling unhelpful girls were either not rostered on or have been replaced with more efficient staff. We ended up going somewhere else for dessert and I was partially not ready to relive that experience again. The Civic store has some hope if they have good service, tasty food and family friendliness. It is really close to Hogs Breath though, so we’ll see.

Read my previous visit here.

Royal Tara

It’s not that I ran out if places to eat in Canberra nor was I tired from the restaurant scene that I drove over an hour out of Canberra for a meal but I heard that there was an amazing place that I must try out in Binalong which only happens to open for dinner. So out we drove into the country to see what all the fuss was about at the Royal Tara.

The decor is simple and quaint, with all the effort placed in the food and serving it hot and fresh. This place has a very laid back atmosphere with all the locals wheeling in eskys filled with beer and wine, I even saw a guy bring in a bottle of vodka and casually placed it on the table and added it to his drinks. Tables are rearranged to accommodate large tables and families etc, you gotta love the country hospitality.

20131106-215520.jpgRiverport raspberry and lemonade ($4.00). A red slush puppy slushie to the tee!!20131106-212807.jpg

Entree~

Garlic bread 4 large pieces per serve ($5.00). There are some breads that fill you up and there are some other breads make you want more, wet your appetite and then leaving you more hungry than when you started. I had a little smirk when I saw it was topped with cheese. It was so good.

20131106-212504.jpgSpanish garlic prawns Chef’s specialtygreen prawns cooked in chilli and garlic ($18.00). This tasted like they used minced garlic from a bottle but it still had a good garlic punch to it (on the sweeter side) with a good mix of chilli. I love how this was served piping hot with all the oil, garlic and chilli. Lip smacking.20131106-213240.jpg

Crumbed chicken tenderloins with salad greens and sweet chilli ($17.00). Tender crispy chicken morsels that will keep any adult or kid happy.20131106-213354.jpgTempura battered calamari battered calamari rings with salad and lime aoili ($18.00). I didn’t really see much visual difference between the chicken and the calamari. The calamari had a crispy coating while the meat inside was very soft and not chewy at all.20131106-213525.jpg

Mains~

They kept it simple on the menu, there was a choice of fish, chicken or steak and as good as the other options sounded, I knew my stomach was get meal envy if I didn’t get a steak.

Fillet steak tender eye fillet topped with parsley butter – a selection of mustards is available ($28.00). A very tender piece of beef and probably more for the people who didn’t want to have their steak covered in a thick rich sauce.

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Pepper steak fillet steak with green peppercorn cream sauce ($30.00). There was a decent amount of peppercorn in that sauce which I loved, this would have been my second choice for a steak but I chose something different so there was no meal overlap.20131106-213721.jpg

Steak diane fillet steak with garlic cream sauce ($30.00). Every now and then I would steal a bit of TimmyC’s sauce, it was very nice and I probably would have licked the plate if I wasn’t eating at a restaurant with judging eyes around me.

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Fillet steak with mushroom sauce fillet steak with mushroom, tomato and onion sauce ($30.00). All the sauce may have looked ‘brown’ but there was a distinct taste difference between all of them I promise! This was a very good steak, I was worried about not disclosing the size (nothing worse than having a sad little piece of steak on the side of the plate) but it was good decent portion (around 300g?). I also liked how despite everyone having the same vegetables, they didn’t just make it ahead of time and let it sit on a bain marie to get overcooked and mushy, all the vegetables were cooked perfectly. You could really taste the steak and it wasn’t overwhelmed by the sauce of choice. It has been a while since I’ve had a good steak, such a shame this place is so far away!20131106-214126.jpg

No matter what the customer wanted (even if it was well done *gasp*), all the steaks were cooked to perfection.20131106-214325.jpg

and then back to entrees…

Oysters kilpatrick a dozen oysters cooked with bacon and Chef’s secret sauce ($23.00). Yes, while half way through my steak, I started to have eaters regret for not ordering oysters. Trust me, the waitress was as surprised as you were that I was ordering an entree after my main, but to cancel things out I shared a dessert rather than have one to myself, although I was tempted.  They were made very well and I’m always a fan of crisping up the bacon rather than under cooking them under a grill.

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20131106-215131.jpgDessert~

Sticky date pudding served warm with caramel sauce and vanilla ice-cream ($11.00). There was a bit of a dessert stand off, three out of four of us wanted sticky date pudding. I looked on with an unapproving blogger eyes. I convinced TimmyC against his will that he did not want this but rather the refreshing tangy taste of a lemon and lime tart. As soon as the sweet smell of caramel hit the air and the warm caramel pooled around a very moist pudding, I got a dirty look.  We all had a taste of this dessert but instead of relieving curiosity, it gave us all dessert envy. In short, do not get talked out of getting a sticky date pudding.20131106-215301.jpg

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Chocolate mudcake served warm with vanilla ice-cream ($11.00). Probably the most unexciting dessert on the table, it was moist and rich but it just didn’t compare with the other desserts.20131106-215339.jpg

Lemon and lime tart served with vanilla ice-cream ($11.00). Despite being the second choice, this tart was amazing. I was completely blown away by how smooth the tart filling was with the perfect balance between tangy and sweet. A lovely refreshing way to cleanse the palate after a fabulous meal.

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It might be a far way to go for a meal, but I encourage everyone to come out here if you love a good steak. They are supposed to also make fantastic frozen pies (even better than Gum tree pies which is a very big call!) which are usually made on Wednesday but are sold out by the Friday. You wouldn’t think that such a fabulous establishment was attached to a motel out in the sticks.

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Venue: Royal Tara

Address: 27-37 Stephens Street, Binalong, NSW 2584

Phone: (02) 6227 4310

Websitehttp://www.motelroyaltara.com.au/diningroom.htm

Royal Tara 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/

C Dine Bar on Urbanspoon

Rockpool Bar and Grill – Melbourne

Knowing that we were going to Melbourne, we organised dinner quick smart and booked a table at the Rockpool weeks ahead. They confirmed numbers with my friend three times and because we were a table of 10+, it was going to be a $50 pp cancellation fee with less than 24hrs notice.

Heading into the restaurant, all I could smell was beef, I almost drifted in the air following my nose up to the counter. When we sat down we had perfect lighting but because everyone else was running late it was ever so dim when all the food arrived. image

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While waiting for the rest of the guests to arrive, we ordered fancy pants drinks and thoroughly browsed the menu.

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Each menu is printed daily on an A3 sheet featuring different cows.

Hot starter~

Lobster omelette with prawn sauce3 eggs, 50g of lobster, white wine, cream and a whole lot of other delicious things topped with a prawn bisque ($35.00). Decadence on a plate! Amazing flavours but it is a little on the heavy side.

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Mains~

Wagyu Bolognaise with Hand Cut Fettuccine ($25.00). Tim really enjoyed how pasta but luckily he also ordered the lobster omelette because the serving size was literally the size of a small ball of yarn.

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Beef from the wood fired grill David Blackmore full blood Wagyu (all Wagyu from 9+ marble score animals). Rump 240g 23 days ($95.00). I know they have a long list of options for sides but I was slightly taken by surprise that $95.00 only gets you a steak and a wedge of lemon on the plate. I’ve been plenty disappointed with a lot of $50.00 steaks and this was just a beautiful piece of meat that was well seasoned, lovingly prepared and quickly eaten.

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Cape Grim dry aged 36 month old grass fed Rib Eye on the bone 350g 56 days ($60.00). Another friend got the rib eye and said he enjoyed our rump better.

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Condiment service ~

mustards, barbeque sauce, harissa

 

Sides~

Mac and Cheese ($12.00) – Big tubes of rich cheesy pasta, everything you want in a mac and cheese. My favourite side by far!

Boiled Mixed Greens with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Lemon ($9.00) – Health conscious people, there’s one on every table and this is what they ordered. Nothing particularly special but I guess it was nice to have something green after the omelette and mac and cheese.

Baby Nicola Potatoes Sautéed in Wagyu Fat with Garlic and Rosemary ($12.00) not pictured – had a very strong garlic and rosemary taste.

Mushy Peas with a Slow Cooked Egg ($12.00) – Tim ordered this based on a server’s recommendation who said this was out of this world. Despite not liking peas, I had a few bites anyway. I didn’t spit them out and they tasted ok but it wasn’t the dish that converted me to liking peas. Tim said it was underwhelming also.

I was hoping the staff didn’t notice that they wanted us out by 8:30pm (we had a 6:30 booking) and it was approaching 9pm. I thought we had a real chance of sneaking in a dessert but alas, it was like they read my devious thoughts and in an instant 5 servers took all our plates away and it was like we never had a meal. 

Just a heads up with groups of 10+ people they have a ‘recommended service charge’ of 10% on the bill which you can pay ‘at your discretion’.

Venue: Rockpool bar and grill

AddressCrown Complex, Southbank VIC 3006

Phone(03) 8648 1900

Opening hoursLunch Sunday to Friday, Dinner 7 Days

Rockpool Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon