It is always amazes me how quickly winter creeps up in Perth. Maybe it’s because we’re a little spoilt here in this sunny city. We have long glorious summers and comparably short winters meaning we never really get acclimatised to the concept of being cold so when it does come it really hits us with a shock. Notoriously the Boy’s birthday always comes about at just that point in time when the very first cold snap arrives. Not that we have ever let cold weather stand in the way of good fun mind you, in fact one year I remember he decided it a grand idea to jump in our pool with the bestie! So this year out we went in the freezing rain for some birthday celebrations. As we left the house he excitedly reminded me again that the next time we celebrate our birthdays together we will be husband and wife! It still gives me goose bumps of joy saying that!
A number of weeks ago in an attempt to adhere to our wedding budget I had purchased a Spreets coupon for Villa D’Este. It was a very good deal: a three course meal for two for only $99. Quite a few years ago our bank took us out for dinner here. We all had a wonderful meal back then so I figured that this place had some potential to be a much better coupon experience than our previous recent outings.
One thing that really drives the Boy crazy is feeling like he is being ripped off by cab drivers. As soon as we climb into a taxi no matter where we are, he is as sharp as a tack in noticing any dodgy tactics they might use to make extra money. As I naïvely chatted away to him on our way over to West Perth, I could feel that something was really bothering him yet I couldn’t quite work out what. I continued to remain completely oblivious for long enough for him to become a little impatient and frustrated with me. Finally as I noticed what a long winded route we were taking the penny dropped and I nodded my head knowingly at him.
After our scenic route we eventually arrived at our pre-dinner destination Amphoras Bar. The driver proceeded to slowly and deliberately remove our change coin by coin and placed it on the centre console. He even stopped mid-counting coins a couple of times to fiddle with his phone, Navman and a few other knobs in his car. The Boy was convinced that the driver was pretending to have difficulty hoping we would say not to worry and he could keep the change. Being a very perceptive type he was probably right.
After the tension in the taxi it was a relief to walk into the cosy and warm atmosphere of Amphoras. I was literally freezing to my bones and I wanted a strong drink to defrost myself. I decided against ordering wine and chose a cocktail called La Parta Sur; it filled the spot wonderfully with no ice to chill me.
The mixed marinated olives contained a suitable mix of types and texture for variety; fleshy, firm Spanish olives, soft and flavoursome Kalamata and some little wild Ligurian olives. Not wanting too much food before we headed over to Villa D’Este, we selected a couple of little tapas dishes to keep us going until our late dinner reservation.
The scallops were a buttery treat served with sweet pickled cucumber and a corn relish. The flavours balanced beautifully without drowning out the enjoyment of the brilliant little mouthfuls of tender scallops. We also ordered some Pedro Ximenez glazed Rosa’s chorizo. Unfortunately the lighting didn’t allow my photos to be viewable so dear readers, you miss out on checking out this dish but I’ll let you know it’s worth going back for. The chorizo was literally bursting in meaty juiciness and had a slight caramelised surface due to the glaze. Thankfully this is my last post using my point-and-shoot so fuzzy photos will (hopefully) be a thing of Chompchomp’s past!
After a few rounds of drinks my bones had sufficiently thawed out enough to briefly brave the cold once again and walk quickly around the corner to Villa D’Este. Despite it being a fairly late booking the restaurant was totally packed and alive with noisy atmosphere. Our table wasn’t ready so we were shown to the bar to enjoy another round of drinks while we waited.
The Boy loves snails. You can be sure if they are on the menu he will order them guaranteed. These ones were cooked in the shells and served with a mixture of red wine, butter, garlic and parsley. The little suckers didn’t disappoint him and were soft, succulent and oozing in garlicky flavours.
My beef carpaccio had a lot of potential as the meat was exquisitely sliced and had a rich deep colour to it. Unfortunately I felt it was left a little drowned in the lemon dressing which overpowered any flavour or the meat leaving my mouth feeling pickled and sour.
The Boy ordered the Piccata Tartufata: medallions of veal which was topped with a slice of prosciutto, soft cheese and served with a truffle flavoured barbera wine sauce. He wasn’t very impressed with his choice, his meat was a little tough and the sauce lacked the rich flavours one would expect. He also commented that he could barely taste any truffle flavour.
I chose the Special of the Day which was prosciutto wrapped rabbit with roasted chestnuts and risotto cake. I hadn’t eaten roasted chestnuts since walking along the streets of Paris many years ago where they are sold by street vendors in cones of newspaper. It brought back wonderful memories of our time backpacking through Europe and although the rabbit was ever so slightly overcooked I still really enjoyed this dish.
For dessert I ordered the Duetto di Panna e Caramello which was a match made in heaven: consisting of a layer of pannacotta topped with a layer of crème caramel and drizzled with tart berry compote. Combining these two standouts from Italian and French cuisine and was by far and by large one of the highlights of the evening for me. I was so full that I was nearly on the verge of nausea yet I still managed to gobble most of it. In fact if it wasn’t the boy’s birthday, I would have been very reluctant to share any of it but seeing as it was meant to be his night to enjoy I meekly let his help me polish it off.
Of course I’m sure my regular dear readers could probably guess what he ordered for his own birthday dessert….yes you guess it, gelati! As expected in a fine dining Italian restaurant the gelati was smooth and towards the end I thought I spotted him nearly licking his bowl clean.
Happy Birthday my love, I hope you had a fabulous night out. Here’s to many more amazing birthdays together xxAmphoras Bar 1303 Hay St, West Perth 6005 | (08) 9226 4666 | www.amphorasbar.com.au Price: $$$ (Tapas dishes range from $7-39 per plate) Food: 4/5 (we only sampled a few dishes and must return to make a true judgment) Service: 3/5 (waiter not very knowledgeable about the menu ingredients/details) Ambience: 4/5 (warm, cosy & didn’t want to leave) Drinks: 4/5 (great wine list, fabulous cocktails) Total: 15/20 Villa D’Este Restaurant 49 Outram St, West Perth 6005 | (08) 9322 6262 | www.villadeste.com.au Price: $$$$ (Entrees $26-39, Mains $39-54. We bought a $99 Spreets voucher which gave us a three course meal for two) Food: 3/5 (a little hit and miss in its execution) Service: 4.5/5 (brilliant, helpful & accommodating for my allergies) Ambience: 4.5/5 (feels like I’m in Italy) Drinks: 4/5 (extensive list of Australian and Italian wines) Total: 16/20
Spontaneous and unplanned brunches are often the best as there is no level of expectation or excitement. If the meal successfully hits the spot, the pleasure is such a wonderful surprise that it makes the overall experience even better. Our visit to Little Pantry was one of these wonderful occasions.
That week it had been so wet and wild in our normally sunny city of Perth. The winter weather leaves us all in a state of shock as we are never prepared emotionally or physically for anything that amounts to a real winter. Despite being so unaccustomed and permanently in a state of shiver, my practice manager Liz and I both headed out in the pouring rain on some important business duties. Our trip took us into Subiaco and once our meeting had finished we deemed it essential to stop somewhere for a coffee and a bite to eat to discuss our opinions before presenting it back to our colleagues.
I vaguely recalled seeing a number of cute little cafés along Nicholson Road last time I was in the area and so we headed over there for a gander. The Little Pantry caught my eye as we drove past so after a bit of searching for a park we were fortunate enough for a break in the rain and headed in.
The tiny little café was packed with people, with a big communal table in the centre circled by smaller tables. I understand where the name comes from because it is indeed little. The barista was pumping out some scrumptious smelling coffee and there were a small but mouth-watering selection of lunch options in their cabinet. After some initial concerns that there wouldn’t be any gluten free options I was assured by the waiter that the frittata was suitable.
Our coffees came out quickly and my short macchiato was so good I nearly ordered a second when I noticed the time was already heading into the afternoon. If I have coffee too late into the afternoon I have great trouble falling asleep and with a bright and shiny 7am start the next day I was thankful I looked at the clock first. Little Pantry serves Ponchione coffee that they get airfreighted in fresh from Italy.
My frittata was nearly the best frittata I think I have ever had! It was set to a perfect texture without any wateriness and held its ingredients in place without slipping and slopping apart. It contained sweet potato, zucchini and a hard cheese which I think it tasted like Romano. It was served with a crisp fresh salad of greens dressed to perfection with some extra virgin olive oil.
Liz’s quiche was similarly mind-blowing. It’s incredible how if simple food is cooked and prepared properly using ultra fresh ingredients it can potentially be just as amazing as some fine dining, fancy schpanzy dishes. The pastry was buttery soft and flaky but so wonderfully paper-thin as to not overwhelm the spinach, ricotta and prosciutto filling. It was as divine as mine was.
I am so delighted with our little find and highly recommend stopping in at the Little Pantry if you’re in the area for lunch. Make sure you order a coffee.
Like Me on Facebook!Little Pantry 206 Nicholson Road, Subiaco WA 6008 | (08) 9388 8780 Price: $ (under $15 for lunch each) Food: 5/5 (I simply couldn’t find any fault) Service: 4/5 (prompt friendly and knowledgeable about ingredients) Ambience: 4/5 (buzzing, energetic) Drinks: 4.5/5 (great coffee) Total: 17.5/20
Late last year some of my workmates and I were lucky enough to be the winners of the annual Vetpath Quiz Night. Our prize was a $250 dinner voucher for 150 East Riverside Bar and Restaurant. Nearly six months came and went and we still hadn’t managed to coordinate a night where all six of us could come along. Getting everyone to agree on a set date felt a bit like trying to herd cats but with only one month left on the voucher before it expired; I successfully locked down a night when all but one of our winning team members could all attend. The member who couldn’t join us had recently moved to live in Queensland, so I figured that was a reasonable excuse!
150 East it is currently situated along a highway that appears to be undergoing something that is close to becoming the Greatest Road Works of the Decade here in Perth. Great Eastern Highway is being widened from two lanes to three lanes each way and for those not familiar with this area it may sound like no big deal. However the reality of it is that currently all telecommunications, power and gas lines lie under the existing footpaths which will soon be turned into highway roads. So prior to widening the roads, all these need to be located, dug up and moved. They are also adding bike lanes, bus lanes….the works. To complicate things even more the highway is the major gateway from the Eastern suburbs into the city thus making it a project of mammoth proportions which I believe is costing more than $225 million. All along this stretch of highway peak hour traffic has been slowed down to mind numbing speeds of 30-40 km/hour. I am lucky enough to get to travel along this every day to get to work!
As a result of these road works the access into 150 East is quite difficult as it is pretty much centred in the eye of the storm. Surprisingly despite this fact I found that the restaurant was relatively full. They had a live musician playing some covers of Angus and Julia Stone giving a relaxed and chilled out ambience. Some of us met at the bar for a couple of pre-dinner drinks to settle into the mood before we were shown to our table.
I shared a main sized entrée of seared scallops with crispy pork belly. The scallops were cooked beautifully and were soft tender little pillows that nearly dissolved in my mouth. The pork belly was a bit of a letdown. Each mouthful left that lingering fatty aftertaste and the crackling wasn’t crunchy enough. The dressing failed to tie these two ingredients together either and needed a little more sweetness to it to marry the flavours.
A few at our table order the fresh hand cut tagliatelle with prawns and crab. I was informed that the sauce clung beautifully to the strips of delicate pasta, the prawns were crunchy and fresh but the Cajun sauce lacked the punch they were looking for.
I ordered the fish of the day and I realise some of you may be a little weary of my incessant ordering of Barramundi. I agreed that maybe I order it a little too frequently but when done correctly with crispy skin it is one of my favourite types of fish. This time I was fairly disappointed to find my fish was slightly overcooked and didn’t flake apart under my fork.
The duo of duck was the most popular dish of the table and consisted of a confit leg with a duck and cognac sausage. The sausage was juicy and bursting with flavour and the confit leg wasn’t dry at all. The only negative feedback was the fresh pear garnish was a bit too hard.
Despite all being quite full, we all were really aiming to push the boat out for this rare occasion and make the most of the wonderful evening. I shared the vanilla and mandarin crème brûlée which was a beautiful smooth consistency but could have done with a hint more citrus after notes. Needless to say I still nearly licked the bowl clean.
The gingerbread pudding was soft and fairly moist but apparently needed more caramel sauce and as a result my colleagues didn’t finished their serve as it became a bit too stodgy without any extra gooeyness.
The biggest flaw in our evening was the cheese platter. It included a brie (Mon Sire Franche, Comte, France), a blue vein (La Traditional Du Bon Fourme D’Ambert, Auvergne, France), and a hard cheese (Gutshofer Schafskase, The Netherlands). So much potential was completely lost on our taste buds due to all three cheeses being served cold and seemingly straight out of the fridge. The brie was the literally the hardest hit by this oversight as many dear readers can surely empathise making the resultant cheese tasteless and barely edible.
We waited quite some time for our bill to arrive until eventually our waitress came over to inform us their computer had broken down and it would be a long wait until they could reboot it. It was getting quite late so we asked if we could just let her know what we ordered and pay. We were met with reluctance to do this but after further waiting with no computer recovery in sight she allowed us to go through the menu with her. Lucky for us our winning voucher covered the majority of the bill and we had minimal remaining to split amongst us. Given it being a near freebie meal, we all left very full and relatively content. However I hope once the highway access improves for 150 East, so will the quality and attention to detail in their restaurant.
Like Me on Facebook!150 East Riverside Bar Restaurant 150 Great Eastern Highway, Ascot 6104 | (08) 9479 0099 | www.assuredhotels.com.au Price: $$$$ (Entrees $11.50-24.50, Mains $23.50-42) Food: 2/5 (porky aftertaste, overcooked fish and cold brie) Service: 2.5/5 (average no major hiccups) Ambience: 3.5/5 (loved the live music) Drinks: 3/5 (reasonable wine list, includes a lot a lovely Margaret River wines) Total: 11/20
After weeks and weeks of the Boy and I talking about increasing the distance of our Sunday walk to 20 kilometres, we were finally faced with a free day with no time restrictions. Better still, my bestie who is normally busy on this day with yoga teacher training had a free day too. I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to spend my day off; strolling in the sunshine with two of my most favourite people.
Our initial leg took us headfirst into a strong Easterly wind which nearly blew our caps off into the Swan River. Not willing to give in to the elements so soon we powered on in silence each quietly trying to will the gusts away. Luckily once we hit the more protected side of the walk path going through to Burswood the wind had started to die down and we could chatter away to each other and actually be heard. Foolishly I had gone to the gym the day before (in fact I ran to the gym) and I had done a full leg muscle workout completely forgetting about our usual routine the following day. We had barely reached the quarter way mark and my legs were already starting to feel wobbly and tired. Oh dear, I did it once again….the all or nothing part of my personality really does need to be contained sometimes!
As we passed through East Perth, the Boy also started to feel a little weary as he too had done a workout the day prior. In contrast to me, his forethought meant he only trained his upper body knowing full well that his legs would need all their strength for our epic walk. We stopped in at the Kinky Lizard for some “sugaries”; the Boy got an Anzac cookie, Kate and I shared a couple of macarons. I lost a little confidence from the outset as I overheard the waiter call them macaroons. Macarons and macaroons are not the same thing! Our macarons were extremely disappointing and had the texture of a chocolate brownie with the taste of mud cake. No crisp shell, no chewy centre and definitely no layering of flavours.
Energised by the sugar hit we marched on crossing over the Causeway to the South Perth foreshore and then back over the Narrows to the Barrack Jetty area. By this point we had walked a total of 16 kilometres and we were all in desperate need of something more substantial than a snack. We hadn’t visited Sassy’s on Swan for some years and figured it was time for a return visit.
I ordered my usual short mac which I was pleased to see wasn’t topped up with milk – I like mine served traditional. It was very good coffee; not too bitter and a little creamy in its aftertaste. Kate wasn’t as impressed with her latte, it was made too strong for her liking and she felt that the froth was too thick to drink through needing to be scooped off the top first and eaten separately. I actually quite liked the description of her coffee’s thick nearly hardened foam but then to each to their own.
The Boy went all out trying not one but two of Sassy’s fresh fruit smoothies. His first and favourite smoothie was the Berry magic with ice cream. It was thick and tangy with lots of berries and the serving was huge. I’m surprised he had room for another with his breakfast but I guess we had just walked a fair distance. His second smoothie was the mango and banana which tasted less fruity and needed more mangos in it.
I was having a fair bit of indecision with my selection but finally managed to choose the parmesan polenta pizzetta. I love polenta’s versatility, ranging from creamy purée through to being able to have enough substance and form to be used as a baked quiche base. I imagined this pizzette to have a lovely crisp firm base and was disappointed to be served a thick crumbly cakey door stop of polenta with all the toppings piled on top. My serve was huge, they are very generous on their serving sizes; you will not walk away hungry from this place. I couldn’t taste or see any brie cheese as per the menu’s description. Also I felt that the olives should be pitted if served on a pizza and I nearly cracked my tooth on the first one before I realised that they weren’t.
From about the half way mark on our walk, a large component of our conversation was centred about food. Kate had talked at great length about her craving for pancakes and having already read the menu to us earlier on our walk, she thought she could recall reading that there were some served with mascarpone cheese and fruit. By the time we stopped for breakfast her heart was so set on the mascarpone cheese that it nearly skipped a beat when she read the menu properly and realised she was mistaken. She still ordered the pancakes without said mascarpone but should have followed her better judgement and given them a miss.
Like my dish, hers was super-sized consisting of two enormous thick fluffy looking pancakes topped with unfortunately scant pieces of fruit and dried coconut. There was a drizzle of maple syrup over the top but due to the sheer thickness of the pancakes she had to ask for more as she started to feel like she was eating dough. Ideally this dish should have been piled high with some fresh fruit but ended up being too stodgy and overwhelmingly chewy to enjoy. She described them as a poor copy of MacDonald’s hotcakes and regretted her choice for the remainder of our walk home. Poor lass!
As it was nearly lunchtime the Boy decided to forego his usual choice of eggs and ordered a tortilla instead. He initially wanted the lamb however they had run out so he chose the Cajun spiced chicken instead. This ended up being the best meal on our table. The tortilla didn’t fall apart and remained resilient despite lots of juicy sauce flavouring the meat. The chicken wasn’t dry and there was a generous serving of other fillings meaning it received definite thumbs up from the Boy.
We felt the service could have been a lot friendlier and were astonished to see the manager correct one of her employees in front of us customers, something I feel is embarrassing to us and demoralising to the staff member. She did this while failing to even acknowledge us standing in front of the counter. Perhaps she was having a bad day as during my many previous visits I had never seen this attitude before.
Sassy’s used to be a favourite of ours and we returned this time round after a long hiatus of more than twelve months. It would have been nice to see a new menu or maybe even just some fresh seasonal specials but unfortunately things haven’t’ changed since our visits some years ago. Although it was good to return, I was left wishing we had stopped in at Toast instead.Like Me on Facebook! Sassy’s on the Swan 171 Riverside Drive, Perth 6000 | (08) 9325 4191 | http://www.sassysontheswan.com.au/ Price: $$$ (All Day Breakfast $12-28) Food: 2.5/5 (GF options, huge serves but needs revamp of menu – hasn’t changed in years) Service: 2.5/5 (owner/manager needs to smile and not discipline staff in front of customers) Ambience: 3/5 (lovely location, could make more use of the view) Drinks: 4/5 (smoothies and coffees excellent) Total: 12/20
It was our last night in Bali and although we had both enjoyed ourselves thoroughly we couldn’t help but feel that we had preferred our recent trips to Thailand. The over commercialised vibe along with the abundance of Australian tourists made our holiday in Bali feel a little bit like we hadn’t actually left Australia. Not that this was necessarily a bad thing, but I do love the experience of being in another country. I guess we shouldn’t really try to compare the two and regardless of their differences I am still looking forward to returning to Bali; perhaps next time we might get a bit off the beaten track.
We set out in a local cab once again and the Boy set my GPS on my phone to record our route. He was determined to prove to me that in order for the driver to justify a larger fare we were about to taken on a more extended journey to our destination. As we got into the cab we requested the driver to set the meter rather than barter with him over a fixed price. We discovered this can be a better way to obtain a more fair charge. On the slow drive south of the island to Rock Bar our driver continued to attempt to convince us of a package price deal where he would wait at the other end and be available to drive us home at the end of the evening. We politely declined his offer and explained we were happy to just hail another cab and use their metered fee also.
By the time we arrived at our destination an hour later he reproached us – obviously being very keen for the return fare and he offered to wait for us for 3000 Rupiah (which is about $3 dollars). At this point we realised we were being stingy mean tourists; the poor man was willing to wait for hours while we ate and drank the evening away for an extra three bucks. Feeling guilty for playing the hard arse we agreed as we pulled up at the busy hotel foyer.
To get to Rock Bar you must walk through the large Ayana resort to the edge of the cliff face and then board a tiny cable car that takes you about 50 metres down the cliff to the bar. I recommend you arrive with plenty of time before sunset to avoid the queues to get in. We chose one of the lounges facing the water, kicked off our shoes and sunk back to soak up the sun.
Because there is no kitchen at Rock Bar all the food is pre-prepared and I was so disappointed to be told that there are absolutely no gluten free options on their menu at all. We were both hungry so you can imagine my food envy as I watched the Boy tuck into his wedges and curly fries. It was some consolation to me to hear that the wedges were dry, thin and flavourless, and the curly fries tasted like they came out of a frozen packet. To make matters worse, only tiny serves of sauce accompanied the dry potato meaning it didn’t sound like I missed out on much.
As I basked in the warmth of the sun like a cat I sipped on my “Rockito” and realised that even without some nibbles to eat life was pretty good. The Boy wasn’t enjoying the sun quite as much as I was and tried to hide behind what little shade he could find cast by my shadow. My first Rockito came out with mostly ice and only about an inch of drink in the bottom meaning it only took me minutes before I had guzzled it down. I ensured to give more explicit directions to our waiter how I wanted my subsequent drinks to be served and from then on they were made to perfection, with just enough of a hint of sugar without being too overpoweringly sweet.
After several rounds of drinks I was beginning to think my stomach had started to digest itself in protest of my hunger. We moved further down the cliff face to the restaurant on the beach called Kisik. A word of advice for the ladies: don’t wear your high heels here as the restaurant is literally on the beach and your stilettos won’t take kindly to sinking into the sand! The location and view are fantastic affording great photo opportunities as the sun slowly sinks into the sea as you are surrounded by glowing bamboo torches.
Kisik offers a variety of fresh seafood displayed on a bed of ice for you to pick and hand to the chef who cooks it for you just how you like it. Lobster, prawn, seasonal fish, oysters and clams you name it; if it’s caught locally it is likely to be available fresh off the boat and nearly moving. In fact the lobsters were still actually alive and I felt pangs of guilt for the poor creatures as we selected which one we were soon to devour.
As part of the meal you are served two entrees consisting of an Indonesian Gado gado salad followed by a Jimbaran styled Bouillabaisse. My Gado gado salad was altered slightly to accommodate for my allergies which by the way the chef found to be no problem.
Our soup tasted similar to a Tom Yum style hot and sour soup and was refreshing and light. Perfect to commence our seafood feast that we had selected as in true form we had gone overboard and ordered quite a lot!
Our first choice was some beautiful looking King prawns and although they were ridiculously priced, nearly more than what we paid at Rottnest last year, they looked so tempting that we just couldn’t resist. It was worth it! They were cooked simply with some garlic butter and lemongrass and were very fresh, crunchy and mouth-wateringly juicy.
For our next course we had selected some local clams which the chef made into a very tasty soup with fresh lime and coriander in a white wine reduction. It reminded me a little of the clam soup we had some time ago at Rockpool and was comparably delicious.
Our last course was the one I really was waiting for. Steamed rock lobster cooked Indonesia style with tofu, chilli and garlic. To my extreme disappointment the lobster was overcooked and rubbery tough. What a sad way to end an otherwise wonderful meal!
Upon our return to Seminyak we realised that our poor driver had spent a total of three hours waiting for us and a further two hours driving. Now we really felt like the mean stingy tourists so in order to both appease our guilt and show our appreciation we gave him a generous tip as we alighted at our hotel Villa Air Bali.
Overall both Rock Bar and Kisik are experiences not to be missed on a trip to Bali, expect to pay near Perth prices, but for the location, service and ambience it was totally worth it.
Travelling to Bali? Be sure to check out the Lonely Planet Bali and Lombok Travel Guide before you go!
Like Me on Facebook!Rock Bar and Kisik @ Ayana Resort Jl. Karang Mas Sejahtera, Jimbaran, Bali 80364, Indonesia | (+62) 361 702222 | Rock Bar | Kisik Price: $$$$$ (Live Rock Lobster AUD$185/kg, King Prawns AUD$145, Oysters AUD$4/piece!!) Includes tax, service charges and two entrees, using current $1=R9166 Food: 3/5 (Rock Bar – needs GF options, Kisik – amazing meal until our overcooked lobster arrived) Service: 5/5 (could not fault them – full of smiles) Ambience: 5/5 (waves lapping on the rocks below you, setting sun, fresh sea air = awesome) Drinks: 3.5/5 (great variety of cocktails) Total: 16.5/20
I hadn’t seen my Bestie since our last outing together a few weeks ago when we went hunting for my wedding dress. Once we finally did manage to meet up, we had so much to catch up on that it was hard to know where to start. I was excited to hear all about her new yoga business venture that she was embarking upon. I have never seen her so inspired and passionate about something before and it makes me so happy that she has found her calling in life. Not everyone gets to experience such satisfaction.
Late last year during the whole post-Engagement party debacle we stopped in at The Sentinel for a couple of drinks while we were waiting for The George’s manager to get back to us with the whereabouts of my iPod. In sharp contrast to the abrupt, unfriendly service we had received only minutes before at The George; the Sentinel staff all greeted us cheerily as we entered. This jovial attitude left a lasting impression on our memories.
Recalling our previous experience, we decided to return back for a quick lunch in between errands in the city. The Sentinel is owned by Stephen Scaffidi who also owns the popular Bar One. Sentinel’s dining areas are stunning, sophisticated and oh so suave – I simply love all that dark polished wood and massively high ceilings. Initially when the restaurant first opened early 2011 they received a scathing review by The Australian’s veteran food critic John Lethlean. John scored them a measly 1 out of 5. Luckily for them since then it appears they have picked up their game receiving much better recent reports in local restaurant reviews and blog posts.
We bubbled in to the swanky restaurant chitty chatting away like only besties can. Over the moon to be having some quality “bestie-time” as we like to call it we were determined to make the most of this quick and impromptu catch up. I hadn’t called in advance to notify the chef of my allergies and so I was prepared to be given limited choices off their menu. To my surprise, our waiter and the kitchen worked together to provide us with a number of options to choose from and were not bothered at the potential nuisance of my requests.
As we waited for our food to arrive, our waiter brought to the table some complimentary, freshly toasted gluten free bread with whipped butter. This is not something that happens often and I was suitably impressed. As it was only a Monday afternoon, we both initially hesitated as we gazed over the wine list until we saw some champagne and from then on our rubber arms didn’t need any twisting. Glasses of Mumm champagne in hand we settled in quickly and managed to cover a lot of conversational ground in a short space of time, spanning from weddings to people management through to newsletter writing and coconut water! (Which by the way I am totally addicted to at the moment.)
Kate and I planned to share a few entrees together and seeing as I didn’t get the quinoa dish I wanted recently at Cullen Wines I was keen to try The Sentinel’s version. Kate has been a fan of quinoa for years and has been trying to convince me how awesome it is for some time. It was served with roasted beetroot and dollops of tangy smoked goat’s cheese perched on top of some pickled radish. I am starting to understand what she has been going on about – if prepared with the right foods it is a lovely treat. I did however struggle to taste the smoky notes of the goat’s cheese, they were too subtle.
We also ordered the marinated octopus served with julienned carrot and fennel with a fresh lemony chilli dressing. The octopus was lovely and soft without any chewiness. My only gripe was the serving size – way too small for something this tasty (and for the price I guess)!
For our third dish we chose the steak tartare. This is something I have enjoyed a number of times at Rockpool and been blown away every time with its buttery texture and gentle flavours. Recently the Boy and I have been part-time vegetarians so it actually felt a little odd if not a bit scary to eat this dish once again. To make matter less palatable the meat wasn’t quite as fresh as I would prefer if raw. The crisp and peppery watercress helped somewhat to disguise the tainted flavour of the meat.
The potato chips served with this dish were nothing like what we were expecting. I was anticipating some frites, something I consider a classic combination with steak tartare. Instead there were a neat stack of potato crisps. They were cut incredibly paper-thin to the point of being translucent but unfortunately they tasted like stale oil and not much else. This potentially amazing but simple dish was very poorly executed.
Overall our lunch was enjoyable but with a few hits and misses and I would be keen to go back to sample a greater selection of their food in order get a better idea on their overall quality. The service was friendly and efficient and I look optimistically to my next visit.
Like Me on Facebook!Sentinel Bar and Grill 111 St Georges Terrace, Perth 6000 | (08) 6103 0507 | http://www.sentinelbar.com.au/ Price: $$$$ (Entrees/snacks $4.50-21.50, Mains $26.5-45) Food: 2.5/5 (raw meat has got to be fresh) Service: 3.8/5 (brilliant and enthusiastic) Ambience: 4.5/5 (lovely warm décor, very swanky feel to it) Drinks: 4.5/5 (extensive and interesting wine list) Total: 15.3/20
The recent plethora of online voucher deals has meant that even those on a budget can eat out on a regular basis for a considerably reduced cost. These experiences can tend to be a bit of hit and miss however and I have found that it pays to do your research on the restaurant prior to purchasing. Ultimately at the end of the day you get what you pay for and if your voucher only cost you fifty bucks for a two course meal for two people, don’t expect them to be cracking out the lobster and caviar! What I really like about these vouchers is that they often take you to establishments you never would have thought to eat at which can lead to some great discoveries.
I was recently given a Spreets voucher for Volcanic Stone Grill and Cafe in East Perth which included a two course meal for two. Before booking a table, I went onto Urbanspoon to see what sort of feedback other diners had given on their experiences there. The general consensus of the reviews was quite negative ranging from gripes about the service and attitude of staff right through to the poor quality of the food.
Do you remember what my awesome birthday gift from the Boy was? It was a fighter combat flight for two with Fighter Combat International. We each went up into the clear blue sky with our own pilots in CJ-6A Chinese Nanchang fighter planes and had an adrenaline filled mock fight in the sky! The day was absolutely perfect for it with clear blue skies across the full horizon. Before our skirmish our pilots show us each a series of acrobatic manoeuvres subjecting us to 4G force pressures while flipping and spinning us about in the air like a bird. It was such an incredible experience and for anyone who loved Top Gun it is a must do for your bucket list!
We headed out for dinner later that evening with our heads still spinning around and doing imaginary loop the loops. I had called in advance to find out they are BYO so we arrived well prepared with wine and beer in hand. The place was fully booked with tables both inside and out. It was a chilly night so I was glad to be shown to our table situated inside. The restaurant was starkly lit with fluorescent lighting and decorated with plastic plants and our rickety table wobbled on its hinges. Not really the most romantic or cosy place to go for dinner! However thankfully after the buzz of the experience up in the air neither of us minded the lack of surrounding atmosphere this time. On entering there was a faint smell of tainted meat in the air that was a little unpleasant but with a bit of time my sense of smell adjusted and the smell became less pungent.
We started with the Volcanic tasting plate which wasn’t included in our voucher. The plate normally comes with Turkish bread but as I requested gluten free this was replaced with a small serve of fries. The plate had a combination of a variety of meats accompanied with a hot “volcanic” stone which you cook your own meat on.
The meat was fairly average quality and without any oil to put on the stone it stuck during cooking. This was especially a problem with the chicken which had to be scraped off making it shred a little. We also found the heat of the stone dissipated too quickly and our last pieces of meat cooked quite slowly. Nevertheless it was a bit of fun cooking the meat together and was a definite novelty at the dinner table.
We both chose the Mix grill for our main dish. This dish contained single portions of beef fillet, chicken tenderloin, pork fillet & lamb with a field mushroom. Without a voucher, this dish would normally be priced at a fairly hefty $32.90. Not exactly value for money but I think the voucher was priced at $50 so for two mains and two desserts this makes it very good value. This dish was brought out with the meat already placed on the stone meaning that it was cooked before the stone’s heat subsided.
There were only limited choices for dessert as some of the menu had been blacked out with texta. We both chose the vanilla ice cream – mine with gummy bears and the Boy’s with choc chips. I thought the gummy bears were a cute touch but with only five gummy bears placed on my cold stone I thought this was a bit stingy. The ice cream was a little icy and tasted like the mass produced commercial stuff, no Connoisseur served here!
Overall we found our dining experience to be satisfactory. We arrived at the restaurant assuming that if the reviews I read where anything to go by we would receive poor service, horrible food and walk away disappointed. The reality was that although English did not appear to be the wait staff’s first language we were served promptly and without fuss. Our food was more than edible and I like the concept of the stone for something different. If we had not arrived with a voucher deal I would have been very reluctant to pay their menu prices however thanks to the voucher it worked out to be excellent value.
Like Me on Facebook!Volcanic Stone Grill and Café Shop 25, 60 Royal Street, East Perth 6004 | (08) 9221 1363 Price: $$$$ (Entrée $15-27, Mains $29-45: Without a voucher this place is WAY overpriced) Food: 5.5/10 (great novelty idea would be better with quality meat cuts) Service: 2.5/5 (no fuss but no frills) Ambience: 1.5/5 (fairly absent) Drinks: N/A – BYO Total: 9.5/20