Part One: Finalising our Phuket Wedding Preparations!
Prior to getting engaged I often toyed around in my head with the idea of eloping off to somewhere exotic. Like many people I have a divided family with my real parents and my respective step parents not exactly being the best of friends. Having to brave getting all these loved ones in the same room sounded like a daunting feat and one that could prove best to avoid. Our engagement party at The George provided me with a safe way to test the waters and despite all the anxiety and tension in the build-up to the evening along with very disappointing customer service from the George’s staff; everyone managed to get along wonderfully. In fact we all had an absolute ball. It dawned upon me that I should give my family much more credit.
As with all brides, the last few months before our big day flew past at the speed of light. No day seemed long enough and I forgot what it was like to relax. Some may say I got a bit pedantic about details however I prefer to see it as purely just ensuring everything was done properly and thoroughly. Consequently, despite previously being so paranoid that I wouldn’t be elegantly slim enough, in the last few weeks before the big day I could barely keep weight on for all the running around I did.
Our wedding invitations were designed by Jessica, one of the lovely designers at Annie P Paperie. My theme if you can call it that was “simple elegance”. I didn’t want any froo-froo, lace, feathers or glitter and opted for letter pressed stationary instead. Following with the Thai theme they designed me a simple “logo” of orchids intertwining gracefully around the edge of the page. I used this design throughout our wedding; on our invites, personalised canvas tote bags used for the welcome gifts, small gift note pads, menus and name place cards. The orchid design was sent to the Bella Figura in New York where they used antique cast iron presses to make the invitations the old-fashioned way.
After visiting many different resorts in Phuket during our previous trip in November 2011, we both agreed unanimously that Andara was the place of our dreams. Andara has two accommodation options in its expansive resort; they have massive privately owned villas perched up high on the mountains and then they also offer smaller, apartment style residences lower down the scarp by the beach.
Both are managed by the hotel and ooze luxury and attention to detail. We arrived about five days prior to all our wedding guests and initially stayed in one of their residences for a few days before moving into the opulent villa with our bridal party. Although the residences do not quite have the wow factor of the villa, each is still appointed with great care and attention. We were lucky enough to get upgraded to a pool residence for these few days and on arrival received a bottle of champagne on ice.
Each residence has its own fully equipped kitchen, full sized fridge and all the utensils you would ever need while on holiday. Not that we did any cooking. For four days we busied ourselves organising welcome packs, choosing wedding music, practising our dance and finishing off all the important little wedding details whilst the hotel’s room service kept us well fed. The kitchen went above and beyond to diligently ensure all my allergies were strictly catered for without sacrificing on taste.
Breakfast for the residence guests is served at the hotel’s only restaurant Silk. They provide a combination of a continental style buffet coupled with a freshly cooked hot meal off their al la carte menu. Every morning the food and beverage manager would come over to our table and reassure me that my gluten free bread and muffins along with my hot meal was on its way. The gluten free muffins were sweet, coconutty and fluffy light and I had to stop myself from eating them all each morning. They were served warm and spread generously with Lescure butter they were close to heaven.
If I hadn’t already had my socks knocked off by the impressiveness of our wedding villa then the Andara residences would have had the same effect. However I knew we were soon to move into even bigger and better lodgings and the beauty of our suite was somewhat lost on me. Looking back now on our stay there I can appreciate what stunning accommodation it was and for a couple travelling on their own the suites are a more affordable way to stay at Andara.
In my next Wedding blog post I will take you through our breath taking Villa where overlooking the Andaman Sea the Boy and I declared our vows to the world and became husband and wife!
For all my Phuket Wedding related posts click hereAndara Resort and Villas 15 Moo 6, Kamala Beach, Kathu, Phuket 83150, Thailand
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
Do you remember when we celebrated our Engagement Party late last year at The George?
Although everyone had a fabulous evening, our night was tainted by some terribly rude attitudes and comments coming from the bar staff upon our departure from the venue. To make matters worse, they then refused to call us any taxis and left us standing outside the hotel well into the wee hours of the morning.
In the course of the following few weeks I tried via various methods to speak with one of the managers in order to retrieve my iPod that I left at the venue. After weeks of her avoiding my contact (including refusing to meet me as I stood outside the venue) it was too late and the iPod was nowhere to be found. I wrote a formal letter of complaint to the Venue Manager detailing all my grievances. I thought some of you may be interested in reading their reply…..
I was extremely disappointed to receive your email late last week. We do value all of the feedback receive both the positive and the occasional feedback that gives the venue something to improve on or fix.
I can appreciate that this has been a frustrating experience for yourself and I would like to thank you for allowing me the time to investigate and ensure that I could get to the bottom of the issues you raised. I have spoken to all the staff members and managers working that night and Katie prior to her leaving on annual leave. I went through your email with them high raised the various matters and got their view as to what happened.
The staff members that were working that evening were spoken to about the profanities that your guests believed were directed at them. They all claim that they did not say anything inappropriate towards your guests, however I have reiterated to all staff members and the management team how unprofessional and inappropriate that kind of behaviour is and that it will not be tolerated here at The George.
In regards to your guests being asked to vacate the venue, Liquor licencing laws state we have to have all patrons off the premises within 15 minutes of our closing time, we have no control or any flexibility with this. Both the managers on duty and the venue are liable for fines if this does not occur, hence why at 1230 your guests who were still on the premise, in breach of our liquor licence, were asked to leave the premises immediately.
I spoken to the manager who was on duty that evening and he reassured me that he did in fact call for taxis for yourself and for your party. However, I do know from past experience that calling for a taxi to the premises often takes significantly longer than both hailing one from the street or walking across the road to the taxi rank. Whilst I can appreciate that two people from your party were unable to make their way down to the taxi rank, I can say that taxis were indeed called. When speaking to the manager on duty, I brought to his attention the importance of tone and delivery and how it can affect the impression left of people and that he needs to be aware of this.
The London Room is open to both tenants of the building and their guests when not booked by The George, and is left unlocked and fully accessible from the foyer of the building. In the three weeks between your function and your email advising of the lost iPod, the room was open and many functions were held in it, functions that were not just booked by The George but also by building tenants who have full access to the room and its facilities, including the Audio Visual system located in the cupboard where the iPod was left. Therefor I cannot say if the iPod was still there when you sent you email three weeks after the function, as we were unaware of its presence.
I have spoke to Katie and she said that she did make several unsuccessful attempts to contact you by phone after your initial email before contacting you via email. I will have a meeting with her when she returns and talk about the length of time it took you to get a response from her and highlight the need to respond promptly to enquiries, especially when it relates to missing property.
I have brought up all of your feedback at our regular management meeting and we have introduced steps to ensure that, in future there are no repeats of your negative experience at The George.
I hope that you will give the venue the opportunity to live up to the high standards for both the food and service they we are know for. With that in mind I would like to offer you a $200 voucher for dinner at The George. If you could please provide me with a suitable postal address I will arrange for the voucher to be sent to you.
If you could contact me directly when you would like to redeem the voucher I can ensure that you have the proper George Experience.
We look forward to seeing you soon.
Venue Manager” (name withheld)
Unbelievable. This is how the manager and his staff choose to resolve this issue: deny, deny deny. Since that night, nearly everyone of my friends have come up to me individually with their own story about something the staff said or did to them. But surely the more likely truthful story is that all 70 of my guests and I would make all these elaborate details up? How insulting. I am not perfect but I am in no way a liar!
And as for their offer of a dinner voucher? After making such a complaint the LAST thing I wanted to do was return to their restaurant to eat their food!!! Cripes. If they were quite happy to blatantly lie to their boss regarding the true events of the evening, I would hate to think was they might do to my food! Thanks but no thanks! Considering the very hefty bill we had at the end of the party an offer of some sort of partial refund would have been more appropriate. Especially when I emailed him to decline his voucher offer.
Since then, it has amused me to note the number of excessively positive reviews on Urbanspoon for both The George and their sister venue The Aviary. Most of these reviewers have never written anything else. With the collection of top-notch eateries opening up along the Terrace this year, I have a sneaking feeling that if The George don’t get their act together and actually start listening to their customers; they may be in for a nasty shock!
Read my original Post: The George and Our Engagement Party
Like Me on Facebook!The George 216 St Georges Terrace, London House, Perth 6000 | (08) 6161 6662 | www.thegeorgeperth.com.au/
As a thoughtful engagement present to us from one of our friends we were given a dinner voucher from Our Deal at Celyta’s Cuisine in Midland. Our friend had done her research and chosen this restaurant based on a great Urbanspoon rating and a wide range of gluten free options on their menu. Having just returned from Bali and a little on the broke side it was so good to be able to go out for a meal where everything was already paid for!
In keeping with our usual tradition of eating out, we like to visit another venue before dinner for some pre-dinner drinks so off we headed to The Principal Brewing Company. Our voucher at Celyta’s included a two course meal for two; either entrée and main, or main and dessert. So upon arriving to the pub we decided it would be a great idea to have some pre-dinner snacks to accompany our drinks.
We ordered some salt and pepper calamari which the kitchen was happy to grill without the flour dusting to make them gluten-free for us. The Boy also ordered some beer battered chips. The calamari was disappointingly tough and chewy but was a decent sized serve for an entrée. The chilli aioli reminded me of Nando’s Perinaise– which isn’t actually such a bad thing as I LOVE that stuff!
The beer battered chips were really crispy and the serve was huge considering we both had another two courses to get through. As they were beer battered I have to presume they were not gluten-free so I tried to resist eating any while I watched the Boy eagerly devouring his way through them. I was absolutely starving and hearing each crunch felt like torture so I ended up caving and helped him finish off the bowl. This was a stupid mistake because on the way home later that night I was in agony!! If you are not gluten intolerant however I highly recommend these chips – they were really good!
After we polished off our “snacks” we headed off in the direction of Celyta’s on foot. Just as we set off the rain started to speckle onto us but lucky for us it didn’t start a summer downpour until just after we arrived at the restaurant. The restaurant is BYO so I had stopped at the Bottle shop on the way and bought a bottle of Chapman Grove Chardonnay. This wine is from the Margaret River region and was quite light and fruity with a hint of oak.
I had pre-warned the staff about my dietary requirements a few weeks prior when I called up to make our reservation. I reminded the waiter as we were ordering to which he replied that nearly all the dishes are gluten free but there are only a couple that are onion free. He recommended that I order the Portuguese style steak. I was keen to try this as I vaguely recalled a Portuguese steak traditionally having an egg cracked on top of it while it’s on the grill? Being a big egg fan, this idea quite excited me although I didn’t see any mention of egg on the menu.
My steak came out not quite like I expected. The fatty cut of sirloin was drowned in a thick pepper sauce and there were paperweight sized chunks of prosciutto balancing on top. I had never seen such thick slices of prosciutto and they were extremely tough to eat. The steak was cooked rare as I had requested. The steak was surrounded like a clock face with medallions of potato that tasted like they had been frozen and reheated. Some of the slices had a leathery brown discolouration I can only presume was due to freezer burn.
The Boy ordered surf and turf – not exactly a traditional Portuguese dish either. His steak was also cooked rare to his liking but it was fattier than mine. It was served with some plain boiled rice, a small handful of chips and a pile of coleslaw. I always thought coleslaw was more of a Dutch dish? His chips also had some freezer burn on them.
Our dessert was a curious combination of a crème brûlée and a crème caramel all kind of rolled into one dessert. Seeing as these two desserts are particular favourites of mine I wasn’t really one to complain. Instead of caramelising the surface of the dish with a flame, it appeared that the chef had made some toffee and poured it on top of the custard. This resulted in a near tooth chipping layer of rock hard sugar to crack through. Underneath the custard was a little on the lumpy side and at the bottom of the glass was the runny layer of caramel pooling at the bottom. Totally edible but certainly not mind-blowing.
We still had a great night out regardless and are grateful for this gift, however it is very unlikely we will return to Celyta’s again. As I am frequently in the Midland area for business meetings, I will continue to return to the Principal as they are by far and by large the best pub in the area.Follow Me on Facebook! The Principal Brewing Company 23 Cale Street, Midland 6056 | (08) 9250 2995 | www.theprincipal.com.au Price: $$$$ (Light menu $9-27, Mains $24-34) Food: 2.5/5 (generally average food but better than other pubs in the area) Service: 3/5 (relaxed and friendly) Ambience: 2.5/5 (not very inviting, cold and stark) Drinks: 2.5/5 (small wine list) Total: 10.5/20 Celyta’s Cuisine 30 The Crescent, Midland 6056 | (08) 9274 8318 | celytascuisine.drupalgardens.com Price: $$$$ (Entrees $14, Mains $17-40) Food: 2/5 (very average considering menu prices) Service: 3/5 (a little slow but friendly enough) Ambience: 2/5 (brightly lit) Drinks: 2.5/5 (BYO, serves hot coffee) Total: 9.5/20
What a blissful and sunny start to our day! Starting off with a delicious brunch at the Greenhouse with my family and the boy, the morning got even better when Dad gave me a generously sized suitcase filled to the brim with beautiful Robert Robert and Diavolina shoes. Most importantly, the suitcase contained some super-hot shoes for the party tonight! I headed home with my love to spend the afternoon preparing ourselves to look our very best for the big party. One of my bridesmaids, Amber was so kind to offer to go The George without me earlier in the afternoon so she could set up everything for the night. This meant all I would have to do would be to arrive on time! She is such an angel!
The afternoon flew by surprisingly quickly and before I knew it we only had a short time until things were due to kick off!! I slipped on my shimmering Alannah Hill dress matched with the cutest flower headband, kicked on my most awesome shoes from Dad and jumped in the cab hand in hand with the boy!
Upon our arrival my heart sunk for a brief second as I expected to walk into an ambient lit room and instead was nearly blinded by bright ugly fluoro lighting. I subsequently found that some of Amber’s instructions she had carefully given to the staff about setting up the lighting, heating and visual equipment had not been followed through. Consequently some further little instructions were given to the function staff and they slowly assisted us without an accompanying smile. Not that anything could take the wind out of our wings! Grabbing a quick round of pre-party G&T’s, we all felt our nerves settle ready to greet all the special people in our lives that would join us for our celebrations.
Amber is a very creative person – something my scientific brain is most definitely not – so when she suggested we have a lolly bar at the party I initially struggled to visualise what she actually meant. We had shopped all around town together in the weeks prior to the party buying a collection of gorgeous vintage vases and bowls that she filled to the brim with lots of colourful sweets. It looked fantastic! The boy wasted no time getting stuck into the assortment, tossing handfuls of lollies into his mouth for a strong pre-party sugar kick.
Before guests had even started to arrive, the waitresses started bringing out plate upon plate of turkish bread with dips to scatter around the tables. I rushed up to the waitresses and advised them stop them filling up two little cocktail tables with plates of food and to try and stagger them a bit with the arrival of our guests. The food provided was delicious – a part of me wishes I had stopped talking and mingling among everyone for two seconds to be able to snap some photos, but it didn’t even cross my mind until the following day! I guess us food bloggers should be allow a night off once in a while! The selected canapés including freshly shucked oysters, spring onion aranchini, lamb koftas, sun-dried tomato and asparagus tarts and a variety of sushi rolls. The special gluten-free options included five spiced duck pieces – amazingly succulent little cubes of meat marinated in a sweet chilli caramel sauce. I’m sure I must have greedily gobbled a number of those!
A major feature of the night was the amazing efforts of two of my guests (one of those being Amber) in joining forces together to bake enough cupcakes for seventy people with a third of the cupcakes gluten-free! They sparkled glamorously in the centre of the lolly bar and almost looked too good to eat! Being able to enjoy devouring cupcakes with everyone else at the end of the night was such a treat although the way I stuffed the butter cream frosting into my mouth may not have been so nice!
The highlight of the night to me and my sister was surprisingly not food related. My Mum and stepmum have not spoken words since over twenty years ago when Mum and Dad separated. We have all accepted this and our family events have always been planned separately to accommodate for this. So when I looked over and saw my Dad arm in arm with my dearest Mum on one side and his wife on the other my eyes started to burn hot. My sister came running over to me in amazement and we shared watching this special moment together before flicking away our tears of joy.
Toward the end of the night I wanted everyone to be able to have something more substantial than just the canapés so we arranged for some noodle boxes to come out with sticky pork with ginger, chilli and bok choy. The pork was so scrumptiously juicy and the sticky marinade had nearly caramelised but not burnt. This was the most popular food for the night and I’m sure I saw a few people go back for a second box!
As with all good parties, the night flew by at the speed of light and before I knew it we were standing under those hideous bright fluoros with the reality that it was over. All those weeks of preparation and anticipation for a night that felt like it only lasted one hour! I was extremely chuffed to see that our budgeted bar tab lasted for the whole night and no one had to dip into their pockets to pay for a drink.
After such a fabulous occasion, the events that followed on next totally took me by surprise. Bear in mind that the venue was nearly empty in the main bar for the whole night so our party of 70 people would have been the only real income for the night for The George. As we were all slowly drifting out of the function area and leaving through the main bar a couple of the bar staff got annoyed with us not leaving quickly enough for them. As they walked past the bar, a number of my guests clearly overheard the staff retorting insults and foul language directed at us presumably because they wanted to us to hurry up so they could go home. None of my guests were unpleasant or rude to any of the staff to call for this attack.
We all waited outside The George for what felt like hours all trying desperately to hail cabs. One of my friends had taken a bit of a stack on the pavement and had developed a very swollen ankle (she actually ended up in RPH early that following morning poor thing) so I wanted to get her home quickly. I was also mindful that my dearest mother was keen to get home as she is not accustomed to standing up in her high heels for hours on end anymore. I went back to the front door of the hotel and knocked to get someone’s attention. All the staff were still inside closing up everything for the night. I asked the bartender if he could kindly please arrange us some cabs for us as my friend was injured and many others were tired and ready to hit the sack. He refused and told me to walk down the street to the closest hotel the Hilton where apparently I could find many taxis. I explained to him my friend was injured and couldn’t walk, he then repeated that he wouldn’t call us cabs, and that was that! He closed the door in my face and locked the door!!
After spending thousands of dollars at their venue that night I was completely gobsmacked at such rudeness and appalling service. Despite the actual night being such a wonderful success, it was so disappointing to end on such a sour and unprofessional note.Price: $$$ (Entree $18-21, Mains $25-39) Food: 7.6/10 Service: 3/10 (for the rudeness!) Venue: 4/5 Total: 14.6/25 (58%)
Well, things have gone from bad to worse with the level of customer service that I have received from The George. We left my old iPod touch there on the night of the party and since then I had attempted to contact the functions manager by phone and email to let her know that I would be popping back to collect it on my day off. As I had received no reply, I figured that it’s not too complicated a request to fill so I went into town on my only day off to collect it.Upon arrival my bestie and I spoke to the bartender who explained to us in a curt manner that I needed to speak to her manager. She got her bar manager who happened to be very same person who had bad mouthed to my friends and refused to call us cabs on the night.
I started to explain to him that I had left my iPod behind and had tried to contact the functions manager but had received no reply from her. I purely just wanted to collect my iPod and that was it. He fobbed us off saying that the functions manager was in a meeting and that she couldn’t be disturbed. So I offered to go into the cupboard in the functions room myself to collect it upon which I was then told that she was having the meeting in there so this wasn’t possible. He said to us: “And that’s if you actually have left it here.” If?!?! He offered to call me in an hour when she would be finished her meeting but then uttered that she could be in there for hours so who knows how long she would really be.
My bestie and I popped down the road to the Sentinel for a drink (where the service by the way was very friendly – a total contrast). During this time we received no phone calls from The George. So after one hour we left and made our way back to The George. On my way I called through and asked to be put through to the functions manager, consequently I was put through straight away implying that her meeting was over. She then proceeded to tell me she had no time to walk to the cupboard where I left my iPod and retrieve it for me as she was far too busy! I explained that it was my only day off, I had come into the city specifically and I was 50 metres away! She repeated to me: “I have absolutely no time to search for it, I am very busy and that’s provided you have actually left it here anyway!” She said she would try and call me back by the end of business – it’s now been nearly a week and not a peep!
So it’s been a number of months since all this happened and I thought I better give you dear readers a final report on the outcome with The George…..click to read my Epilogue.The George 216 St Georges Terrace, London House, Perth 6000 | (08) 6161 6662 | www.thegeorgeperth.com.au/
My sister has never been known for her punctuality. That’s not to say I’m an expert in such matters myself however she does tend to take it to the next level. I guess I wasn’t considering this fact when I decided it was a great idea to book an elegant dinner at Fraser’s for the boy and myself, my sister, Dad and our stepmum for the very next day after our Engagement party. We had spent the bulk of the day nursing sore heads and rumbling tummies and feeling the foggy effects of overindulgence and sleep deprivation. So when I saw it was only thirty minutes before our departure time and that she still had not started to get ready for our special dinner I prepared myself again for a late arrival. Surprisingly she managed to get beautified in a whirlwind of hair straighteners and outfit changes for us to arrive an acceptable 20 minutes late. A record for us as a team I’m sure and it makes me wonder why it normally takes her three and a half hours to get ready?!?
My stepmum has never been to Perth before so I wanted to show her the fabulous view of the city at night from King’s Park. Fraser’s offers spectacular views from the restaurant and it seemed like a logical choice. If you exclude a couple of veterinary functions sponsored by drug companies I haven’t actually eaten here in the restaurant before. Such events generally involve far too much wine and networking for the food to even make a mention.
When we arrived at the Duxton for a few pre-dinner drinks, I was relieved to see the little blue bag containing our shiny gift from Tiffany’s had made the journey from The George where it was initially given to us both as our engagement gift, then returned back to their hotel room for the night only to be handed over to us a second time but in a much more sober fashion. As I pulled it out of its box I couldn’t help but admire its shininess. It is a classic Tiffany’s style silver frame which we shall be placing one of the many gorgeous shots of us as a newly engaged couple from the memorable night.
For the duration of our evening, we were all blown away with the high quality of service. Our waiter for the evening named Justin went above and beyond his call of duty to ensure that our every whim was accommodated for. This flexibility and can-do attitude carried right through to the kitchen where the chef Chris Taylor and his team were more than happy to alter dishes and suggest alternative options for us rather than just omitting sauces or key ingredients and serving us half of the intended dish. (See my next review on Clarence’s for a comparison!)
Justin informed us that the chef makes his own gluten-free bread on the premises and recommended we try a couple of serves. It was accompanied by some Baba ghanoush topped with a sprinkling of Dukkah and some fresh butter. It was grainy bread with good texture – poorly made gluten-free bread can turn out very crumbly like cake or worse still very heavy and stodgy like a rock. This bread had just the right balance of flours to create normal bread-like consistency and was matched well with the Baba ghanoush. The only downside which we discovered at the end of the meal was it cost $14 per serve! We got two serves!!
For entrée my sister and I ordered the Grilled WA rock lobster which was served the only way lobster should be; simply with lemon butter. Lobster is one of my favourite seafood creatures to eat, and its unique sweet flavour is often spoilt by complex creamy sauces and heavy cheese. This time round it was fresh and cooked just to perfection, the meat easily tearing delicately away out of its shell and into my mouth!
The boy is a huge sashimi and sushi fan. He has been known to journey over to Kailis Bros Fish Market in Leederville, bypass all the little packets of pre-prepared sashimi cuts of fish and buy a big chunk of tuna and an even bigger chunk of salmon and proudly carve it up at home for us to eat. The sashimi he ordered was brightly coloured and soft and the size of his serve was reasonable given the location and the price. I did think the Fraser’s card on the top of the dish was a little touristy and tacky however.
My Dad wanted the “Soft crab shell” as he called it (we were all still a little exhausted from the night of fun last night) which was only available as part of the tasting plate of the day. Once again the kitchen was very accommodating and was happy to offer this separately as an entrée sized meal. Such an easy task for a kitchen to do yet this is often something that is refused to customers as chefs allow themselves to become nothing more than a line cook preparing meals without alterations. Having eaten his way around the world hundreds of times over the past years, my French-born father is a natural food critic. He was impressed with the amount of meat on the crab and seemed to enjoy it thoroughly.
My stepmum ordered the crab soup which was vibrantly coloured, thick and creamy. Despite all of us commenting our appetites were a little depressed from the evening prior we all managed to gobble up our entrees without complaint ready for our mains.
For mains I ordered the duck which is originally served with a beetroot jus. As with most jus, there was onion contained in the stock so it was not suitable for me or my sister. To our delight this was no problem to our chef who created delicious gluten-free, onion-free brandy butter jus to pour over the duck instead. Both my sister and the boy also ordered the duck and commented to me that a few of their pieces were a little overcooked and dry. I must have been the lucky one at the table as every piece of my duck was juicy and scrumptious and I could not complain.
Our side dishes were fairly standard and unexciting except for the salt roasted potatoes which looked a little bit like the eggs from the movie Aliens but they tasted absolutely divine. As we watched the smoke from a bushfire roll in over the city like a blanket we all started to infect each other with our yawns. We realised just how exhausted we all were and skipped ordering dessert to head home for some well-earned rest.
In my sleepy content state I foolishly left the little blue bag behind at the restaurant and didn’t realise this until the boy shouted as we drove off in the cab: “The Tiffany’s present!!!” My heart literally jumped into my throat and I was completely awake in a second! Before the boy had even managed to jump out of the cab; lo and behold we see Justin our waiter running toward us clutching our treasure in his hand. This gesture just clinched the deal that I’m happy to say this is the best customer service we have received in Perth for a long time! My opinions of Fraser’s have been completely turned around from previously feeling it may be a bit of an overpriced tourist trap to now understanding that you simply get what you pay for. I look forward to our return; we just might have to save up for a while!
Score Food 8.7/10 Service 9.5/10 Venue 8.6/10Fraser’s Restaurant Fraser Avenue, King’s Park, Perth 6005 | (08) 9481 7100 | frasersrestaurant.com.au
It is so exciting to have all my family over in Perth for our engagement party tonight. My Mum and Dad have been divorced since I was a young teenager and so my sister and I have grown accustomed to dividing our time during any major holiday events between each of our parents and their loved ones. Incredibly this party will not only be a first for us all to be together in Perth, but it also will be the first family event that both my parents have attended simultaneously since I was a little child. Understandably I am thrilled to have them all here!
Dad and his wife arrived late the night before so we planned to catch up on the morning of the party for a light brunch and chatter at the Greenhouse. The Greenhouse seems to be a restaurant you either love or you hate. I have eaten here a number of times and have never been disappointed with the food or the service. The bizarre interiors are all made from recycled materials which gives it a real bohemian greenie vibe. Even the light fittings – which look quite spectacular – are actually just made from wound up barbed wire fencing. The meals are served in quirky pieces such as old milk bottles and terracotta plant pots. It definitely is not for everyone, but I love it more and more with each visit.
Last time I came here for breakfast I had wild mushrooms with slow cooked eggs served on my own gluten free bread – it’s such a shame they do not have any gluten free bread available. The mushroom dish was very memorable and I was eager to see if something similar remained on their ever changing seasonal menu. To my exquisite excitement a new version of this dish was on the menu accompanied by their amazingly gooey slow cooked eggs and some grilled polenta. I wasn’t going to need my BYO gluten free bread after all. Everyone at the table except for Dad ordered the mushrooms and none of us were disappointed with our choices. The eggs were perfectly soft and I’m sure there must have been at least four different types of mushrooms in there. As we sat in the fabulous Perth sunshine basking in its therapeutic glow I felt proud to call this city my hometown.
My Dad is a fashion designer for his own shoe label and spends a lot of his time for work in and out of China. So when he saw there was crab congee on the menu it was no surprise to us all when he ordered it for himself. I am yet to decide how I feel about congee; I think it’s my love of eggs for breakfast that always sways me away from choosing to eat it and I always end up opting for ordering a dish with googs instead. I had a little taste of his congee and found the saltiness and texture of the crab gave it that perfect lift, turning it from a potential bland baby food into a filling and delicious meal. Despite this deliciousness, my mushroom addiction overrode any regrets as I quickly devoured my own amazing breakfast and was left wishing the serve was a touch bigger!
After breakfast, I walked back to the car hand in hand with the boy as we both enjoyed the glorious warmth of the sun I could feel it energise me and give me increasing bounce in my stride. We chatted animatedly about our wedding plans for Phuket. By the time we got back to the car I was feeling a little on the ditsy side and I ended up leaving our parking ticket on the boot of the car as we drove off towards the exit. Unable to find the ticket when at the exit, I started to wonder if this beautiful morning was too good to be true and that the party day was destined to be filled with mishaps. We drove back to our original location and the boy started scanning the ground while I rummage through my handbag hastily. But to my surprise and relief there was the paper ticket still sitting there innocently on top of the car boot! We exited the car park without any further drama and made our way back to my Dad’s hotel room where I was spoilt rotten with a whole suitcase of Robert Robert and Diavolina shoes!
Score: Service 7.9/10 Food 9/10 Venue 8.5/10Greenhouse 100 St Georges Terrace, Perth 6000 | (08) 9481 8333 | greenhouseperth.com
The excitement for the upcoming engagement party is escalating. The bubbling began at work with our girlie chitter chatter of our personal shopping expeditions for outfits of which some of us had success in our searches but for others it was still a work in progress. As team work is such a vital element of a well-run veterinary practice we are all quite close friends and any social outing sparks a lot of enthusiasm and animated conversations among us all. This level of excitement has further risen up a notch with the arrival of my darling mother early this week. My Mum is the type of person you will immediately love from the first moment you meet her – even my beauty therapists go on about what a gorgeous person she is! With the early arrival of my sister tomorrow, the three of us decided to pop out for a light meal and the perfect cuisine to fit the bill for this was some delicious Thai!
Dusit Thai is something of an institution in Perth and has been open since 1988. The atmosphere in the restaurant is effortless and comfortable, and its spacious size means it’s never hard to get a table. Having eaten here many times on business dinners I figured it would be a sure-fire way to have an enjoyable and quick meal with my love and my Mum. This would allow us to enjoy our last quiet evening together before the festivities really start to kick in.
Dusit Thai is not the cheapest of Thai restaurants in Perth but I have found they reliably serve delicious meals no matter what I choose to order. They are very flexible with adapting their dishes and have always ensured to make an effort to avoid specific ingredients for me which reveals to me just how fresh each meal that is served is. Prior to our travels to Thailand I created an eating card with my special dietary requirements for gluten-free and fructose friendly written clearly in Thai on one side of the card and in English on the other side. Every time we dined out in Thailand I would show this cute little card to our waitress where it would then proceed to do the round trip from my hand via several waitresses to the kitchen and back to the table. Often it would actually make two trips as all the staff would eagerly want to make sure that I have no problems with my meal. Unfortunately I have to admit that back in Australia; even in Thai restaurants this well-travelled little card hasn’t received such glorified attention. Consequently, it was to my delight that on this night I was reminded of its tour of duty in Thailand as it was escorted on a similar round trip around the restaurant to the kitchen before returning back to me.
The waitresses were genuinely helpful in discussing our choice of dishes for the evening and the chef appeared very flexible in attempting to accommodate my requests whenever he could. We started with my latest Thai favourite; some mixed seafood Tom Yum. This delicious clear spicy and sour soup is such a refreshing way to begin a meal, and if you’re not actually that hungry is enough for a light meal on its own. To my great disappointment, prior to the soup being served our lovely waitress came back to inform me that there actually is a lot of onion used in the stock for the soup. I was recommended to order chicken satay instead. I cannot deny my internal reaction to this was “how boring” but seeing as they had already gone to such great lengths to help me order the rest of the evening’s meals I decided I didn’t want to make any more fuss and just went along with her recommendation.
The Tom Yum was requested to be served mild because both the boy and Mum have delicate palates when it comes to hot and spicy food. Despite this request they both found the soup to be too spicy, so for those who do not like heat in their food I recommend that you make sure to emphasize to your waitress that you want your soup very mild. I had a little taste of the seafood contained in the boy’s soup. As I watched him struggle through the spiciness I became quite jealous as I really enjoyed its tangy sourness and wished I could finish it off for them both. I did notice the soup lacked the rich colour I would expect for Tom Yum however the seafood was soft and not chewy or overcooked. The satay was a delicious surprise. The chicken was juicy and tender, the peanut sauce thick and creamy and the ajat (cucumber relish) took me back to Thailand! Many restaurants here in Perth don’t serve their satay dishes with this traditional yet elegant condiment made from palm sauce, cucumber and coriander. Yum!
The duck larb was a tasty alternative to the more commonly served chicken and fortunately for me the kitchen had no issues omitting onion out of this dish. The little pocket rockets of baby chillies packed a fierce punch, but if omitted they allowed this dish to be eaten by my two companions with comfort. I must admit accidentally shovelling two of the crispy numbers into my mouth at once did temporarily take me out of my comfort range!
The stuffed squid is a dish I have eaten here before, unfortunately on this night I felt this wasn’t the dish served at its best. There wasn’t anything overtly wrong with it, it was present beautifully, and the squid was not rubbery but the stuffing just didn’t quite have the flavour I recall enjoying so much in the past.
The beef basil was cooked medium rare leaving the meat tender and succulent. It also contained large pieces of chillies meaning it could be spiced up or down depending on your preference. I double dosed on these babies without much trouble. The stir fried vegetables were the most uninteresting of the dishes and were cooked simply with some oyster sauce. The generous addition of enoki mushrooms saved this dish as some of the other vegetables were slightly undercooked. I enjoy crunchy vegies but not quite that crunchy.
Overall, I never walk away from Dusit Thai disappointed and I know I’ll be back.
Score: Food 7.8/10 Service 8.5/10 Venue 7/10Dusit Thai 249 James Street, Northbridge, 6003 | (08) 9328 7647 | http://dusitthai.com.au/
It’s only one week until our engagement party! And even better still nearly everyone is coming! My Mum is travelling over from Adelaide and my sister is flying in from Melbourne. I am actually originally from the Eastern states but I have lived over here for seventeen years with a few years also in London. During my time in sunny Perth my Dad and Step mum have not been able to attend any of my little life milestones – not my 18th, my 21st, my University graduation or even my 30th birthday. So you can imagine my delight when they told me without hesitation that they are both flying over for our engagement party! To top it all off; my estranged best friend who has lived up in Dongara for far too long has decided to take the plunge and move down to Perth to live with her boyfriend. This means two of my gorgeous bridesmaids will both be in Perth for all the wedding planning and festivities!
To celebrate her arrival in Perth and also to celebrate her birthday which was earlier in the week, we all decided to have a little night out down on the local strip in Vic Park. Unfortunately for me I had a busy day planned at work the next day so it wasn’t going to be a crazy night. It was such a beautiful evening so the boy and I decided we would walk down instead of driving. I work in a very busy Veterinary Hospital and I was still really wound up from an absolutely insane day. The day had been a stressful yet very rewarding as we were flooded with a string of critical emergencies cases all of which we managed to save! This left me on a bit of a giddy high so we held hands, talked and strolled in the setting sunlight down to Albany Highway.
We all met at The Publican for few pre-dinner drinks. The crowd was a bit older than we normally expect to see on a Friday night and there was a one man band playing music that would have been better suited on the Love Boat. Good company has a way of improving things so despite the horrendous tunes we stayed for a few rounds and chatted away about how she is settling into the city lifestyle and about the upcoming engagement party outfits.
We moved on from The Publican and started walking down Albany Highway looking for somewhere to eat. We were drawn into the Vietnamese restaurant Phu Pho which unlike the other neighbouring bare and brightly lit Asian restaurants had inviting soft lighting and modern interiors. Although my last visit to the Park was also for Vietnamese I figured maybe this may be a way to do a bit of a comparison of the popular To To’s versus Phu Pho.
We were greeted with lots of smiles from all the staff – they were all lovely and very polite. I remember similar treatment when we ordered some take out from here recently. Service was prompt although it took a little explaining for them to understand what gluten was which always makes me a little nervous. We started with the obligatory Vietnamese fresh rice paper rolls. I cannot imagine a Vietnamese meal without them. We ordered grilled beef rolls and the combination rolls with prawn, pork and omelette. The rolls were presented on their own on the plate – no fuss and no garnish. They were made filled to capacity and were so fat it was nearly a struggle to open my mouth wide enough to fit them in. The combination rolls were fairly standard fare, and I also felt the dipping sauce was a little too mild and bland. The beef rolls were tastier than the combination rolls; the beef tasted like it had some marinade to improve flavour.
For mains we ordered four dishes all to share. Learning from my bestie’s boyfriend that crispy duck is actually flourless therefore hopefully gluten-free, we ordered some duck accompanied with Chinese mushrooms. The duck was very meaty and not covered in fat, but it wasn’t served hot enough and could do with some extra crisp in the skin. The mushrooms were a delicious addition to the dish which would have been less enjoyable without them.
The sizzling Mongolian beef was quite tasty although once again I forgot to ask for no onions. There was much less onions to negotiate compared to To To’s so it wasn’t really a problem for me. Better still the dish wasn’t just meat and onions (like To To’s) and actually had a range of other crunchy vegetables included. Again I felt this dish could have been made spicier – in hindsight I should have asked for some extra chilli on the side as the boy can’t tolerate too much chilli.
The Tamarind king prawn was the best dish of the evening. You are probably thinking I’m turning into a tamarind addict and you may very well be right. I blame Thailand and all her delicious tamarind dishes we have enjoyed for creating this new obsession to add to my growing list.
Finally to add some green to our meal we had the Sambal with garlic and oyster sauce. Although this dish was served with a lot of garlic, it wasn’t overpowering and made the perfect light addition to the rest of our more heavy dishes.
Overall in comparison to the other week at To To’s, I feel the food here was much more flavoursome. I also preferred that their meat dishes included some vegetables other than just onions. Only the rice paper rolls were not quite as good. Nevertheless if I had to pick between the two restaurants I think would return to Phu Pho.
Food 7/10 Service 7.5/10 Venue 7/10Phu Pho Vietnamese Rice and Noodle House 800 Albany Highway, East Victoria Park | (08) 9361 2139
As high as a kite on French champagne and with Rochelle Adonis‘s exquisite high tea delicacies still swimming around on my palate, my friends and I skipped over the road from her studio to the Hotel Northbridge to extend our celebratory mood a little further into the afternoon. After leaving the bright and clean environment of Rochelle’s, the grimy stark reality of the empty pub was initially a little off putting but good company has a way of distracting your attention from these details and we soon sat to continue our chatter and giggling. Of course we wanted to continue drinking champagne and therefore we were all a tad disappointed to read the drinks menu only contained Australian bubbles. For an exorbitant $68 we got a bottle of Chandon Brut and ordered a tasting plate, salt and pepper squid, and fries.
The food arrived fairly quickly, but we were left totally confused as to how to ration four serviettes, three forks, four knives and one plate amongst the six of us. Odd. I would have also liked to have been informed when I placed my order for the food that the salt and pepper squid actually came on a bed of fries as we didn’t really need the second bowl. Needless to say one can see from the photo that the salt and pepper squid wasn’t really such. Deep fried battered squid would be a more appropriate description as the dusting was nearly thicker than the squid itself. The added touch of MasterFoods squeeze-on packets of sweet chilli, tartare and tomato sauces didn’t raise the appeal much either. If you want to charge me $17.50 for such a dish then you had better make an effort on presentation or at least increase the size of your serves to make it good value – this dish had only twelve small pieces of calamari!
Moving onto the tasting plate we were preparing ourselves for the worst. Seriously, what were we thinking coming from High tea to this? If only Rochelle let us have another course! The tasting plate contained a paltry four thin strips of Turkish bread, some tasteless cubes of fetta, two small bowls of watery inedible dips, a handful of jarred olives, a pile of chorizo, about one teaspoon of very scary looking sun-dried tomatoes and some olive oil. The chorizo was the low- light and no one could eat it. It had an unusual taste that wasn’t pleasant.
Disappointed with such poor quality food, a rebellious streak started to emerge from our little group. By this time our over-priced bottle of average sparkling was well and truly empty so we decided it would be a fabulous decision to sneakily pop open our remaining bottle of Cattier from high tea. Anyone tried to open champagne sneakily? After a delayed and unsuccessful attempt at smothering that wonderful popping sound with laughter and coughing, the bartender scurried over to inform us we cannot drink our own bottle. We offered to pay corkage but she wasn’t willing to bend the rules. Fair enough. One of my girlfriends surprisingly managed to squeeze the cork back into the bottle, only for it to pop out later at an impromptu time during our drive home whilst traveling on the back seat. Needless to say the car still smells like celebrations!
Service 5/10 venue 4/10 food 3/10Fuse Bar @ Hotel Northbridge Cnr Brisbane and Lake St, Northbridge, 6003 | (08) 9328 5254 | www.hotelnorthbridge.com.au/bar.php
For months I have been bursting out of my skin to get myself to Rochelle Adonis for her acclaimed high tea! So when my love and I attended a boutique little wedding expo at Mosmans recently I was attracted to her stall like a moth to a flame. Her passion and gentle nature increased her appeal to me even more and I immediately decided I wanted to have one of her exquisite cakes for our upcoming engagement party. This provided me with the perfect excuse to organise a girly afternoon out with some friends for the purpose of “engagement cake tasting”.
For us foodies in the know, we are all very thankful to have such a world class pastry chef of this calibre residing here in little Perth. Rochelle grew up in the French Canadian city of Montreal before moving to Sydney to train as a pastry chef. She then moved to London where she worked in an exclusive wedding cake boutique making cakes for the rich and famous including both the British and Saudi Royal families before she moved onto to Vienna to work in the prestigious Hotel Sacher.
Returning to Australia, she was acting head pastry chef at Forty One in Sydney before joining Matt Moran’s at Moran’s and then once he opened Aria as the head pastry chef there. She moved to WA in 2001 with the ambition of starting her own business and has grown from a small scale home kitchen beginning to the highly acclaimed boutique she has today.
Upon entering her studio, you will be distracted by all the eye catching photos decorating the walls with examples of her handy work. Each cake is prepared with upmost attention and care and they almost look like they couldn’t be real. The two long communal marble tables fill much of the room giving the feeling you are sitting in someone’s kitchen rather than a café. We all came very prepared with enough champagne to sink a ship and with high expectations to have our tastebuds buzzing. We most certainly were not disappointed. Our only complaint was it all ended way too soon! We could have easily done with another few courses!
We all came very prepared with enough champagne to sink a ship and with high expectations to have our tastebuds buzzing. We most certainly were not disappointed. Our only complaint was it all ended way too soon! We could have easily done with another few courses!
The first course was savoury. After my recent enforced gluten indulgences, I thought it best that I stick with her gluten free options – I was after all actually taste testing for a party that will occur once I’m back on the straight and narrow gluten free. My plate contained a cup of creamed corn soup, a vegetable frittata, a cube of pork terrine and a falafel with some harissa. The soup was hot and seasoned perfectly warming us all up as we waited for our champagne to take over the job. The pork terrine had a dollop of horseradish and Dijon mayonnaise. The short sharp heat of the horseradish blended harmoniously with the lingering flavours of the terrine and was the highlight of the four.
The girls also had the pork terrine and the soup on their plates. Their gluten-filled options included a vegetable galette with goat’s cheese and Rochelle’s famous cucumber sandwiches using entirely homemade ingredients including her own handmade butter. The sandwiches looked so cute all cut up in perfect little rectangles sitting in a row.
Our second course was desert. My plate contained mint ice cream with Valrhona chocolate, raspberry jelly, meringue with lemon curd, blueberries and violet, and a blood orange salad on top of a moist butter cake with gooey brulee style custard. The ice cream was not overly sweet or sickly, nor was it too creamy. It had the perfect balance with a fresh minty aftertaste leaving a clean fresh feeling on the palate. My first glancing impressions of the raspberry jelly reminded me of Turkish Delight. Not being the biggest fan of this I was pleased to find an absence of Turkish’s signature delicate rose flavours replaced with a much preferred and rather strong tarty berriness. For those who know Chompchomp well – you will be aware I am a huge fan of all things berry. Well, berries generally come shaped in little balls – and I’m a sucker for food in little balls. The meringue was one of my favourites. It contained all the elements of a well-made meringue: crunchy, chewy and soft, and the accompaniment of sharp tangy lemon curd moved seamlessly into the gentle after notes of the more subtle violet and blueberries.
The blood orange salad tasted like Rochelle had successful managed to capture Spring in a cup! Seeing as our one week teaser of Spring weather has turned viciously back to wet winter windiness I was so thankful to be reminded glorious Perth Spring was just around the corner. Buried deep below the array of sweet blood orange and delicate petals was a layer of brulee and dense orange butter cake. I nearly stuck my fingers into the bottom of the bowl to clean out the last remnants.
By this point we had polished off a bottle of Moet, a bottle of Cattier and a bottle of G.H. Mumm champagne and we were all in very fine form. We really didn’t want our experience to end and thus were determined to carry on with our celebrations. After pondering for some time at the counter, a number of us bought more little cakes, nougat and other delights to take home to share with our loved ones who missed out on the delightful experience. We then all skipped over the road to the Hotel Northbridge to continue our festivities. Oh boy what a contrast in standards of customer service, ambiance and food would we find there!
Venue 8/10 Food 9.2/10 Service 7.7/10Rochelle Adonis 193 Brisbane St, Northbridge, 6003 | (08) 9227 0007
I decided to buy a Scoopon to Old Cathay Restaurant to give to my beloved as a small token gift to further lengthen our post-engagement celebrations. I’m currently on Doctors orders to punish my body with six weeks of gluten hell in order to determine for once and for all whether I am actually coeliac or just have fructose malabsorption. I am still trying to continue to convince myself that this is a time to embrace this character building experience as an opportunity to have total freedom in ordering whatever I like and just grit and bear the consequences.
Chinese food is not one that can be gluten/onion free very easily so it was exciting to order the tasty dishes we wanted instead of the select few adjustable ones. Old Cathay has a warm and inviting interior and was full of customers on a Thursday night. The staffs were very welcoming despite us being Scoopon customers (something not all restaurants do!). Upon being seated we were quickly informed our Cathay tasting plate was being prepared and our bottle of wine was brought to the table. We had choice of white or red – we chose the white (Rothbury Estate SSB). We requested to order an additional entree to the coupon offer which was no problem.
The platter contained 2 Golden Vegetarian Spring Rolls, two Prawn Twisters, one bowl of Chicken Kerabu Salad and two Crunchy Prawn Kataifi. The spring rolls were fresh and hot. The two prawn dishes were both fried and looked like heart attack central. I’m not the hugest fan of deep fried food; however these were actually very crispy and light and didn’t leave my mouth feeling full of oil. In addition to the platter we ordered the boy’s favourite: Soft shelled crab. This was not the tastiest soft shelled crab I’ve had – it felt like it was missing a dipping sauce? Nevertheless it also was crispy and not soggy at all.
For mains our Scoopon included two mains so we ordered the Old Cathay Gui Fei Tofu and the Kung Po Squid. Being food obsessed, we always both tend to want to order more food than is humanly possible to eat so we ordered an extra main of the sweet and sour pork. I’m not usually a big tofu fan, I don’t hate it, but I never think to order it. But Old Cathay tofu is something not to be missed. They make their own tofu and it was wonderfully soft as silk in my mouth. It was accompanied with shredded chicken, mushroom & carrots. The Kung Po squid was stir fried with dried whole chillies and cashew nuts. The sauce with this dish was scrumptious. Unfortunately this dish was a little lukewarm and ideally should have been served at a hotter temperature. The sweet and sour pork had decent sized pieces of meat with a light batter cover that maintained its crispiness and hadn’t gone soggy in the sauce – fresh! The sauce was tangy and gingery and not overpoweringly sweet. A winner for sure.
To end our overindulgent evening, our coupon included a desert each. I was so excited to see red bean pancake on the menu – a Chinese delight I have been deprived of for many years! Imagine my disappointment when they told me there wasn’t any left! Boo! Instead we ordered the Taro Ice Cream and the Sago Gula Melaka served with Ice Cream. These were fairly standard dishes although I like the extra touch of shaved crispy coconut pieces on the top.
I am already planning our return before my gluten clock runs out – to be continued……
Venue 8/10 Service 8/10 Food 7.8/10Old Cathay | 59 Albany Hwy, Victoria Park 6100 | (08) 9361 1881 | www.oldcathay.com.au