For people who eat out regularly the Entertainment Book is an essential annual purchase. It is a book containing hundreds of discounts available for many of the popular restaurants around your chosen capital city in Australia. The books can be purchased through many worthwhile charities and a proportion of the sale price goes to the charity who is selling it. This year we bought ours from the Cancer Council of WA. One of the things I love about the Book is that not only do we get discounts from many of our favourite restaurants but it also encourages us to check out ones we wouldn’t ordinarily visit. Having worked all weekend I felt the need to make the most of the final shreds of sunshine so I flipped through our copy to look for somewhere local that was open for lunch. The Dux café is on South Terrace in Como and have actually been in the area for over ten years. It is a cosy little restaurant that has a strong local following and hosts sell-out degustations and wine dinners on a regular basis.
Dux Café have a number of gluten free options and the chef is happy to adapt other options to make them gluten free. We started with the trio of dips with assorted breads and some gluten free toast on the side for me. The dips included a smooth hummus, a spicy capsicum dip and some olive oil with balsamic. I am guessing the absence of the third dip meant that it wasn’t gluten free.
I was in the mood for share food so we ordered the tasting plate which I was told has components that could be done gluten free. The “prawn duo” consisted of local tiger prawns simply grilled alongside some prawn croquettes that weren’t gluten free. It was served on a bed of fresh home grown herbs, mango, chilli and cherry tomatoes. It would have been good if the croquette was served on a different plate to avoid contamination of crumbs.
On the opposite side of the platter was a gluten free crispy squid salad with house cured streaky bacon and nam jim dressing. The squid was slightly chewy but when eaten in one mouthful along with the salad it packed a powerful punch of flavour. In the middle of the platter was a Persian feta and fig tart with caramelised shallots and basil. As this was obviously this was not gluten free so I left that for the Boy to enjoy while I tucked into the spicy squid salad.
Knowing that I wouldn’t be able to share all of the platter I also ordered the sautéed exotic mushrooms with creamy sherry vinegar sauce. I would normally order such a dish for breakfast but as many of you may know by now I’m a little nuts for my mushrooms. There were a whole array of different types of mushrooms in there and I was grateful I had gluten free bread on the side to soak up all the creamy naughtiness left in the bottom of the bowl.
We didn’t really NEED dessert but then that never really is the point of dessert is it? I loved the sound of the “Dux trinket tray” and was even more intrigued when our waiter confirmed it was gluten free.
Scattered across the plate were indeed a collection of sweet trinkets as described including triangles of soft white chocolate fudge, raspberry jubes, a large Dux Pedro truffle, thick chunks of honeycomb and some crystalline pistachio praline. Whilst definitely not for the diabetically inclined, this sugar hit had a wonderful balance of elements and fitted in well with our whole concept of sharing a variety of small nibbles for lunch.
Dux offer an alternate dining option for those looking for a relaxed café with a bit of finesse away from the Vic Park and South Perth café strips. Whilst the savoury dishes that we chose did not leave me spinning with excitement, our dessert was something quite interesting and definitely something I would be keen to return back for.Dux Restaurant 71 South Terrace, Como WA 6152 | (08) 9474 9000 | www.duxrestaurant.com.au Price: $$$ (Lunch menu $10-22, Entrée $18-20, Mains $33-39) Food: 6/10 (loved the trinkets and the creamy mushrooms) Service: 2.5/5 (initially attentive but became very slow, waited ages to order dessert) Ambience: 2.5/5 (has a tidy café feel) Drinks: N/A Total: 12/20
We are not big eaters of classic fast food; I’m talking burgers, pizza, kebabs and the like. Ultimately I prefer much more refined dining but let’s be honest, one simply cannot afford to do that every weekend. At least not on my income. So when we both got a craving for junk, we decided to head to our local V Burger Bar excited about our naughty treat. Last year our initial attempts at visiting this popular place resulted in us being diverted over to Pancho’s Mexican Villa due to a lack of gluten free buns. Now that was some night…..sloppy microwaved food, blistering burns and a scathing retaliation from a fan (or owner) in the wake of my review; the Pancho’s post has certainly become infamous!
We stopped in at The Balmoral for a couple of pre-dinner drinks and bumped into some old friends that we hadn’t seen for a long time. As we chatted away a local band called Retriofit set up in full view of our tables and started playing some funky acoustic covers. After some time our friends departed to make their own dinner reservations leaving us sitting alone together. We were both in such a fabulous mood so we took the opportunity of using some interesting mood lighting to take portraits of each other with Gordon my SLR (yes, I named my camera!)
After several rounds of drinks and photos my post-run hunger started to climax and was accompanied by some rather unladylike noises erupting from deep in my stomach. We skipped across the road to V Burger Bar nearly drooling in anticipation. I had already called ahead to make sure they had gluten free buns in stock.
After briefly scanning their menu my not-so-sober eyes saw the words “fried egg, beetroot, cheese and bacon” and without giving it one more second of thought my decision was made. I vaguely remember the Boy making some comment about how enormous my burger choice was but in my hunger and excitement I didn’t really register or pay much attention. I was quite disappointed to hear that all the sides on their menu are not gluten free but we ordered a serve of their beer battered chips for the Boy anyway.
Our burgers came out in super quick time and we tucked into them immediately. I observed that my F.B.A. (Full Blooded Aussie) burger had a significant amount of extra height in comparison to the Boy’s Blue Mushie burger choice. I actually struggled to get both by hands around it let alone my mouth! As the Boy finished his burger he started to make wise cracks about my eyes being much bigger than my stomach as I was only half way through mine. Thankfully earlier in the day I had run 12 kilometres around the river at a cracking good pace so like a horse being whipped into action I successfully polished off all of my delicious juicy burger! It was faultless!
The Boy really enjoyed his Blue Mushie too. He was surprised how well the burger held together and didn’t crumble or fall apart in his hands. He loved the hint of blue cheese with earthy undertones of the mushrooms and the succulent perfectly cooked meat patty. The chips were less impressive, they lacked the expected crunch of beer battered chips and needed extra seasoning.
Despite feeling like I was literally going to explode I needed something sweet on my palate to end the night. I had recently read about Taro Taro on WenY Wonders Why and was desperate to check it out. I have always LOVED Asian desserts however there isn’t a great amount of options available here in Perth. Given that Taro Taro is a mere ten minutes’ walk from our front door I had high hopes it would be awesome.
It was getting quite late and much of the bustle of the café strip had started to die off however at Taro Taro it was absolutely packed full of customers. We shuffled into the brightly lit store and felt like we had been transported into another world! Despite being such a fan of Asian desserts I have to be honest, I haven’t got to try nearly as many as I would like. This was my first experience trying herbal jelly and taro.
If you are not familiar with Taiwanese desserts the menu can be a little confusing, so to simplify things for ourselves we ordered the Taro Taro Signature Herbal Jelly ice which contained herbal ice, dark black folds of herbal jelly, balls of sweet potato, sago and taro and lots and lots of sugar. Underneath all the intense sweetness, the flavours were quite soft and delicate and the texture of each type of ball was slightly different ranging from jelly like to nearly chewy. I honestly really enjoyed it but I realise it probably isn’t for every Westerner’s palate.
As we sat outside on a park beach we watched more and more cars turned up full of hungry customers all looking for their taro hit. Such a hive of activity in sleepy Vic Park! We will definitely return again but this time I might be brave enough to create my own dessert of the custom menu.www.thebalmoral.com.au/ Price: $$$ (Entrees $7-23, Mains $22-35, accepts Entertainment Card) V Burger Bar 12/910 Albany Highway, East Victoria Park 6101 | (08) 9355 3702 | www.vburgerbar.com.au/ Price: $$ ($10-15 burgers, accepts Entertainment Card) Food: 7/10 (excellent burgers need to be accompanied by excellent chips) Service: 3/5 (functional and no fuss) Ambience: 3/5 (it’s a burger bar……I don’t expect it to be cosy!) Total: 13/20 Taro Taro Shop 2/ 393 Albany Hwy, Victoria Park 6100 | (08) 9361 0098 | https://www.facebook.com/TaroTaroTaiwan Price: $ ($10-15 desserts) Food: 4/5 (if you love your Asian dessert worth a try!) Service: 4/5 (very efficient considering how busy they are) Ambience: 2/5 (bright white and gleaming) Drinks: 4/5 (good range of teas and other Taiwanese drinks) Total: 15.5/20
What a horrific week it’s been for me! This persistent stomach bug has put me out of action for the whole week!. It started brewing on my wedding dress shopping day with my bestie and then developed more dramatically into a further two days at home in bed. I always get racked with guilt whenever I take a sick day as everyone else’s work load increases to compensate for my absence. So when I woke up on the fourth day and managed to hold a piece of toast down I figured surely I must be good to go. I was wrong and a few hours later my manager sent me home ashen-faced and dizzy.
Being our first Easter off together in several years, I had booked a weekend getaway with the Boy down in Margaret River which also happened to coincide with our 14th anniversary celebration. Prior to falling sick I was so excited about this little minibreak and was looking forward to a few days of eating, drinking and romantic fun. As I sat unusually quietly in the car on the drive down, I accepted that although I am not feeling at my best I was not going to let it ruin our holiday.
We didn’t arrive until the late afternoon on Good Friday by which I was too tired to consider the notion that I may want to blog about our accommodation so dear readers please forgive me for the lack of any photos. We stayed at Chandeliers on Abbey in Yallingup and were quite impressed with the quality of the chalet – it had a fabulous sound system with speakers throughout the chalet, warmed bathroom tiles, and a fridge stocked with fresh milk, OJ, eggs and butter. The kitchen was well equipped and there were candles all about the chalet to help give more atmosphere.
After relaxing on the deck for some time, we headed out to Gnarabar Bar and Bistro which was seemingly one of the only places I could find open on a Good Friday. Situated just out of Margaret River Township near the Gnarabup beach, the bar was humming with life and nearly full capacity. The staff seemed a little run off their feet and perhaps also a tad disorganised.
Seeing a menu clearly marked with gluten-free options always instills hope for an easy ordering experience. If gluten-free dishes are regular menu items then this indicates to me that the kitchen must be familiar with correct food preparation for us more challenging customers. I ordered the gluten-free option of chilli salted calamari with Thai chilli jam and lime. I just wanted a light snack for entrée as my stomach had shrunk from my lack of food intake during the week as a result of being so unwell.
When my dish arrived, it was coated in batter and for some reason I thought there was a chance it wasn’t actually gluten-free. I asked the waiter who assured me this was gluten-free batter and I was totally fine to eat it. Fortunately my usual ritual of photo taking delayed me starting to eat this dish as a few minutes later the same waiter came out of the kitchen looking a little flustered exclaiming I can’t eat it and that it WASN’T gluten free. I couldn’t believe my ears! If I hadn’t double checked with the waiter, and then paused to take photos, I would be back to square one with my stomach ills and our romantic weekend would have been ruined. It astounded me that the kitchen allowed this error to occur!
The Boy order the pan-fried gnocchi with rabbit and shiitake mushrooms. I told him not to wait for my replacement meal to arrive before commencing so he could enjoy his while it was still hot. The gnocchi was soft and not too doughy and he said the rabbit was tender and sweet. My dish didn’t end up being brought out to the table until well after he had polished off his gnocchi.
It didn’t actually look a grand deal different from the previous dish but the Boy had snuck a taste of the one with gluten and said it tasted different. Seeing as my appetite wasn’t the best I was happy to share some of my calamari with him rather than have him stare hungrily at me while I ate. I’m not sure what happened to my “chilli jam” as my calamari was served with some aioli…maybe I read the menu wrong. The calamari was fairly bland and not seasoned very well, and although most pieces were tender there were a few chewy ones in there.
There was only one main dish on the menu that was able to be prepared both gluten and onion free and unfortunately it was a fairly unexciting looking chicken breast dish. Thankfully I was informed by our waitress that it wasn’t a problem for the chef to make any of the entrée dishes into a full main meal size for an extra ten bucks. I was impressed with the size of the meal that was to follow. Juicy meaty Moroccan spiced quail served on a creamy pumpkin purée with an olive, feta and parsley salad. The spices were not too overpowering for my delicate gut and the quail were super-sized and succulent.
The boy ordered the 10 hour braised beef cheek with parmesan polenta for his main meal. He was quite disappointed in his choice as the meat was unexpectedly dry and chewy; not tender or flavoursome as he imagined.
There was no way I was going to fit in a third course until I had given myself another day or two for my stomach size to re-expand to its previous size so we skipped dessert – an unusual occurrence for me indeed! We returned to our cosy chalet and flaked out for what was to be one of the best night’s sleep either one of us has had in over a week. Bliss.
For what it is, a casual beach pub, the Gnarabar fits the bill. However despite us using our Entertainment Book discount, we both felt we could get better quality food at better value at many of the beautiful wineries we visited over the following few days. Additionally the oversight of serving me gluten accidentally is of considerable concern not just for me but for other gluten intolerants out there. If I hadn’t asked, I would have found out the hard way a few hours later.
Follow Me on Facebook!Gnarabar Bar and Bistro Margarets Beach Resort, 1 Resort Place, Gnarabup Beach, Margaret River, WA 6285 | (08) 9757 1583 | www.gnarabar.com.au Price: $$$ (Entrees $14-17, Mains $28-35, accepts Entertainment Card) Food: 2/5 (dodged a gluten bullet!) Service: 2.5/5 (friendly but haphazard and disorganized) Ambience: 2.5/5 (bubbling pub vibe, needs more dim lighting too bright in restaurant area) Drinks: 3/5 (some great MR choices, need more by the glass options) Total: 10/20
I have a penchant for excesses. A friend once coined a term to describe me as “all or nothing”. It is the source of both extreme happiness and great trouble in my life. Currently my focus is on surviving this gluten challenge whilst trying to avoid going overboard. Easier said than done. The Doctors recommendation has been to eat a meagre two to three slices of wheaty wheatyness daily for six weeks. This all started out very well, but the all or nothing has quickly taken over and despite it making me so ill, when I’m out for a wonderful dinner I go out of control.
In a manner of pre-empting the evening eating excesses, I thought I’d get my bloated self out into the glorious sunshine and run around like a freak around the river with the concept that the more calories I burned the more I could eat that night. Unfortunately the whole dietary indiscretion thing is not very conducive to my running efforts, and it was more so a rather pathetic jog where numerous non-poisoned runners zoomed past me totally in their zone. I’m so jealous. Only three more weeks to go. Hey at least I can eat real food! After nearly six weeks of enjoying his long service leave payout, my love has decided to return to the workforce and has successfully passed through a rigorous interview process to be accepted for a job he is really keen to have. With hopes for a even brighter future what better way for us to celebrate than with good food and some bubbles!
After flipping through the Entertainment Book we booked a table at Chapter One Brasserie in Subiaco. Chapter One is a relaxed and unpretentious restaurant run by a husband and wife team; Hayley and Jason Walker. Hayley has extensive experience in the hospitality industry and this became apparent as throughout the night she confidently flitted from table to table ensuring everyone was enjoying themselves and their meals. We both immediately warmed to her bubbly personality and her pride in her restaurants success. The chef Jason trained at the London Hilton before going to work with a number of Europe’s famous chefs including Marco Pierre White. This European influence comes through strongly on his menu with some hearty dishes including rabbit pie and duck with foie gras.
We started our evening with a baguette and butter. The baguette had a wonderful crunchy exterior with fluffy lightness inside, something one really misses out on when on a gluten free diet. It would have enhanced my whole experience if the bread wasn’t cold. Or the butter for that matter. Cold butter does not make for very elegant eating.
We moved on to our next course to share the Tasting plate. This contained four shot glasses of pea and ham soup, some grilled polenta with a tomato salsa, some vol-u-vents, chorizo and some asparagus spears. The soup was served hot and was a much needed hit of warmth in my belly after the disappointment of the cold baguette. It was thick and creamy and the ham was meaty with minimal fat. It was a tad quirky that the spoons served with the soup didn’t fit into the little glasses. The polenta was soft on the inside but grilled to a flavoursome brown and was the most enjoyable item on the plate next to the soup. The chorizo was good but nothing special. The vol-u-vents were disappointing as they were luke warm and the puff pastry had no crunch to it.
After reading some others reviews on the net raving about Chapter One’s Blue manna crab angel hair pasta, we decided to once again make pigs of ourselves and order a second entree. Well the Italians do it don’t they? And aren’t we meant to be celebrating? Memories of cold dishes slipped into the back of our minds as we slurped our way through this amazing dish. I highly recommend. It truly shows looks can be deceiving as the strong crab flavours worked their magic over our palate. Hayley claims their secret is in the sauce and she is most definitely not mistaken there. Oh boy, I was really going to pay for all this glutenness tomorrow!
For mains we both ordered the braised rabbit & wild mushroom pie, with parsnip puree and a sage jus. I can understand why this dish remains on his ever changing menu as it was executed perfectly. This time round the pastry was buttery and feather light (and hot), and the rabbit was tender and succulent. We also ordered the warm beetroot and goats cheese salad. I felt there was an excess on onion in this dish, not really necessary given the abundance of strong tart taste of the goats cheese.
Unsurprisingly I was convinced we had room for dessert. That doesn’t actually mean there was room in my stomach but refer to my original point I made at the beginning of this blog. All or nothing. I wouldn’t (couldn’t?) have it any other way! I ordered the berry and creme fraiche tart and the boy ordered some sort of butterscotch cheesecake.
The berry tart was well balanced with both sour and sweet flavours however the pastry base was very hard and half of my dessert went flying across the table when I tried cutting into it. The boy found it quite entertaining as once again you could easily see my place at the table as in front of me was a collage of colours ranging from the pale green of the pea soup to the brilliant ruby red of the berries. Apparently he thinks this is a regular occurrence. Overall the evening was very enjoyable and I will dream of the crab pasta well into my gluten free days.
Venue 7.5/10 Service 9/10 Food 8/10Chapter One Brasserie 292 Hay St, Subiaco, 6008 | (08) 9388 1323 | www.chapteronebrasserie.com.au