For some reason over the last couple of years I have become accident-prone. Don’t be alarmed, there has been no major incidents, but more of a succession of annoying injuries that have prevented me from running which in turn makes me very grumpy. To name a few, there has been a handful of broken ribs, multiple occasions of recurrently broken toes, countless bumps to the head, plantar fasciitis and most recently during our Melbourne trip, a torn quadriceps. It has got to the stage that I get more of an eye roll than any sympathy from the Boy because seriously…it is never ending and according to him somewhat preventable.
For my most recent injury it was a case of me being overambitious, which again the Boy believes is a common occurrence. My stepmum invited me out on a run with her one morning. As we walked out the door my father was chanting out retorts that she doesn’t really run suggesting I was in for an easy outing.
Eighteen rounds of interval training at a flat out sprint later I was left out of breath with a stitch and sweating profusely. My stepmum had barely worked up a sweat and had to slow down so I could keep up the pace.
Two days later, still stiff and sore the Boy and I hit the shops to do some clothes shopping. It is a rare event that the both of us are in the mood to shop and this day our minds were perfectly in sync. Winning. Just as we were getting into the swing of things with a number of bags in hand, I crouched down to pick up a pair of jeans and felt something in the front of my leg go “twang!”. Sharp bolts of pain radiated up my leg and I struggled to pull myself up.
And thus our shopping expedition ended. Within minutes a very focal hard area of swelling and bruising came up on the front of my leg and I was unable to extend my leg out. Yup, I tore a quad. Awesome.
As my eyes watered with pain the Boy tried to distract me from my injury with offers of a lunch date instead. We were minutes shuffle from Supernormal on Flinders Lane so I plucked up my courage and hobbled along gritting my teeth. Supernormal serve Modern Asian share plates, with a lot of Chinese influenced dishes as a result of the Head Chef’s time spent in Hong Kong.
As we were seated we were given some complementary pumpkin seeds to nibble on while the waiter went through the gluten free options for me. I was finding it very hard to concentrate with pain shooting up and down my leg and not knowing whether I should sit or stand I kept shuffling about at our table with an unattractive grimace on my face. To buy us some time the Boy ordered some pickled vegetables and oysters to start along with a strong hit of gin for me. I downed a couple of pain killers in one gulp and waited for my pain to subside.
As the gin coursed its way through my veins, my pain gave way to discomfort allowing me to sit back on my bar stool and knock back some Sydney Rock and Pacific oysters. I could take my focus away from my torn muscle and concentrate on the menu enough to select a couple of larger dishes to share. We started with the silken tofu with marinated eggplant and coriander after being advised it was gluten free. It wasn’t until the waitress actually brought the cooked dish to our table that she then paused and exclaimed “Oh! This isn’t gluten free!” and whisked it away quickly. I wish I hadn’t got to smell and see the dish because it looked amazing and I really felt like I had missed out. Boo hoo to gluten.
I had heard many good things about Supernormal’s lobster rolls so you can imagine my joy when our apologetic waitress told me they could do a gluten free version of this dish using a lettuce leaf cup instead of the brioche bun. The Boy ordered the standard version which although small for the price did get a number of exclamations and groans of pleasure out of the man.
Whilst not getting to enjoy the texture and flavour on the brioche bun, I was hardly missing out with the sang chow bow styles lettuce cups. The lobster was sweet, fresh and all the colours of delicious. For a brief moment there I could almost forget I was a cripple again. Food has a wonderful way of making things better in the short term.
I will definitely be returning for a few more rounds of these next trip to Melbourne hopefully without any injuries to distract me!
180 Flinders Lane, Melbourne VIA 3000 | (03) 9650 8688 | www.supernormal.net.au
For those of you living in Perth, think back to what it used to be like on a weeknight in our City five years ago. Once the day ended and the clock hit five, all the bustling daytime cafes and bars would shut and everyone would head straight home. Before long the streets of our capital would be stark empty and it was like you were standing in a ghost town. A rapidly growing city with a population of over one million people and yet we turned our backs on our own city centre!? Thankfully things didn’t stay that way forever and after some government incentives like the new small bars laws and the construction of flashy inner city apartment blocks; little sparks of life started popping up everywhere throughout the city. This energy has now burst into full flame and the memory of Perth’s once deserted streets is just an embarrassment of the past.
One of the most exciting new developments in the city is Brookfield Place situated on St Georges Terrace. This complex is based around the BHP skyscraper and is an entertainment hub filled with high end restaurants and bars. Print Hall is one of the more sophisticated new eating locations within the complex and is housed in the beautiful heritage listed Newspaper House. Print Hall recently won six awards at the Australian Hotels Association Western Australia Hospitality Awards for Excellence and has also received one star in the 2014 Good Food Guide. The kitchen team is led by David Coomer of iconic Star Anise fame and Executive chef Shane Watson and these talented guys are very focused on using Western Australian produce to serve European influenced dishes.
My first visit to Print Hall was earlier in the year when we stopped for a couple of quick drinks before seeing David Attenborough’s live show at the Perth Convention Centre. Immediately upon entering the bar I was wowed by its opulence and sense of grandeur; it is massive by Perth standards. Situated at one end of the luxurious bar is a permanent oyster bar manned by the lovely Jerry Fraser who is also known as the “King of Oysters”. Jerry is there nearly every day freshly shucking oysters on demand for hungry diners in addition to serving a variety of super fresh local seafood. On this night however we missed out on meeting the man himself and got his more than competent side kick Tony.
Like moths attracted to a bright light the Boy and I gravitated over to the neon “Jerry’s Oysters” sign and sat ourselves in front of Tony at the bar. Looking at my clock I saw we had exactly one hour until the show began and ambitiously ordered the biggest and most expensive seafood platter to share; “The Print Hall”. The Boy gave me a bit of a high brow look but didn’t make any attempts to stop me ordering it.
Tony assured us he would have our platter ready for us in a jiffy and made quick work preparing everything giving us plenty of time to make a total mess of ourselves as we devoured it.
Our enormous platter was piled high with all the delights of the sea including a full Western rock lobster, Blue Ridge marron, Blue Manna crab, Tiger prawns, mussels, cambinata yabbies and oysters. Nothing beats the taste of freshly shucked oysters in my humble opinion; I can eat them by the dozen. These combined with nearly every other tasty crustacean from the sea it was enough to send us both into a dizzy head spin. It was a fabulous experience and worth every single cent.
After our brief but awesome experience at Print Hall Bar, I was very eager to return. My Dad and Stepmum are two very well-travelled foodies who live in the heart of Melbourne just off Flinders Lane where they are surrounded by the City’s top end restaurants. I knew they would be hard to impress so when they came over for a whirlwind business trip to Perth I took a punt and booked a table in the Print Hall Dining Room.
We started the night off with a round of cocktails upstairs in the Apple Daily Bar overlooking Print Hall’s long bar. Dad and the Boy both ordered the daily special cocktail which was made with apple and rosemary. Not really the Boy’s thing however as you may know he is a purist strawberry daiquiri fan. This drink wasn’t pink enough for him!
I ordered the White Lady Boy made with white spirits, yuzu and ginger. It was topped with pretty little flowers and was fresh, light and far too easy to knock back. I could have gulped another down if it wasn’t a work night! My Stepmum ordered Milk of the Poppy with pandan, mandarin and coconut and her drink tasted like an alcoholic version of something you get off the dessert tray at Dim sum. Just minus the cubes and balls.
After our drinks we were escorted back downstairs to the Print Hall Dining Room. My heart sunk a little as I looked around and saw the dim level of ambient lighting as I knew my photography skills were in for a test. Not to worry, I’m always up for a challenge and what better way to create a beautiful mood than to turn the lights down real low?
After listening to our waitress give us a very polished but somewhat lengthy description of the three champagnes served by the glass, she brought our complementary amuse bouche to the table. A curious zesty tasting disc of fresh cheese made from a mixture of mascarpone, cream, feta and yoghurt and garnished with dried black olives, roasted parmesan, dill pollen and some fresh dill. It was so soft that it begun to melt sumptuously on the plate.
To scoop the cheese up we were given an enormous cracker that looks like something from another planet. It was gluten free and made from potato, tapioca and brown rice flours. It had a similar texture to a prawn cracker being light and easy to start. It was fun passing it around taking turns to snap off a piece.
We chose to have the four course meal option for $110 per person as there was something on the menu for everyone including both vegetarian and gluten free options. To start off with Dad and I chose the Blue Manna crab with curried egg, cucumber and avruga caviar. The crab was so sweet it was almost like eating dessert and the addition of the avruga gave it a wonderful salty finish. My gluten free version omitted the crisp bread however my dish didn’t feel unfinished without it. Our waitress gave me another giant sized cracker in case I wanted that textural crunchy component.
The Boy and my Step mum chose the tartare of Point Samson scampi. It came with a flavoursome carrot, ginger and orange puree and tiny slivers of seaweed and micro herbs.
The Boy chose the vegetarian option of wood grilled black salsify for his second course option. Black salsify is a root vegetable that belongs to the dandelion family and is also known as the oyster plant because it has an oyster like taste when it is cooked. It is considered to be very nutritious containing proteins, fats, essential amino acids, potassium, iron, and vitamins A, B1, E and C. It was served with brilliant green kale, hot smoked ricotta and meaty oyster mushrooms.
The remainder of us chose the roasted pigeon breast for our second course. The pigeon was cured in gin, juniper and sage and then roasted to a luscious ruby red rare. To further enhance the rich colours and flavours, a chunk of creamy rare seared chicken liver was buried in amongst the tender breast along with sweet pickled and pureed beetroot.
Some slightly bitter cooked radicchio leaves were also tossed in there giving a wonderfully diverse tickle to my taste-buds. As I savoured every twist and turn of this dish’s elements I looked up to see both my Dad and Stepmum’s facial expressions indicating they were doing the same!
The main course fish of the day was Red Emperor and have to I apologise to you my dear readers as you will only get to see and hear about one main dish despite there being a number of other beautiful options on the menu. It is a rare occasion that I dine out with my family and we all order the same thing but we did this time round. When I first moved out of home at the tender age of seventeen, the first whole fish I ever attempted to cook was an enormous Red Emperor. It barely fit into my oven and my fellow flat mates looked on with suspicion and doubt. Thankfully the fish turned out perfectly, I proved them all wrong and my love for this fish has stayed ever since. Print Hall did not disappoint and I was served an exquisitely cooked thick wedge of juicy fish topped on a neat pile of wood grilled mussels and squid. Brightly coloured and aromatic sofrito introduced a bit of a South American feel to this dish and it was so good I nearly wanted to lick my plate clean.
To accompany our mains a side serve of salad and a bowl of duck fat potatoes were brought to the table. Now if you bear in mind that my Stepmum has a well-known reputation amongst both friends and family for making the best duck fat potatoes these potatoes were up for some scrutiny. Thankfully they were damn good and although my Stepmum’s are definitely better, it was a pretty close call!
For dessert the Boy ordered the pumpkin pie with pepita sponge and maple ice cream. Not being a much of a sweet tooth, he isn’t really one to get into the whole concept of de-constructed desserts and I guarantee the only reason he chose this was because it said maple ice cream on the menu. He is very easily pleased for his sweets; give him ice cream and it will satisfy him every time.
For my dessert our waitress recommended for me to have the Valrhona chocolate mousse as she felt this was the best gluten free option to have. It sounded nothing short of amazing; Valrhona chocolate mousse, hazelnut, single origin coffee crème and milk sorbet. I have to say however, after enjoying a succession of very impressive courses, my dessert actually left me feeling somewhat under-whelmed. Even my chocoholic Stepmum agreed with me that it wasn’t that exciting. Please don’t get me wrong, there wasn’t anything specifically wrong with it; it just didn’t feel special like everything else did. After all our other dishes totally exceeded our expectations it was a shame to end the night on a bit of a fizzer.
Overall we were both very impressed on each of our evenings at Print Hall . These guys have nailed all the essential key elements for success; polished, knowledgeable service, interesting and creative food with fresh locally sourced produce where possible and an ambience that makes you feel like you are dining somewhere quite special. I look forward to returning but maybe I will go for lunch next time so that I can actually take some decent photos of their beautiful food!Apple Daily Bar & Eating House 125 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 6282 0088 Print Hall Bar and Dining Room 125 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 6282 0000 | www.printhall.com.au Price: $$$$ (2 courses $70, 3 courses $90, 4 courses $110, dego $150)) Food: 4.5/5 (creative but with classic elements) Service: 5/5 (faultless) Ambience: 4.5/5 (very romantic and opulent, just not great for a food blogger’s photos!) Drinks: 4.5/5 (extensive wine list, thank god Da chose because I got lost in it all) Total: 18.5/20
Degustation is a French word which can be translated into meaning “a careful, appreciative tasting of various foods focusing on the senses using high culinary art”. I have always been a huge fan of tasting menus as they allow me to taste a myriad of different dishes and leave me so insanely full that I never feel like I missed out. This style of dining is one best done slowly with good company and conversation which makes me thankful that my dear husband loves “degos” as much as I do. As you can imagine, for my recent solo trip to Barcelona I became emotionally torn; do I have a degustation in a city known for its fabulous food ON MY OWN? Is that too weird? I had read great things about Michelin starred Restaurant Nectari where their Chef Jordi Esteve offers a gluten free tasting menu complete with matching wines. Nectari opened their doors nearly five years ago and since then they have worked toward earning a well-known reputation for their service and food leading to receiving their first Michelin Star in 2013.
I tried to visualise myself sitting alone in a restaurant eating a ten course meal and decided that although I could do it I would be less conspicuous at lunchtime. I arranged my booking via email before leaving Australia but on my arrival I was met with a few surprised looks, mainly because I was on my own and regrettably spoke negligible Spanish. I was ushered into the empty restaurant, looked around at the vacant seats and started to wonder if this was all a big mistake. I tried to remind myself that the Spanish eat out late, and that it would be normal to find a restaurant empty on a week day.
My nervousness was soon to pass as my waitress for the day approached me with such genuine warmth that I immediately felt at ease. I quickly learnt she was a cat person and before long we were exchanging feline stories in broken English. My amuse bouche was so colourful with four very different mouthfuls of deliciousness; a spoonful of fresh raw salmon with a sliver of creamy egg frittata, a fold of mango wrapped in jamón, fresh mandarin with mozzarella and a quail egg on top of olive purée. Some home-made gluten free olive and spiced tomato breads were also brought to the table with a selection of local olive oils to choose from.
In my excitement to share my first course on Instagram I completely forgot to take a photo with my SLR camera “Gordon” and therefore only have this iPhone shot. Sorry peeps! The soup was a mussel cream served with sesame and green oil. Even though it was served cold it had a rich, strong flavour. Hidden in the bottom was a single super sweet prawn.
The foie gras terrine was served with an unusual combination of watermelon coulis, pistachio and fresh strawberries. Each sliver was decadent and creamy with a sweet after-taste accentuated by the coulis. Crunchy almond biscuits with a hint of black pepper provided a textural contrast.
Staying true to the Chef’s traditional Spanish roots his next course was a glammed up gazpacho. Freshly poached lobster, caramelised roasted almonds, melon sorbet and jamón were all gently engulfed by the vibrant gazpacho as it was poured into my bowl tableside.
My palate was entertained with layers of fruity coolness interrupted intermittently by the crunch of a roasted nut or smoked piece of jamón. This was an outstanding dish.
The next course was described as “sting ray with carrot sauce and mussels”. I wished my Spanish was better so I could further enjoy the details that she described of this dish. Each piece of fish was delicate and soft, shredding easily under my fork. The sauce was surprisingly syrupy and sweet.
The following course was the only dish I didn’t thoroughly enjoy; prawn and mushroom dumplings with a seafood sauce. The dumplings were a little chewy and their contents were too salty for my liking.
Before the main course I was served a refreshing passionfruit sorbet “for my digestion” topped with a sugar crusted miniature mint leaf. After the briny dumplings it was a welcome cleanser for my taste buds.
The rack of lamb was served very rare which is thankfully just how I like it. I visualised in my mind some of my more conservative friends gasping at the deep red colour and lack of brown sear on the meat. It was served with a bright red pepper sauce and roasted green garlic. The green garlic was quite mild in flavour but even so I knew there would be no vampires attacking me on my walk back to the hotel.
The cheese plate included Tous del Tillers, Comte and Gorgonzola. Tous del Tillers is a raw cow’s milk cheese from the Catalan province of Lleida and had Brie-like bloomy rind and rich creamy centre. Comte is a semi-hard unpasteurised cheese from France and is thus is hard to obtain in Australia. It has a complex, nutty flavour and similar texture to Gruyère. Many of you will be much more familiar with Gorgonzola as this is a regular feature on many cheese platters back in Perth.
My dessert was quite an unusual surprise. A shimmering gold bullion shaped block of rich chocolate mousse sat comically on my plate. As I plunged my spoon into its foamy texture, thick cranberry liquor oozed out. It was magical and unexpected. The combination of tart and sweet was perfectly balanced and ended this experience on a high note.
As my petit fours was brought to the table I realised that I had journeyed through a whole ten course degustation on my own without once feeling bored or lonely. For someone who is normally highly gregarious I felt this to be a big achievement. I have to confess however the restaurant DID have WIFI allowing me to skate across a number of social media platforms for the duration of my meal. The lunch ended with the chef coming out to my table wanting to get my feedback and to make sure that I enjoyed my meal. A lovely personal touch.
Nectari RestaurantCarrer València, 28 08015 Barcelona | 932 26 87 18 | www.nectari.es Price: $$$ (Awarded One Michelin Star 2013, caters for gluten free) Food: 4.5/5 (presented exquisitely and passionately, fresh flavours with local influences) Service: 4/5 (one of the waitresses speaks reasonable English, otherwise best learn Spanish) Ambience: 3.5/5 (hard to assess as I dined at an unusual time in the middle of the week and day) Drinks: 4/5 (beautifully matched wines choosing predominately local wines) Total: 16/20
I have very fond memories of my last time at Matilda Bay Restaurant with two of my favourite people in my life; the Boy and my dearest Mum. It was Christmas Day lunch some years ago and it remains one of our most relaxing and stress-free Christmas’s to date. So when the Boy invited me to join him there on a business dinner recently I didn’t have to hesitate in my response!
Being so food obsessed is proving to be my Achilles heel by hindering my success in achieving the svelte bride body that I want. I have a bad habit of over eating and seem to enjoy the feeling of being insanely full. My solution is simply to focus on eating less for the last six months in the lead up to the big day. This night out was to be the last night of uninhibited eating before the frustrations of restriction begun so I wanted to go out with a bang.
You can only imagine my disappointment when a few hours before we were to all meet for dinner, the Boy was informed by email that the invitation didn’t extend to partners. Knowing how much I was looking forward to the evening and presuming the refusal was due to a strict budget, the Boy explained that we were not expecting a free meal and I was more than happy to pay my own way. Unfortunately this wasn’t good enough for the agency and after receiving a fairly patronising reply the Boy’s blood started to boil.
Not wanting to disappoint his food obsessed wife-to-be, he softened the blow of the bad news to me by offering to still take me out somewhere nice. We toyed with the idea of getting a table right next to the one I got booted off at Matilda Bay purely for entertainment value. However after briefly thinking about this further we figured that probably wouldn’t gone down so well! After a few unsuccessful calls to some favourite venues, he managed to secure us a reservation at InContro in South Perth. We even managed to get a table with city and river views. (My apologies in advance for the photos…even Gordon didn’t cope in such low level lighting!)
InContro offers a style of dining they call “piccolo dining” which is a bit like a Mediterranean version of tapas. They create small dishes for the entire table to share and it is brought to the table in a tiered rack reminding me of years gone by where I shared High Tea with my Dad and stepmum at Brown’s Hotel in London. After discussing my allergies with our waitress, she offered for the chef to select appropriate dishes to make up a two courses of a piccolo experience. Not being in the mood for anything specific, the Boy and I both smiled at each other and chose to go ahead with her recommendation. I love surprises!
Each course contained three carefully selected and quite interesting dishes using lots of fresh seasonal local produce. The succulent frenched Dorper lamb cutlets were topped with Moroccan spiced cauliflower. The sweet tasting cumin paired harmoniously with the tender lamb leaving me wishing we had more.
Our seared scallops were plump with a crisp browned surface and a nearly creamy centre of amazingness. On a bed of pea puree and topped with crispy shreds of prosciutto these little morsels were nearly as moreish as the cutlets. I was pretty excited about what else was to come.
Our third entrée was simply described as a lobster salad. A fairly decent serve of decadent lobster sat innocently hidden underneath a handful of shredded greens. Further hiding below the lobster was bite sized chunks of thoroughly dressed avocado, tomato and fresh herbs. Although this dish wasn’t much to look at, each mouthful was bursting with flavour.
The sticky Black Angus short rib was the “to die for” dish of the evening. Unfortunately my photos didn’t turn out as well as I would have liked them to due to the beef sitting at the top of the three levelled tier. Not being a very tall person I really struggled to steady my camera. Of course my lack of hand stability that had nothing to do with the three glasses of Billecart I had drunk previously. Not at all.
The meat didn’t just fall off the bone it slivered off and dissolved in the mouth like cotton candy. The marinade was thick, sticky and subtly sweet and neither of us could help ourselves as we scraped the remaining sauce off the board with our forks, trying to savour its flavour for as long as possible.
In my excitement of this final night of excess I had not bothered to go through the nitty gritty of my fructose malabsorption with our waitress. I had purely just requested no gluten or no onion. Thus I did have to sift through our pork dish to avoid the little cubes of pear. The pork belly had just the right balance of fat, meat and crackling and didn’t leave any unpleasant porkiness taste in my mouth. The crackling gave a satisfyingly loud crunch as I bit into it.
The salad to accompany our mains dishes contained shaved fennel, pear and candied walnut. Again I had to dodge the pear (my own fault) which was easy enough to do. The salad was light and refreshing on the palate after the two heavier meat dishes.
For dessert the Boy ordered his ice cream as per usual; as you may already know it is fairly uncommon for him to ever order anything else for dessert. I settled for the only gluten free dessert option which was the polenta cake with butterscotch ice cream. It was moist and didn’t crumble apart but the butterscotch ice cream was a little sickly sweet for my liking.
InContro is a great local option if we feel like a night out with a bit more class than casual. We have dined here on several occasions over the years and have never been disappointed with either the food or service and they take good diligence in catering to those with allergies. Of course we will be back.InContro 79 South Perth Esplanade, South Perth 6151 | (08) 9474 5566 | www.incontro.com.au Price: $$$$ (Piccolo $9-16/dish, Entrees $22-28, Mains $35-48) Food: 4.5/5 (sticky beef ribs were out of this world) Service: 4/5 (attentive, efficient despite a full house) Ambience: 5/5 (views of Perth city skyline, how can it get better?) Drinks: 4/5 (great wine list but I confess I stuck to my Billecart all night!) Total: 17.5/20
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
Bearing in mind that our mini-break to Bali was a spontaneous and relatively unplanned trip the holiday’s budget was a little tighter than I am normally accustomed to. It was our fourth night and we had already eaten at some very impressive restaurants such as Ku De Ta and La Lucciola. These were wonderful meals but they came at prices that are comparable to those back in Perth. To add to the situation it is only a year before our wedding date (WOOT!) and the boy was getting justifiably concerned about our spending habits knowing full well that we still had our Sydney trip the following week!
Once again by recommendation, this time from one of our travelling companions who came with us last year in Phuket, we made the journey in the torrential monsoon rain to the more built up southern part of Seminyak to Chez Gado Gado. On entry into this opulent venue I started to worry that I had inadvertently chosen another pricy restaurant. Thankfully after scanning the menu I was relieved to see that things were all very reasonably priced despite the external appearance of the restaurant being quite fancy.
We were greeted promptly by the maître D who had been kindly informed in advance by our hotel reception of my dietary requirements. She explained she would get the chef to come to our table so I could discuss the menu directly with him. The executive chef is Quirijn Rademaker, a Dutchman who has been working at Gado Gado for the past 4 years having previously come from Shy restaurant in Jakarta. He was keen and energetic and offered to adapt a number of options off his menu for me. I was eyeing off the terrine of smoked and cured salmon with crab, pomelo and sour cream vinaigrette. He said although the terrine is not suitable, he could make me a salmon carpaccio and accompany it with a dill mustard cream, fresh fennel and the pomelo. I haven’t tried salmon with citrus before – it sounds like a pretty weird thing to combine, but surprisingly it really worked and I was suitably impressed.
The boy ordered the lobster ravioli which I obviously couldn’t taste but looked really flavoursome. Having eaten out for a number of nights in a row, he was starting to get a little weary of my repeated and incessant questions regarding the taste of his meals so I didn’t get much of a description from him other than “delicious”.
After such fresh and saporous entrees, unfortunately our main meals were lacklustre by comparison. The potato gratin was served lukewarm and tasted like it had been re-heated. The jus contained onion so the chef made an alternate sauce for me that was too peppery and didn’t balance well with the sweetness of the beetroot and duck. None of the dish was unpleasant by any stretch of the imagination, just mismatched and poorly combined.
We had also ordered some sides of sautéed mushrooms and zucchini with mint and garlic. These sides were seemingly forgotten and I had to remind the waiter that we ordered them. They didn’t come out until we had finished our mains completely. The sautéed mushrooms were juicy and tasty but the zucchini was soggy with excessive oil and was intensely overloaded with garlic. After overdosing on our garlic we had no room left for dessert and tried to make the most of the break in the rain and head back to the villa. As soon as we had paid the bill and were heading out the front door to hail ourselves a cab – the heavens opened up again and the tropical downpour continued! We got thoroughly soaked!
Travelling to Bali? Be sure to check out the Lonely Planet Bali and Lombok Travel Guide before you go!Like Me on Facebook! Chez Gado Gado Jalan Camplung Tanduk, (Dhyanapura) 99, Seminyak, Bali, 80361 INDONESIA | (+62) 361 736966 | www.gadogadorestaurant.com Price: $$ (Entrees 88-164K Rp/$9-17 AUD, Mains 146-295K Rp/$15-30 AU) (incl. tax & service charges) Food: 3/5 (has potential – overall not bad) Service: 3/5 (slow on drinks service and forgot side dishes) Ambience: 3/5 (would be awesome to watch the sunset on the deck weather permitting) Drinks: 2.5/5 (cocktails were fairly average) Total: 11.5/20
It was our first night in Bali and our refreshing welcome drink served at our villa was a much needed treat. It had taken us no less than an hour and a half to travel a mere twelve kilometres through bumper to bumper traffic from the airport to Seminyak. Once we had checked into our villa and discovered the free minibar wasn’t very well stocked, we decided to head out into the town in search of something to eat and drink. I had been given a long list of eating venues from friends back home so I started at the top of the list and chose Ku De Ta.
I tried to not to compare my first impressions of Bali with our recent times in Thailand but this was a difficult task to do. Having been to a few locations on a couple of trips to Thailand, there is definitely something about the people and their country that makes me smile. I guess that is why they call it the “Land of Smiles”! Bali just didn’t give me that same overwhelming feeling of happiness but at this early stage of the trip I hadn’t recognised this fully nor even now do I completely understand why.
Ku De Ta is an impressive venue day or night and I regret not going back there during the day to get a better look at their beach club in the sunlight. The venue is spacious with several different areas to either relax for drinks or sit down for something a bit more formal. The bar opens directly out onto the beach with sun beds and parasols all set up for those who want to enjoy a sun downer. The crowd was predominately Australian and had an air of pretention about it, which I think was the first distinct difference to equivalent venues in Thailand. I started to feel like I may as well have come to a beach club in my own country. In contrast to the patrons, the service was very welcoming and they were more than happy to take my eating card back to the kitchen to determine what I could have off their menu. The waiter returned with two entrée options and four main dish options that would be possible.
As you may know, I love my oysters. More specifically, I like trying new types of oysters that we haven’t tried before. Sydney Rock Oysters are a particular favourite of mine – they are smaller and have a more intense and distinct flavour than Pacific Oysters and they take apparently take 2-3 times longer to reach maturity. Ku De Ta offered two types of oyster but unfortunately they were not Sydney Rock. One type was from Eagle Rock and the other was from Otter Cove and both are Pacific oysters grown in Washington’s Puget Sound in the US. We ordered half a dozen of each type. The Eagle Rock were delicately flavoured, sweet and very creamy. The Otter Cove oysters were also quite sweet but were a little brinier than the Eagle Rock. Both were very fresh and left me with that lingering salty aftertaste of the sea.
My entrée of tuna and lobster tartare was visually very appealing and almost looked too pretty to eat. It was served on paper thin slices of cucumber placed crisscrossed against each other to make a decorative pattern on my plate. There was just enough wasabi to give the dish a kick making every mouthful a burst of freshness and the dressing had just a hint of sweetness ending the orchestra of flavours perfectly.
The Boy had crispy soft-shelled crab salad which was served with pork belly. He let me have a little taste of the pork belly and it was cooked perfectly with a succulent layer of meat covered with a very crunchy and crispy layer of crackling. The soft-shelled crab was battered so I didn’t get to try any but according to him it was again cooked to perfection although it wasn’t very meaty. He said the salad was an explosion of flavour with the sweet Borneo honey, tangy citrusy pomelo, cucumber and salty cashews.
My main dish was similarly mind blowing. The cod was the texture of butter and fell apart under my fork purely melting in mouth. It was marinated in a shiso dressing which has a similar taste to basil but much more subtle. The salad contained mushrooms which you may know are pretty much my favourite vegetable of all time and this was also dressed with the syrupy shiso.
The Boy ordered the grilled seafood a la plancha. It was served on a bed of fregola (small ball shaped pasta resembling Israeli couscous) and a soffrito sauce (basically tomato, onion and garlic). His fish was not as delicate and buttery as mine as they used barramundi which is a slightly more firm fish. The remainder of his seafood was juicy and tender particularly the scallops.
Pleasantly impressed with the quality of the food and the service, we both were too full for dessert and decided to get the bill before returning to our villa. To our complete surprise the bill came to nearly $300 Australian dollars! In Bali! The Boy was in shock! When you consider the local’s average income this meal was extremely overpriced from what it was. It was however the best one we had in our whole time in Bali and I will return next time I’m in Seminyak.
Travelling to Bali? Be sure to check out the Lonely Planet Bali and Lombok Travel Guide before you go!Ku De Ta Jalan Laksmana, 9, Seminyak, Bali 80361, Indonesia | +62 361 736969 | www.kudeta.net Price: $$$$ (142K-220K Rp/ $15-23 AUD entrée, 300K-370K Rp / $32-40 AUD mains) Food: 4.5/5 (wonderful layers of flavours) Service: 4.5/5 (accommodating and friendly) Ambience: 3.5/5 (gorgeous setting but lots of pretentious Australian tourists) Drinks: 4.5/5 (cocktails were delicio!) Total: 17/20
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