Layup, Northbridge

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On the site of what was once the Dizzy Witch Cafe, the new owners have transformed a tired old space into an light, industrial, modern cafe with a pleasing menu. When I met Egg and her son there shortly after Easter, there were only a few tables occupied and we wondered why. Our food dispelled any doubts we may have had, and the coffees were superb too.

The display cabinet and pie warmer were bereft of any offerings that looked appealing. This was a bit disappointing as the butter chicken pie on the menu sounded like just the ticket, and I could see the potential there in the slightly dry version left over from yesterday. Well it was early and they hadn’t had a chance to cook fresh ones and re-stock, so I reassured myself that the pie would keep for my next visit.

The brioche doughnut balls with salted caramel, pistachios, chantilly cream and sauce sounded amazing, but I wasn’t in the mood for sweets so went for an old fave, scrambled eggs on toast. This was a huge serving of eggs, soft and somewhat sloppy as you can see in the photo. As someone who’s not keen on runny eggs, I was a bit trepidatious about my breakfast, but the eggs continued to cook through in their own heat, and they were delicious with their smattering of chopped chives and sprinkling of cracked pepper.

Egg went for a simple plate of poached eggs on sourdough toast, and was rewarded with eggs that were soft and runny as she preferred them.

Fortunately Egg’s son saved the day by ordering the brioche doughnut balls which I managed to sample. When you blog about food, you really do need accommodating friends who are happy to give up part of their meals for your benefit 🙂  Anyhoo, the flavour combo of the doughnuts and the sweet sauce, citrus, luscious cream and crunchy nuts, was a good one, though I do think this would be a rich dish to eat on your own at 7.30am!

Layup boasts a range of toasties, wraps and burgers with some non-traditional fillings, as well as their tempting house-made pies and sausage rolls. It’s easy to see why it has become one of Perth’s new favourite breakfast spots in recent months, and it’s roomier and  easier to get into than Sayers Sister just around the corner which is always freakishly busy.

 

Layup Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Grand Bar & Bistro, Perth CBD

20160322_185512This quiet, unpretentious restaurant sits above a busy bar in the heart of Perth’s CBD. When I’d been to the bar previously for post-work drinks, I hadn’t even realised the restaurant upstairs existed. It’s a small, refined space serving good food at reasonable prices, and it’s a bit of a respite from the bustling St Georges Tce.

The menu is contemporary, and despite its brevity there are probably enough options to satisfy most palates.  Our starters of seared scallops with chorizo and pumpkin puree, and bruschetta with buffalo mozzarella, tomato, roasted capsicum, basil and balsamic, were fresh and well presented. The bruschetta in particular, showcased fresh produce served very simply.

My two friends were delighted with their main choice of the vegetarian risotto. This consisted of risotto made with wild forest mushrooms, crispy sage, baby spinach and feta, and was creamy, starchy and full flavoured. Naturally I had to sample it so can concur with their reports. I opted for the swordfish served with warm Mediterranean salad and crispy chickpea chips. I loved the chickpea chips – soft on the inside and deliciously crispy outside; an unusual but welcome offering. The swordfish was slightly overcooked , rendering it a bit chewy. That was disappointing as swordfish is one of my favourite types of fish, and it isn’t seen that often on restaurant menus. It’s a change from the interminable barramundi – what’s up with that?  It’s listed on nearly every menu in town, and for me it’s one of the most pedestrian varieties of fish out there, no matter whether it’s Cone Bay or however you dress it up. Grand Bar has it on their menu too I should add.

The dessert menu has 3 offerings, plus a cheese board. My choice was the chocolate moelleux with sugared berries and vanilla ice-cream. This is the Grand’s name for what is essentially chocolate fondant or lava pudding, but sadly it was cooked perhaps a minute too long and wasn’t as oozy as I like it.  My friends’ selection of the forest fruit cheesecake with lemon sorbet, was given a big thumbs up for its creamy, fruity flavour and texture.

Our experience overall was positive, and despite a few minor quibbles, we were satisfied customers.  The service was uber friendly and efficient, and as you’d expect from a restaurant above a bar, a good selection of wines by the glass. The prices were very reasonable, and there aren’t many eateries these days where you will find risotto for $23 or fish for $25.50.

Grand Bar and Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Barchetta, Cottesloe

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Brunch beachside = views of the Indian Ocean and the fresh salty smell that confirm all’s right with the world. Dining by the sea always reminds me how lucky we are to live in Perth.  Barchetta is one of several Cottesloe venues that highlight the beauty of Perth’s coastline, and I met a few friends here for lunch a few weeks ago when the Sculptures by the Sea was in full swing.

The brunch menu features some comfy old favourites like pancakes, avocado on toast, bircher muesli, and a few items with some interesting tweaks. I decided to try the poached eggs on ciabatta with dukkah, Danish feta and hummus, and was glad I did. The hummus worked well as a base for the eggs on the ciabatta, and the crunchy, spicy dukkah was a good contrast for the silky eggs. An all-round satisfying dish, enhanced by the peppery rocket. It’s amazing how a handful of rocket adds some zing to almost any dish, which I guess is why it’s included in so many dishes these days.

My friends chose the fried eggs with roasted tomato, spinach, and a side of bacon, which looked somewhat ordinary but which I was assured was fine, and another the muffin of the day; a monster creation full of strawberries and white chocolate.

The coffees were robust and hot, and I enjoyed the two long macs I had. I regretted ordering the pink passion juice however; as this woeful concoction of watermelon, strawberry and apple was watery and insipid and not worth the $7 .50 price tag.

Barchetta’s service was friendly and attentive and the food was served promptly, despite it being a busy day. Sitting outside on the verandah is the way to go, as you can maximise your view and build up an appetite breathing in all that lovely salty sea air. I’ve breakfasted at the Blue Duck adjacent to Barchetta, and it’s a much bigger venue with slow service and generally uninspiring food, so for an all-round superior experience I’d opt for Barchetta.

 

Barchetta Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

High tea at Origins

What gal doesn’t love a high tea complete with tiered trays of delicate little goodies, glasses of bubbly, and fine china cups of scented teas served by wait staff wearing pristine white gloves?  There are so many establishments serving high teas these days that it becomes a bit of a dilemma choosing one that stands out from the pack. Origins in the Pan Pacific has earned a reputation for serving up fine fare with excellent service, so our group of eight booked in with high expectations. We weren’t disappointed.

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The neutral decor, incandescent light fittings and expansive windows, combine to create a light, airy feeling, and the tall-backed chairs added to the comfort factor. Our wait-person introduced himself and started pouring bubbly without breaking stride. Gotta love a man who knows a way to a girl’s heart. Our first course was quickly presented: a refreshingly different glass of strawberry and basil gazpacho, a potato and seafood croquette, a tiny seafood tart with lovely buttery pastry, and a slice of something that I’m sure was delicious (everything was) but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was.

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Tea was poured into our china cups and the bubbly continued to flow freely. Whilst teas were selected according to the food served, you could choose any others from the tea menu. Lychee was the crowd favourite. When our tiered plates arrived the oohs and aahs were audible, and I’m happy to say the goodies tasted as scrumptious as they looked.

The bottom tier held the savoury treats: coronation chicken sandwiches, smoked salmon open sandwiches, cheese and sweet chutney rounds, and mashed egg on brioche.

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The second tier of chocolate mud cake with pretty pink icing, chocolate mousse cups and squares of lemon-layered sponge, was equally enticing.

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The top tier was reserved for the ubiquitous scones, and these light little creations were the chocolate chip variety, served of course with whipped cream and pots of jam. Another mini chocolate tart kept it company on the top tier.

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Origins was a fun experience, made all the better by a few glasses of sparkling and good quality food. All of this loveliness was ours for the reasonable cost of $49 per person. Ours was the first and the cheaper of two Sunday sittings, and it all ran like a well-oiled machine, albeit a very delicious one. We all concurred that this is one of the better quality high tea venues with charming and efficient service, thoughtful and delicious food offerings, and a refined but relaxing atmosphere. I can’t think of a better way to spend a lazy Sunday.

Origins Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Habitue, North Fremantle

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Set in a converted house on Harvest Rd, Habitue was the perfect lunch spot on a sunny afternoon. Underneath the leafy canopy shading the front courtyard, Scotty and I enjoyed the casual atmosphere and excellent food on offer. Another courtyard out the back looked very inviting, and I could picture the different rooms inside coming alive in the evening.

Habitue’s menu is perfect for sharing, so we selected several dishes that were so darn good that we wished we could have fit in several more. The zucchini flowers with fromage blanc and basil was a no-brainer choice for us. For some reason you rarely see these on menus here and we were excited to try them. I wonder what happens to all those lovely flowers on zucchini plants; do they just get tossed out? Seems a damn shame as you could play around with the fillings and batters and they’d be great starters for dinner parties. I digress…. This version with light batter was creamy with the soft, warm fromage blanc filling, crunchy with the light batter and perfectly complemented by the subtle basil dressing.

Chargrilled tiger prawns were served with creamy Israeli couscous and shavings of fresh fennel.  We loved the crunchy, smokey WA prawns and the contrasting fresh flavours of the fennel and fresh dill.

Everyone seems to have their own version of cauliflower these days, and Habitue’s was a revelation. Served with smashed dates, chick peas and pureed almond paste, the cauli was redolent with cumin, and served a lovely toasty roasted brown colour. Dee-Licious.

Hand-cut chips was our final choice – a pedestrian choice perhaps, but still scrumptious served fat and crispy, and accompanied by celery salt and aioli. All in all, a very satisfying luncheon .

Naturally we had to sample one of the sweet treats on offer, so we shared the chocolate marquis with malted milk and salted caramel macadamias. The chocolate marquis was rich but light in texture, and well matched with the salted caramel macadamias. Whilst we appreciated the flavour of malted milk, we felt it might have been improved if it was a bit thicker, rather than being served as frothy but runny milk. A minor quibble, as the dessert itself was delicious and beautifully presented.

Habitue was a delight. The setting, the cheerful service, and the food; all were brilliant. Our only grumble was with the price of wine – the cheapest glass was $12 and the cheapest bottle $56 ,which seems outrageous for a casual, non-five star restaurant. I don’t understand why we are forced to pay so much for wine in a country that produces so much good stuff at reasonable prices.

Habitue Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sardine, Seminyak

As you’d expect with such a fishy name, Sardine  restaurant specialises in fish and seafood. It’s bloody good quality stuff too, and our dinner was the highlight in a week filled with brilliant foodie experiences. From the moment you enter this Balinese-styled eatery, the service, the food and the drinks ooze style and class. If you’re savvy enough to book (we weren’t) you can request a table facing the rice paddy field that the back half of the restaurant looks over. This area gives reasonable respite from the heat, with the benefit of a gentle breeze wafting from the fields. Sadly for the patrons who didn’t have the sense to book (guilty as charged), being seated on the front side with a massive bamboo bar virtually cutting the restaurant in half, is akin to being placed in a sauna with no air flow and absolutely no respite from the heat. For some unfathomable reason, Sardine has elected to let its patrons swelter here without providing fans. I’m all for open-air restaurants that reflect the culture and architectural traditions of the host-land, but sometimes you just have to throw some mod cons into the equation to ensure your customers are comfortable. Sardine doesn’t do this, and sitting al fresco on a steamy night with 79% humidity and nothing to stir the still air, well, it’s almost too ridiculous for words. A few discreet electric ceiling fans would do wonders for the comfort of customers, and wouldn’t detract from the building’s visual appeal.

Anyway, on to the fabulous food. Fish features prominently on the menu, and although there are a few daily meat specials, it’s really all about the seafood. We three decided to share a few entrees and have a fish dish each to ourselves for our main.  We were served a basket of delectable bread with butter, and this was quickly followed by an amuse bouche of tender seared tuna with roe.

Our plate of kingfish and long-nosed emperor carpaccio was meltingly tender and beautifully complemented by mild chilli strips, citrus and black bamboo salt. Wow. Enter the Mediterranean grilled octopus salad with the softest octopus you’ve ever tasted, and a very generous serving to boot.

We each selected a different fish dish, with my choice being pan-seared kingfish on a bed of saffron risotto. I loved all the elements of this dish and the mild flavoured fish was  perfectly paired with the parmesan-infused risotto. TJ’s dish of pan roasted sea bass with blue crab ravioli was visually pleasing and another perfectly executed dish. Cam’s choice of barramundi steamed in a banana leaf with ginger and julienne vegetables paid homage to the flavours of Vietnam.

We sipped on our glasses of Cape Discovery Chardonnay at $55; a Balinese produced wine that we were very happy with, and one of the better quality local offerings.

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The dessert menu looked oh so appealing but we couldn’t fit in anything rich or heavy, so opted for the in-house sorbets and ice-cream. Mercy mercy, we were asked if we wanted to move  to the lounge area in front of the paddy field, and lo and behold, immediate relief from the heat. As we lounged around on the cane chairs we supped on our icy treats, marvelling at the exquisitely full and fruity flavour of the passionfruit sorbet. Made with the Balinese yellow passionfruit known as Markisa, this fruit is lushly perfumed and sweeter than the dark purple varieties we grow at home. Sitting in the breeze and gazing over the rice field, we couldn’t have been more content.

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Sardine was a fabulous dining experience and one I recommend you savour for yourself. If it wasn’t for the issue of lack of fans – and I gather that is for reasons of aesthetics – it would have been the perfect experience.  Sardine is also open for lunch and you can choose from the main menu or the small tapas menu while gazing over the green paddy field in the daylight hours. We tried to get back there again to do this, but alas, there are only so many restaurants you can fit in a short trip.


Sardine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lantern, Seminyak

Lantern may not have a particularly comely appearance from the road, but step inside and this self-proclaimed “Urban Asian Eatery” will quickly enthral you. With its mix of Asian cuisines – think Malaysian, Vietnamese, Indonesian , Thai and Indian – and cheap prices, it looked promising. Lantern had been recommended by another foodie, and we were keen to see if it lived up to its reputation.

There’s a cooler indoor section if Bali’s humidity is getting to you, and an outdoor/smokers area for the brave or the addicted. We sat at the back near the counter, and admired the mixed decor with its wall paintings, lanterns, cane furniture, lattice work and splashes of bright yellow. We ordered drinks and a complimentary dish of tiny peanuts was served. Drinks were cheap, and we alternated between deliciously minty lychee mojitos and Balinese white wine (surprisingly good).

As we were intent on savouring our own dishes, we each ordered our own mains, rather than sharing, though Lantern’s food is ideal for just that. TJ’s Penang Chicken  Curry with roti had him singing its praises, and as a Malaysian born aficionado of Penang curries, he knows a good one when he eats it. My Sindhi Biryani was light (unlike many versions I’ve eaten) and tasty – filled with morsels of tender yoghurt-coated chicken pieces, and scattered with raisins, cashews, fresh coriander and fried onions.  Cam wasn’t as enamoured with her 12-hour  Pho, though she couldn’t write put her finger on why except to say that it was a bit….beefy. All of that slow cooking no doubt intensified the flavours and I daresay lovers of strong meaty flavours would love it.  Our one shared dish of fried Vietnamese chicken spring rolls was light and crispy, and came with a good dipping sauce.

We were too full to sample dessert, and despite our best intentions to return for another meal, we just couldn’t fit it in. We did manage to drop in for cold drinks on our way back to the hotel the next afternoon though, and I have to say that my Ruby Red drink of cranberry and soda was one of the scrummiest drinks I had in Bali.  The service was excellent both times, and the experience great value for money. Everything that came out of the kitchen looked amazing, and I’ll just have to be content with waiting for my next trip to Bali to discover some of the other dishes on the menu.

I would heartily recommend Lantern for singles, couples, small groups and families. It’s a small space and you may have to wait for a table, but you can find something to appeal to all tastes on the menu, and you’ll be rewarded with super smiles, delicious food and value for money. Winner!

 

Lantern Bali Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Grocer & Grind, Seminyak

Although most of our dinner venues were selected beforehand, many of our lunch experiences were serendipitous. It’s amazing when you think you can stumble into any cafe or restaurant in Seminyak and be fairly sure you’re going to have a good experience.

And so it was with Grocer and Grind, near Seminyak Village. We liked the look of the place and once inside the air-conditioned section, were pleased with the menu options. There’s quite a range of brunch and lunch options, including salads, home-made pies, sandwiches and Asian-type fare. There’s also a range of cakes and desserts that we sadly didn’t have room for.

My fresh tuna nicoise salad was crisp, delicious and perfect for a hot day. Washed down with a fragrant lychee granita, I couldn’t have been happier. TJ went for a hot dish of laksa (forgot to take a snap of that one) which he devoured with gusto.

Although we wanted to return for brunch, we never made it back. Oh well, there’s always next time. Loved the feeling of space at Grocer & Grind, the psychedelic wall mural, the comfy cushions and the wall of windows. Oh, and the food and service were excellent too.

Recommended for brunch or lunch or anything in between.

 

Grocer & Grind Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Frankensteins

Definitely not your typical Bali experience, Frankenstein’s Laboratory packs in the revellers. These revellers seemed to be mainly Aussies, with several large families, a hen’s party and groups of female friends in the mix. We were a bit nervous to find that our reserved table was smack bang in front of the stage and were sure we’d be in for a bit of something uncomfortable. As it turns out, when we declined the offer to have our photos taken with the ghouls who do the cabaret act, we were told we had to be judges. Judges of the screams made by the groups who came up for the next hour to have their pics taken with the ghouls. Jason, the host of Frankensteins, did a sterling job in getting the many groups on and off the stage, and encouraging them to scream as if their lives depended on it.

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When our two Balinese friends joined us, they were a bit bemused by the whole set up. Being the only non-tourists in the place, I don’t know whether they were taken aback by the whole shebang, or just politely appalled by it. They probably did question why there were no other locals there, but I guess this is the sort of novelty venue that appeals to people on holiday.

After the photo sessions, the first cabaret act ensued, with a tribute to Michael Jackson. Two other cabaret acts follow during the evening – a Beetlejuice and a Rocky Horror tribute. Rocky Horror was our pick for the evening, with the cabaret act getting right into the spirit of things, and the guy dressed as Franknfurter doing a brilliant job in his stilletoes and suspenders.

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In between the stage shenanigans, we ordered our meals consisting of burgers, fries and a pizza. The burgers fell apart, and were tasteless and ordinary, and none of us finished them. The fries were limp and the worst I can remember eating for a while. I didn’t try the pizza, but it was large and cheesy and looked ok. It’s not hard to make decent fries, but I think the emphasis at Frankensteins is on getting the food out quickly, and quality doesn’t enter the equation.

Drinks here are served in blood bags and syringes, and they’re very cheap. I stuck with the local wine (not bad actually) at $6.90 a glass. We had to constantly flag down wait staff, who seemed more concerned with chatting to each other at the bar than making sure the patrons were being served.

The Monster Band played a few sets of music in between the cabaret acts. We were pleasantly surprised by just how good the band was, with quality vocals and musicianship. They were far better than the bands we heard playing up on Eat St on Saturday night, and they didn’t have to try too hard to entice folks up on the dance floor.
Despite our initial misgivings, we had a really fun night. I guess this place isn’t for everyone, but it really suits families and big groups. Everyone was there to have fun, and have fun they did. Don’t go to Frankenstein’s for the food, although I’m sure some people would be happy enough with what’s on offer. We’d been to some incredible eateries and this wasn’t one of them. It was however, a rollicking good night with cheap booze, fun entertainment, and a room full of people who wanted nothing except to have a good time. There’s no cover charge and it’s an unusual and fun way to spend an evening in Bali.

So come up to the lab and see what’s on the slab…..

Frankensteins Laboratory Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chandi

Chandi on the popular Eat Street strip was a spontaneous lunch decision. We were steaming hot, needed a cold drink and more of a snack than a meal, and it looked cool and inviting.

Another large, airy restaurant with wooden furniture, crisp white tablecloths, lots of greenery and some funky design features, Chandi hit the mark for us and we were sorry we didn’t have time to return to try something more substantial.

I ordered satay sticks – you can choose any combination of two – of  butter fish and charcoal lilit duck. The duck satay in particular was delicious and I could have eaten several more. TJ and Cam shared a plate of fries with aioli and sauce, and a dish of rice cracker butter shrimp balls.

Although we didn’t sample main dishes, we were impressed with the food, the classy atmosphere and the eye-catching splashback board behind the bar. Overall, a good experience and recommended.


Chandi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Potato Head, Seminyak

My visions of a large spud with blue shoes and a moustache were dispelled immediately on arriving at Potato Head. “That’s Mr Potato Head you were thinking of” my friend TJ said, “and they’re not quite the same”. Indeed they’re not. The beach-front restaurant at Seminyak is a sophisticated, chilled venue with brilliant service, good food, and views people pay a fortune for. The restaurant  forms a sort of semicircle,and you can choose to sit on the left or the right, depending on whether you want to order from an Asian-themed menu or a Western one. We arrived without a booking and the congenial and efficient staff managed to find us a fabulous spot on a long table looking directly out at the ocean. As we sat down at twilight time we were already impressed, and we hadn’t even looked at a menu. The best was yet to come.

We loved the idea of choosing four starters for the price of AUD$20, and the range of starter options looked so appealing we had problems deciding on just four.

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We decided on roast duck red curry, fried tofu sambal curry, fish carpaccio and golden prawn balls, served with a bowl of rice. All of the dishes were good, although the fish carpaccio was sliced so finely that we could barely taste it. This was a fabulous way to sample a range of dishes without spending a fortune.

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The one area that disappointed us was with the cocktails. We ordered long island iced teas, but they were insipid and watery and didn’t deliver the knockout punch you expect from this drink. For our second round we ordered the Prohibition Iced Tea  for two from the Indo Classic cocktail menu, and the presentation of this in a teapot with mist swirling out of it, was a fun concept. This was more robust with better flavours than our first version but didn’t quite hit the mark, though we definitely felt a bit of a buzz.

As the light faded and people continued to cavort in the swimming pool (attached to the Potato Head Hotel), in front of us, we ordered a main dish of pan fried potato gnocchi which was lip smackingly good. With pureed roasted pumpkin, candied pine nuts, black pepper parmesan and sage butter, all of the elements of this dish complemented each other, and it was one of the best gnocchi dishes we’ve tried.

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Finally we chose two desserts to share: cassava fritters with ice cream, and a deconstructed pannacotta with mango sorbet and passionfruit. We loved the crispy caramelised batter of the cassava fritters, and the fruity flavours contrasting with the creamy texture of the pannacotta.

TJ and I loved our Potato Head experience and enjoyed several contented, relaxed hours there. It’s a complete experience, and if you’re lucky enough to be there for a sunset, so much the better. The ambience, the venue, the food, the staff – kudos to all of them. Our drinks may have missed the mark, but we wouldn’t have missed the experience for the world.

 

Potato Head Beach Club Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Livingstone Cafe & Bakery, Seminyak

This warehouse-type bakery and cafe became one of our two go-to spots for brunch. We loved that there was heaps of room, magazines to read, and comfy couches if you were feeling lazy. We first visited late one afternoon and ordered coffee and cake, and decided we had to come back to sample the brunch. We also tried some of the baked goods that always looked delicious. Cronuts, doughnuts, croissants and Danish pastries are made fresh every day, as well as a range of breads (including their famous watermelon bread) and patisserie items. Their fresh juices were fruity and ice cold (lychee juice especially delicious), and their coffee was good albeit not hot enough the first time around. On the second visit when I asked them to make it extra hot,  it was perfect. There is a bright, roomy upstairs area that has another cafe counter and doubles as a shop. This seems to be the space where people sit working on their laptops, whiling away the hours.

We tried the nasi goreng kampung (excellent), smoked salmon smorrebrod (good), scrambled eggs (one of the better versions), brioche French toast (toast was too fat and this wasn’t a visually appealing dish) and chocolate almond croissants (preferred just the plain almond almond filling) for brunch over the time we were there. The meals were fresh and well presented with reasonable prices. Despite the cast of thousands comprising the staff, we often had to wave our arms to get their attention. This is probably the only criticism of Livingstone – the staff were not well trained in picking up cues from patrons; often milling about and chatting and not paying attention to the needs of the customers. However the variety of food is wide, the quality of food generally very good, the space is bright and airy, and it’s the perfect spot for dining solo, as a couple, or in a group.

Recommended for brunch, coffee and cake, or an in-between-meals snack.

Livingstone Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Biku, Seminyak

Biku Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The food scene in Bali has evolved in a huge way since I last visited. I was impressed by the stylish and sophisticated venues, many of them housed in expansive buildings with large windows, vaulted ceilings and natural light. The Indonesian and other Asian foods, western foods, baked goods, fruit juices and coffees were outstanding for the most part, and on most occasions, the service was efficient and friendly.

With my two companions, TJ and Cam, we worked our way through as many eateries as we could fit in a week, and re-visited our favourites several times. We bemoaned the fact that we couldn’t eat more, as our list of appealing cafes and restaurants grew longer by the day and there’s only so much y’all can eat in one day, right? Where we couldn’t eat much except a snack, we tried the fresh juices or the cocktails, or had cake and coffee. Overall our dining adventures were fun and fruitful, and we came home with a determination to explore our missed wish-list options the next time we visit.

We first visited Biku for afternoon tea, stumbling upon it whilst doing a recky of the area near our hotel. Housed in a traditional wooden building with Balinese furniture and exposed beams, Biku oozes warmth. Vases of fresh flowers, wooden carvings and shelves filled with knick-knacks and books added to the homely atmosphere. Too full to indulge in Biku’s celebrated high tea, we opted for slices of cake and coffee.  The coffee was good as was the banana cake – moist and full of flavour. The cakes all have that home-made look about them, in a good way. Sort of like the cakes and sweet pies and tarts my nanna used to bake. We loved our experience so much that we booked in for dinner that same evening.
When we returned at 8.30pm the place was packed and we were glad we’d booked. Our choice for dinner was a no-brainer. We’d been hanging out for nasi campur, and we were confident of getting a top notch version here. We weren’t disappointed, and it was as good as the best we’ve tried before. I substituted the beef rendang for a fish satay, and all of the dish’s components of kancung, tempeh, tofu, satay lilit chicken, spicy shredded chicken,r, spiced egg and sambals were fresh and delicious. Amazingly too, we were served within 15 minutes of ordering, despite the place being packed. We prefaced our mains with an order of chicken lumpia, the Indonesian fried spring rolls, and they were similarly delicious.

My Capiroska cocktail was made with rum instead of vodka, and it went down a treat.  The service was pleasant and switched on. The owner is part Balinese, part Australian, and he knows how to run a tight ship without forsaking the relaxed atmosphere Bali is known for. We thought the service was excellent, with smiles from every one of the many staff who work the Biku floor. They were on the ball and seemed to anticipate whenever we needed something.  I can see why this place is so popular, and I’d make a beeline here any time I visit Bali.

Their in-house cakes and desserts looked  a treat in the display cabinet, and I daresay the high tea would be memorable. There’s a range of food to suit every palate, with plenty of Western options if you don’t fancy another Indonesian meal. Highly recommended for lunch, afternoon tea or dinner. Bookings for dinner are pretty much essential if you want to be guaranteed a table.

Casa Bianchi

Casa Bianchi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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In the cool green space that was once a nursery, Casa Bianchi in Mt Hawthorn beckons like a calm oasis. Complete with murmuring fountains, koi fish, verdant ferns and trees, shady umbrellas and chilled music, you instantly forget that you are in the midst of a busy inner suburb. I don’t know of any other eatery in Perth that provides such a tranquil and soothing environment. It has the effect of lulling you into a state of calmness, and even though my phone didn’t work while I was there, I think that’s part of the magic of this place.

I chose to sit out in the garden area, although you could classify the entire venue as a garden. There are leafy nooks and corners all around, as well as the main area under the roof where you line up and order your food at the counter. Though nothing out of the box, the food is always fresh and the juices are deliciously revitalising.

I ordered the savoury French toast with avocado and onion relish, and freshly squeezed fruit juice. It was a generous serve of avocado, and while the dish itself wouldn’t win any culinary awards, it was perfectly adequate for my mid-morning solo dining experience. I sipped on my juice and enjoyed the soothing sound of the fountain and the tranquility of the space. I could have sat there all day with my book, but alas, I had work to do.

I thoroughly recommend Casa Bianchi for a quiet, leisurely brunch or afternoon tea. It’s not often that I recommend a cafe based on the venue itself, but this is an exception. I guarantee you will love sitting amongst the frangipanis, sipping a coffee and savouring a quiet moment. There is a range of cakes and sweet treats available, so it’s perfect for that afternoon pick-me-up, with or without a friend.

Chu Bakery

Chu Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Because of its handy location opposite Hyde Park, Chu Bakery usually has a slew of hungry lunchers squeezed inside its tiny shop front, picking up a few treats to picnic with. There is no space to eat in, but why would you want to anyway with lovely parkland across the road?

It took me a long time to visit Chu but when I did, it opened the flood gates. Needless to say, I’ve been back several times to try different goodies, and this post is an accumulation of those. You don’t think I ate all of these at one time do you? Naturally my son Alex has also aided and abetted me in my quest to sample as many of Chu’s products as possible.

The choux puffs are delectable. The fillings are creamy and the puffs are more substantial than the usual pedestrian choux puffs. Meaning they have more taste and texture. We’ve tried the peanut butter and jelly version, but the sweet and fragrant lychee and raspberry puff was the standout.

The eclairs at Chu are on a different level to most others I’ve tried (with only bites by D being comparable). Whilst the chocolate filling was scrumptious, the hazelnut filling was sublime.   The vanilla cream doughnut was a winner in Alex’s eyes, though I thought the actual doughnut could have been sweeter. Kudos to Chu for using real vanilla beans in the patisserie filling.

My favourite though, was the almond croissant. Now I am a devoted seeker-outer of almond croissants and have not found one locally to match the ones I devoured daily in the bakeries in France. Chu’s version was an absolute winner. The pastry was crisp and meltingly buttery, and the almond filling moist and delicious. Wow. A 10 out of 10 for this one.

Chu also does baguettes and toasties which run out the door at lunchtime. Alex enjoyed the yummy thick sourdough slices in his ham and cheese toasty, though I’ve not yet sampled them. The one thing that disappointed me at Chu was the coffee. My long mac topped up came in a cup the size of a mini paper cup at a water dispenser, and was only 3/4 full.  I’d asked for a large one and for $4.50 I felt ripped off. I know some places serve small macs but this was ridiculously Lilliputian.

That gripe aside, the sweet things on offer at Chu are compensatory. If you’re passing by William St in Highgate, pop in and grab a few bites for morning tea. Oh, and they bake a pretty mean loaf of bread too 🙂