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

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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

tbsp.

tbsp. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Taking a cue from its Maylands neighbour, the old suburb of Bayswater finally appears to be undergoing a slow but steady renaissance. Several of the tired and shabby shop fronts have been replaced by new cafes such as tbsp, Drip Espresso and the Artisan Market Cafe. It’s long overdue Baysie, but better late than never.

Tbsp, referred to in everyone’s parlance as ‘tablespoon’, sets the standard in this hood. Its funky menu is appealing and different to the usual brunch and lunch offerings. The uber-friendly staff really seal the deal. This bunch of young’uns at front of house are a breath of fresh air, and know how to make you feel welcome.

Forget any ideas about typical eggs on toast, porridge and avocado smash here.  How about a cheese and kimchi toasty, beef brisket with poached eggs and beer braised onions, and slices of pandan cake and savoury curry loaf?

We loved it so much we visited twice in the last fortnight. Alex was so enamoured of the fried chicken sandwich that he ordered the same thing the second time. A succulent fried chicken thigh wedged in a soft brioche bun with an Asian-type slaw, was accompanied by a mountain of fries. Even the fries were seasoned with a tasty salt mix.

My rice congee with confit chicken, slow-cooked egg, chicken crackling and spring onions was liberally doused in a quality sesame oil that brought the flavours and textures together. I’ve always loved this comfort dish but Tbsp’s version really brought the house down.

The pumpkin tartine I tried on my first visit was a beautifully coloured dish of orange pumpkin, green pesto and pepitas, pink pickled onion and white fennel, and almost too pretty to eat. But I managed.

Their drinks offerings are also a tad unusual. My cold drip coffee with tonic water was quenching and refreshing, and Alex loved his tea concoction of strawberry and basil flavours.

Tbsp oozes friendliness and casual innovation. It’s wonderful to find a little suburban spot where nothing is ordinary and everything aspires to be extraordinary. It’s a hard act to emulate, but I’m hopeful that others in the all-day breakfast menu lineup, will be inspired to lift their game and produce similar magic.

Sauma

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My intro into the world of Indian cuisine and people at the age of 17 opened a whole new world for me – this uneducated Australian palate screamed “where have you been all my life??!!” I sat for hours at the kitchen table, transfixed, as my future mother-in-law showed me how to make flaky parathas the traditional spiral way, how to hang salted lemon pieces in muslin in the sun to cure them for pickles, how to throw a spoonful of panch phora and coconut into a dish of cabbage and beans and transform it into a fragrant treat, how to soak tamarind in water and strain it to make pepper water, and how to mix various spices together to make masalas for different curries. A heady world of tastes and smells that introduced my palate to things that I had never heard of, much less eaten. Spices in Australia then comprised the standard cloves for apple pies, mixed herbs for meatballs, and Keen’s curry powder for curried mince and for egg sandwiches. Chillies? No-one had heard of them, much less eaten them. I still eat my egg sandwiches that old way, but this initiation into Indian cuisine opened my mind and my taste buds to so many new food experiences. I still get a thrill over trying a new recipe or being introduced to a new flavour or texture or cooking method.

Sauma, the new, hip Indian restaurant in town – how would that measure up? Hip isn’t a word generally used to describe Indian restaurants but it’s been bandied around in the same sentence as Sauma, so I was excited at the prospect of  exploring Indian street food, and dishes with a modern twist. Hell, you can twist Indian food any way you like really; there are so many possible flavour combinations, that this cuisine is ripe for innovation and experimentation. Sauma presents Indian feasts for groups, so for $55 each you can sample a cross section of starters and mains. Perfect way to sample a range of what’s on offer.

I have tried countless versions of onion bhaji over the years, but this is the best I have tried. Ever. Anywhere.  The beer batter is probably the killer secret, as the bhajis were crunchy and light with just the right amount of onion, deep fried in good oil, and with perfect spicing and seasoning. I could happily return, order a beer,  munch on a plate of these lovelies, and think I was the luckiest person in the world.

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The bang bang chicken is Sauma’s spin on the traditional Tandoori chicken. More subtly flavoured than tandoori, the bang bang was bang on. Succulent oven-cooked chicken pieces with hints of cumin and garlic; this was another dish that had me wanting more.

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The lamb ribs were scoffed with gusto by my fellow diners, amid messy fingers and the satisfied smacking of lips. As a non-lamb lover I didn’t try these, but the sweet tamarind and chilli marinade rib dish was a winner for the rest of the table.

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Our final starter of roast mushrooms was a fabulous example of India-meets-modern.  The field mushrooms had been tandoor oven-roasted and served with roasted cashews, pomegranate seeds and garlic on a golden saffron sauce. Another dish I’d be happy to polish off by myself. The mere mouthful we each got was only a teasing little snippet of this glorious dish.

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The curries arrived in quick succession, starting with Shark Bay prawns. Redolent with tamarind, curry leaves and cumin, this was my favourite curry. The prawns were chunky and squeaky fresh, and the pieces of eggplant really soaked up the flavours of the curry sauce. The problem with eating a dish like this in a group of eight though, means you get a mere one prawn each. One prawn! Hardly enough to whet your whistle, let alone your appetite.

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The mountain-style goat curry naturally enough was a big hit with the men at the table. Give the men meat, and they are happy little Vegemites. Another non-event for me, as goat isn’t on my list of things-I-like-to-eat.

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Winter vegetable curry was the least exciting dish of the evening. Much as I love veggie curry, it’s really just an everyday sort of dish for me and in a sea of other curries in gravy, it became somewhat lost. I would have preferred a punchy dry potato dish with mustard and cumin seeds, some okra, or some Keralan-style cabbage, if only to provide some contrast to the other curries with gravy. Even though the fried sweet potato added textural interest to the dish, it wasn’t enough to excite me.

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Butter chicken here, butter chicken there, butter chicken everywhere. Everyone loves this dish and it’s easy to see why. Cooked properly, you have your tender pieces of marinated tandoori-style chicken, served in a mild but rich, creamy gravy.
I’ve mentioned before that this is the one dish I prefer not to order when I dine at Indian restaurants as the quality varies so much, and because I find it to be one of the least interesting Indian dishes. I’d much rather try a chicken dish with different flavouring – a vindaloo, a dhansak, or a methi curry. Sauma’s version was pleasant and everyone else was satisfied with it. For me, it was missing that overnight-marinated smoky flavour, but then I’m hard to please when it comes to this dish.

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Sauma was an interesting culinary adventure and I enjoyed the innovation shown in some of the dishes. I much preferred the starters to the curries, because this was where the creativity of the chefs really shone. Dining in a group of eight probably wasn’t the best introduction because it meant having only a small sample of each dish; but then that has simply encouraged me to return with just a friend or two. Although the dishes are tapas style and designed to be shared, I think it would work better in a small group.  Sauma’s service is top notch, the atmosphere congenial, and the concept welcome.  I suggest you forego the standard Indian curries, and try some of the more unusual and exotic creations, along with a street food favourite like the outstanding onion bhaji.  With a beer to two to wash it down 🙂

 

http://www.sauma.com.au

 

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

Low Key Chow House

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Dining at Low Key Chow House in a group means you can opt for the fixed price menu for $55 pp and have food coming at you from every direction. I’m not exaggerating when I say that once the food train started it never let up, and our group of 10 was completely stuffed to the gills with a range of amazing food.

This trendy Leederville bar and restaurant is always busy and the noise levels can be uncomfortable at times, although the crowds tend to thin out as the evening wears on and people move on to the nearby pubs.

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The selection of wine by the glass is quite limited but I was happy enough with a few glasses of the Saint Clair SB. A bowl of spiced peanuts is served once you order drinks. Shortly thereafter the appetisers start their onslaught and before you know it, the table is groaning with food….and that’s just for starters.

Pok Pok wings, an Asian version of buffalo wings, was suitably spicy and disappeared within seconds. Who doesn’t love buffalo wings?

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Mantou buns, a modern twist on steamed pork buns, were filled with candied caramel pork belly and peanuts. A fluffy white pancake with delicious pork belly; a definite crowd pleaser.

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The pork dumplings of the day were done gyoza style; crispy pan fried on one side.

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Vietnamese style beef patties were served with herbs, pickled cucumber and black bean sauce in lettuce. Remember we’re still at appetiser stage here – and I would have been content to quietly sip my wine and call it a night as far as food goes. But one soldiers on….

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Enter the big guns, accompanied by a plate of various pickles and accompaniments.

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And a Thai som tum salad.

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Beef with a black pepper sauce. The menu seems to change quite often, and what will be a beef dish one day will be pork  the next time.

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Beef rump seared on coals, served with kimchi and hot sauce.

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Blue spotted emperor – my favourite dish of the evening – beautifully cooked with soft flesh that just melted in your mouth. I haven’t had fish like this since I travelled through Vietnam.

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Hmmm. I honestly can’t remember what this dish was and I didn’t make note of it. Obviously another dish to make the hearts of carnivores soar! The men in our group were very content, needless to say.

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Rich Nonya style chicken curry with potatoes, served with roti.

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Another chicken dish – lemongrass chicken – cooked with coconut and chilli – light and flavourful.

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At this point we thought we couldn’t possibly stuff another morsel of food in our mouths. Someone had bagged the leftovers of huge amounts of meat, so at least the food wasn’t going to waste. But we had no idea that we’d be served three different desserts. I love desserts and always try to leave room for it, but all I could manage was a few mouthfuls. Sad to say that my friends were pretty much the same. I forgot to photograph one dessert that comprised deep fried ice-cream parcels with caramel sauce.

The sticky date pudding with ice-cream and butterscotch sauce looked tempting and tasted beautiful. I love it when desserts come with rivers of butterscotch sauce.

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The sago pudding with gula melaka was a delightful concoction of smooth balls of sago with the dark richness of palm sugar syrup and the lushness of coconut cream. Simple but delicious, and I’d order this on its own next time.

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Other things I forgot to photograph – rice, roti, wok fried greens and tofu with mixed vegetables. As you can tell it was a huge amount of food and in most cases, there were two plates of each provided, one at each end of the table. I’ve never seen a table so full of food. Too much food actually. Whilst you feel satisfied that you are getting your money’s worth, it does encourage over-eating, and no-one wants to leave a restaurant feeling gorged. Well, I don’t anyway.

I’m not complaining however. It was a night of brilliant Asian cuisine, good cheerful service and bonhomie. If you visit in a group, the set menu is definitely the way to go. The sheer variety of food cooked street style, wok fried or on the coals, is amazing and solves the dilemma of having to choose multiple dishes to please everyone. This really takes the hard work out of group dining. Come with empty stomachs and don’t eat so much of the mains that you miss out on dessert, as they are worth waiting for too.

http://keepitlowkey.com.au

Low Key Chow House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Gaya

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The Gaya is one of the most talked about eateries in town, and with good reason. Chef and owner Leo has extended a generous invitation to a slew of Perth bloggers to dine in his restaurant, and I was lucky enough to be part of that experience.

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The menu is Korean fusion and offers the stalwarts of Korean cuisine like kimchi and savoury pancakes, but then gives them a contemporary twist.

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Unfortunately the Gaya decor is a bit cold and uninspiring. Although there are touches of Korean whimsy dotted around the walls of the venue, it still feels somewhat stark.

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Scotty, one of my regular dining pals, was my foodie partner for the evening and eager to sample Korean cuisine. She’s never tasted kimchi and this was at the top of her list. It was a quiet and rainy Thursday night when we visited, and the hordes had obviously stayed at home.

Our meal started with a Korean version of amuse bouche – a plate of homemade potato chips and cheese puffs.

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The beef cream rolls were filled with asparagus, cream cheese, capsicum, enoki mushrooms and cucumber, and garnished with fried garlic chips. The beef was tender and this unusual combination of ingredients worked well together.

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The Gaya has several varieties of savoury pancakes (jijimi), and the kimchi jijimi sounded intriguing.  Scotty also thought this would be an appropriate and gentle intro to the world of kimchi. Whilst the kimchi flavour remained strong, the dish was interesting and not at all like you’re eating a plate of knock-your-socks-off kimchi. Scotty often dislikes very strong-flavoured salty foods like olives and anchovies, but she really enjoyed this dish.  I have to say though that if I had my druthers, my preference would be for the Korean seafood pancake, a firm favourite of mine.

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Next up was the Gaya T & P steak, a dish of lightly grilled tuna accompanied by two giant tiger prawns on a bed of fennel salad and a side of pureed celeriac. This is one of those simple dishes where the emphasis is on the freshness and quality of the ingredients, and it was a welcome change from the richness of the other dishes. I can’t say if this is a typical Korean dish, but the seafood was fresh and grilled perfectly.

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Our final main dish was the Gaya duck, a successful fusion dish that marries the exquisite moistness of duck with brown and orange rice, pineapple and a light chilli sauce. This was my favourite dish of the night; I adore duck in various incarnations and this was unlike any duck dish I’ve had previously. The presentation was beautiful and the flavours complemented each other very well.

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As lovers of tiramisu, Scotty and I decided we couldn’t possibly leave without trying the Korean fusion version of Redmisu made with red bean paste. Truth to tell, we were both pretty stuffed at this point but we managed to share one of these and were glad we did. It’s still creamy and decadent like your traditional tiramisu, but with a subtle flavour twist.

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The Gaya was an enjoyable experience, enhanced by our waitress’s helpful dish suggestions.  Although this was a complimentary meal, my opinions are my own (and Scotty’s of course) and they are honest and reflective of our experience.  We would happily return as paying customers.

https://www.facebook.com/Thegayaapplecross

The Gaya on Urbanspoon

Chilli Orange

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Along the increasingly popular Angove St strip sits Chilli Orange, coolly beckoning with its Asian fusion menu, its funky wavy wooden ceiling and its Tuesday night $45 degustation offer. That of course is what tempted me and a group of companions a few weeks ago. What better way to test a restaurant’s metier than by sampling a selection of its dishes at a really reasonable price?

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The evening began on a promising note but as time ticked on and the restaurant filled to capacity, the three wait staff appeared woefully overworked. Trying to get someone’s attention to order glasses of wine proved a Herculean effort and at times we had to resort to doing windmill imitations in our seats.

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Our first course arrived within about 30 minutes of being seated and was warmly welcomed. Pieces of tender roasted duck with slivers of crisp vegetables and a slice of red chilli, were wrapped in thin pancakes and dipped in hoisin sauce. Murmurings of approval all round.

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The next course of soft shelled crab with wasabi mayo followed after a 40 minute interval. It’s a long wait between courses here, but that’s not too awful if a) you’re in good company, and b) the wine is flowing. Well as mentioned above, the wine was trickling rather than flowing, but we didn’t die. In fact we were having rather a good time, and so was everyone else judging by the ascending noise level in this little place. You would think the wooden ceiling and wall would cushion the noise, but strangely it didn’t. The crunchy deep-fried crab was crisp and not oily – the bed of peppery rocket foiled the richness of the crab and the mild wasabi mayo complimented it well enough.

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Others at my table dined next on the seared rare beef tatsoi salad with chilli, orange and blackbean dressing, and it looked sharp and refreshing with its green leaves and onion and radish slices.

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My course was a different matter. There’s always the danger when you request changes to a degustation menu, that you’ll end up with inferior options to your dining companions. Not wanting the red meat options, I was presented with a calamari substitute. This fried salt and pepper dish served with a side of sweet chilli sauce was my least favourite of the evening and was pedestrian at best. It didn’t help that it followed the previous deep fried course.

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Grilled swordfish with a salad of pink grapefruit, cucumber and fresh herbs was plated up next, and this was served with a lemon juice, chilli and fish sauce accompaniment. Although the fish was tender, the flavours in the sour sauce did nothing to complement the slight bitterness of the grapefruit. Something sweeter would have lifted this dish and balanced it out.

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Just when you couldn’t possibly imagine another course of fried something, out came my next dish of tempura prawns with soy sauce on the side. By this stage I was fried out, and as tasty as the prawns were, this sight made my ole heart sink. With the varied menu on offer at Chilli Orange and with a reasonable choice of grilled dishes, serving up three deep fried courses out of five was unnecessary and ill-thought out. The inclusion of a simple course of asparagus or a salad would have been welcome and far more suitable. However that’s often the way for diners whose dietary habits don’t conform to the norm. There were three on our table of eight who chose not to eat the meat options, and all concurred that we had drawn the short straws. It seemed a great pity too, as there are many interesting dishes on the Chilli Orange menu.

Our other five diners were very happy with their meal. Their fifth course of crisp pork belly was enthusiastically received, but I didn’t think to take a photo to share. There’s no doubt that the five entree-sized courses for $45 is good value for money, but it’s only good value if you enjoy all the courses and if the meal is balanced and well-thought out. For meat lovers that was definitely the case, but for the rest of us, the standard wasn’t the same.

I’d love to return to this restaurant to enjoy a less crowded and less noisy experience when it’s not degustation night and when the staff aren’t so harried. There’s a small but interesting wine list, and the a la carte menu sounds inventive and delicious. Fortunately this little place on Angove Street is only five minutes drive from home, so that makes a return visit easily achievable.

http://www.chilliorange.com.au

Chilli Orange on Urbanspoon

Chapels on Whatley

PhotoGrid_1420898980379I can’t think of many better places to spend a balmy summer Friday evening in Perth, than in the courtyard of Chapels on Whatley. Not only is this earthy red brick building a restaurant, it is also a stylish tea emporium and a homewares store. Add a funky cocktail menu and chanteuse Masina Miller to the mix with her smooth jazz repertoire, and you have an evening ahead guaranteed to please. 2015-01-07 16.29.54 With fairy lights, red lanterns, and tree fronds gently fluttering in the breeze, you feel as though you’re miles away from the busy little strip opposite the Maylands train station.

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Our group of 10 nestled into the courtyard and made a start on the Happy Hour cocktails; an absolute bargain at $9.95 each. Between us we managed to work our way through a cocktail menu of Angry Pandas, Melaka Margaritas, Chapel’s Emperors, Red & White Sangrias, Bangkok Bangers and Espresso Martinis.

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Chapels serves Eurasian food ranging from Singaporean chicken curry, dhal and parathas, chicken satay and beef noodles, to boards of food with a selection of tasty morsels. The food reflects the melange of cuisines in South-East Asia, and even includes homage to the French influence by way of a French charcuterie board of duck and plum rillettes, chicken terrine with Cumberland sauce, and chicken marsala pate.

A friend and I shared the charcuterie board and the Singaporean chicken curry; a deliciously mild and smooth curry and quite different to the spicy Indian curries I normally eat.2015-01-11 16.37.37We devoured everything on our charcuterie board – the pate, terrine and rillettes were simply delicious. I don’t eat pork, so the Lupchong sausages were left to my friend. We both agreed the board could have done without the sausage; it’s not identifiable as French unlike the other offerings, and didn’t add any wow factor.  Some other veggie or pickle could easily be substituted without any loss to the integrity of the dish. 2015-01-11 16.27.11Served with chargrilled olive bread, pickles, and drizzled with balsamic, everything else on the board was a taste sensation. Our eyes were definitely too big for our fat bellies as half of our chicken curry dish went begging, and no-one else was able to oblige us by finishing it. Room had to be made for dessert after all.

One of our group who adores satay, declared the generous chicken satay sticks on its bed of salad and potatoes, a winner. Different from the usual satay with rice, but Chapels likes to trick things up a bit and make food more interesting. And who doesn’t love potatoes?

2015-01-11 14.46.21The Oriental tasting plate with its fish cakes, steamed pork buns, spring rolls, dumplings and dipping sauces, was declared a success by a duo at the other end of the table.

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Not to be outdone by all the meat dishes, one of our group opted for the dhal with parathas, raita and relish. Judging by her empty plate, this hearty vegetarian meal was a tasty and healthy change from her usual carnivorous diet.2015-01-11 14.44.30Many cocktails, a jug of red Sangria and several glasses of wine later, while chilling out to the sounds of the smooth jazz duo playing inside, we decided it was time to bring on the pudding.  Show me a group of women who don’t secretly want to hoover up oozing plates of chocolatey, caramely, creamy gooey sweetness and I’ll give you a million bucks my friend. We all swoon at the prospect of a delicious dessert.

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Perfectly oozing chocolate fondant with vanilla ice-cream

A good dessert – no, a great dessert, is worth a week’s worth of main dishes. Seriously.  And I always try and leave room for a sweet treat if I’m out dining some place where love and attention is paid to the grand old pud. Chocolate fondant with vanilla ice-cream is the dish that bowls me over every time, so to avoid being greedy, my friend and I decided to share one…..and then to finish with a salted caramel macaron. Each.2015-01-11 14.54.49Friday nights at Chapels are enhanced with the sound of soft jazzy tunes coming from the main dining area. It’s hard to find fault with this establishment really. You’re surrounded by interesting and beautiful wall art and homewares everywhere you look. The food is delicious and if you weren’t greedy, you could get away with sharing a board between two people.

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Happy Hour cocktails are a big drawcard between 5 and 6pm , so get here early to take advantage of that. And, the big big plus – Chapels gets a major tick for taking separate billing.  For a group of 10 people that is no minor thing. I can think of very few places in Perth or anywhere else, that agree to separate billing but as owner Keith pointed out; it’s not hard to do at all. And that is something that will ensure my group of friends and I will return here time and time again.

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Chapels on Whatley on Urbanspoon

Kitsch Bar

I had high expectations of this funky bar and restaurant, and booked in here with a  group of 16 on New Years Eve. Kitsch resides in an old house that has been converted into a maze of interesting small rooms and sections, so you don’t have one massive area with one massive noisy crowd. Greeted by a young hipster when the first of our group arrived, he seemed incredulous that we baby boomers should be at this happening place. “You need a booking to get in” he managed to spit out. “Yep sunshine, we do have a booking” was our response. Fortunately we and he were rescued from further mortification by the arrival of another older hipster who knew what we were about and showed us to our table down the side of the bar adjoining the Re Store.

I loved the eclectic collection of chairs, cushions, plants and interesting decorations and lamps in this place.  The wall murals are Asian-themed and are colourful and interesting. The montage of Asian ladies plastered on the main side wall was obviously a labour of love.

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For $75, we were expecting an interesting and delicious Asian menu. All those Urbanspooners can’t be wrong, right? We had the set menu comprising nibbles, entrees, mains, sides and desserts. There were several pork options which I don’t eat, but the menu offered vegetarian options instead. Included in the price was a welcome drink of sparkling, or a cocktail made of pear cider. We also got a glass of sparkling at the midnight hour.

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The nibbles were prawn crackers in paper bags, and spiced endamame beans in little bamboo boats. Nothing fancy but OK.

The entrees were spiced corn fritters, rice paper rolls with prawns, and pork nachos. The corn fritters tasted like nothing discernible – just pulp mashed into fritter shapes, and fried to a dark brown. Not a corn kernel in sight or taste.  Corn, hello!!  Are you in there somewhere? Apparently corn had scarpered.

The mains were lamb massaman curry, crisp pork belly, pork sushi and prawn or vegetarian noodle salad, with side dishes of steamed rice, wok-fried greens and tofu, and miso soup.  As I don’t eat pork or lamb I waited on my alternatives to appear on the table. Whilst all my friends were chowing down on their pork and lamb dishes, I sipped my wine and supposed they would eventually remember me. They eventually did after about an hour had passed,  and after we had reminded them 3 times.  Steamed rice was served, but the other two side dishes of miso soup and stir-fried greens and tofu didn’t appear until 10.30, long after the mains had been finished.

Throughout the evening we had the most charming waitress you could wish for. She was so apologetic about the long wait times and the food mix-ups, and she unbegrudgingly took our complaints to the manager and kitchen staff with a smile. We also got a bottle of prosecco by way of apology for the food stuff ups. We tipped her generously at the end of the night, as she really had her work cut out for her with our large table.

I was hanging out for dessert to arrive, and it finally did, at 11.30pm.  Actually, calling it dessert is very generous. It was a plate of cubes of 3 types of sweets. Cubes of green tea pannacotta (so gross that words fail me), cubes of salted caramel peanut parfait (yum), and cubes of mascapone and blueberry cheesecake (also yum). Now there were 2 cubes each allocated of each dessert; cubes less than 1 inch square. One tiny bite and it’s gone baby, gone. Damn! We just get to the good stuff and they tease up with a mere morsel.

Two foodie members of our group had sampled the food at Kitsch prior to making the booking and were happy with it. Maybe we just picked a dud night. Maybe the kitchen was overwhelmed by the packed house on NYE. Maybe the usual chef did a runner, and they had to ring in the second cousin of one of the wait staff who was alleged to have completed a commercial cookery course at TAFE in 1992. Maybe lots of things. But there’s no maybe about the quality of the food served to us on that night. To the management’s credit however, they offered us each a $25 refund on the total of $75 we paid for the evening.

Despite the food mishaps, we really did have a fabulous night. Sometimes it’s all about the company and the occasion, rather than the food. And prosecco and cocktails help.  No complaints about the wait staff either; they did a valiant job in the face of  complaints. Kudos to them. But a word to the baby boomers – don’t bother. This place really is too hip for the likes of us. I’ll keep searching for those places that love seeing a bunch of…… ahem…mature people gracing their premises.