Koko Black, Claremont

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Two things to love about Claremont = Brooklyn’s Friday night oyster night, followed by Koko Black for post-oyster dessert and coffee. What better combo could you find within a few minutes walk of each other?

Claremont’s KB is a notch above the CBD outlet in my book. Aesthetically more pleasing and more relaxed, it’s also easier to access. For a Friday night sweet treat, it’s my Nirvana.

We ordered some cakes to share – and realised after demolishing two that we’d been too greedy and couldn’t possibly eat the third one. We asked the wait staff if we could “return” the third – untouched of course. Sometimes those old eyes are just bigger than the old belly, and just maybe a couple of dozen oysters and a few glasses of prosecco earlier had a role to play.

Our tiered mousse cake was delicious, but the chocolate bread with butter wasn’t worth the effort. Seriously, if you’re going to a chocolate specialty shop, why the heck would you waste your time with chocolate bread? Rookie mistake; won’t happen again 🙂

Naturally we shopped for gourmet chocolates to take home, and they were as good as they look in the photos. Yum. Whoever said that chocolate can’t make the world go around, obviously never developed any taste buds. I truly hope that Koko Black manages to stay afloat despite their epic financial woes, as where else will we go to slurp decadent hot chocolate and indulge in a range of amazing chocolate treats?  All the more reason to GO NOW. AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE.

Koko Black Claremont Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Maya Indian Restaurant & Bar

 

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The trouble with Tribbles is that they keep multiplying. If you’re a Trekkie fan from way back, you’ll recognise this reference illustrating the proliferation of Indian restaurants in Perth. Am I just imagining it or are they multiplying like Tribbles in every suburb at an alarming rate? I say alarming because the quality of some of these establishments is questionable. I’ve tried one too many with underwhelming experiences. I’ve become much more discerning these days and won’t dine Indian unless I’m fairly confident of getting a good meal. My two friends on this occasion are also lovers of Indian cuisine, and we were hopeful of a good experience based on word-of-mouth and online reviews.

Our mid-week dining night was quiet, but then there’s plenty of competition in Freo and restaurants usually fill out later in the week.  Maya has plenty of tables, including an upstairs room that serves as a bar area.  Some interesting art work, a dark wooden staircase, and sparkling chandeliers added some character to the decor.

Our starters were Chowk Ki Tikki – scrumptious potato patties with chick peas, chilli, cumin and 3 sauces (including my favourite tamarind sauce); and Tiger Prawns – Shark Bay tiger prawns with pineapple and tomato chutney. Although the tandoor-cooked prawns sounded promising, they were a bit on the dry side.

Our Fish Qmin curry with saltwater barramundi fillets was spicy and creamy at the same time. Flavoured with cumin, chilli and fenugreek and cooked in coconut milk, this was a noteworthy dish, and as good as some of the better fish curries I’ve had before.

The Chicken Mumtaz, commonly known as butter chicken, was the standout dish of the evening. With chicken pieces that had the desired marinated smoky tandoor flavour with a rich creamy tomatoey sauce, this is the best version I have had in Perth. I’ve had so many appalling versions of this dish that I rarely order it, but I’m so glad we did. It’s heartening to know that while there are a plethora of mediocre Indian restaurants around the traps, there is thankfully a handful of top notch establishments that don’t cheat on the preparations, and don’t dumb down the ingredients.

The garlic naan was the perfect accompaniment to our meal, along with a bowl of Basmati rice. We were too full to contemplate dessert, but we did manage to down a few glasses of reasonably priced SSB during our meal.

The wait staff at Maya were cheerful and friendly, and the wait time for food was brief. Most of our dishes were beautifully flavoured and well presented, and I’m eagerly anticipating a return in the colder months to sample one of their degustation menus. Recommended for lovers of good Indian food.

http://www.mayarestaurant.com.au/food

Maya Indian Restaurant and Lounge Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Blue Duck

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Location location. If you come for the food at The Blue Duck you may leave disappointed, but come and sit on the deck for an hour and soak in the magnificent view of the Indian Ocean, and you’ll probably leave feeling that all’s right with the world.

It’s the perfect spot for a weekend brunch, and I caught up with Lauren, one of my besties, for a long overdue chin wag.  Lauren lives in Coogee so meeting with her always gives me a chance to try out some of our south of the river spots. I don’t often get to these spots with Mt Lawley, Inglewood and Maylands on my doorstep, but it’s great to venture  further afield for brunch occasionally.

The Blue Duck was loud and busy inside mid-morning, and the wait staff seemed a bit harried occasionally. It was hard to get their attention for coffees later, which wasn’t that surprising given the size of the indoor dining area. The breakfast menu held no surprises, but there were freshly squeezed juices available and our jars of The Hulk were refreshing and zingy and really gave a kick start to the day.

My choice of the roasted mushrooms dish was adequate, but the flavour could have been enhanced with a hint of garlic and perhaps a quick saute in the pan to finish them off. One stingy pat of butter was barely enough for the toast, though the goats cheese compensated for that somewhat. Still, I like lashings of butter with my toast and that’s not hard to cater for.

Lauren’s avocado and toast was patently basic and boring. It really wouldn’t be that hard to mash the avo and mix it up with some feta or peas and seasoning to zhoosh it up a bit. And charging an extra $5 for a few cherry tomatoes and a handful of rocket – are they having a lend?

The Blue Duck isn’t renowned for its quality food, so our very ordinary brunch fare was no surprise. The juices were top notch, though the coffees were mediocre and not hot enough. I guess even when mediocrity is your middle name, you will still bring in the crowds with this classic beachside view.  For some perplexing reason Perth still suffers from a lack of beachside dining establishments, so they’re always a drawcard.  The Blue Duck probably rests on its laurels by virtue of its location, but it’s not that hard to create a few memorable breakfast dishes. The Indian Ocean should be an inspiration for good food, not be an excuse for the lack of it.

http://www.blueduck.com.au

The Blue Duck Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cornerstone Ale House

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With a son and a few friends living up in the Boonies in the Butler area, we’re always on the lookout for places with decent nosh so we can check them out when I’m visiting.  I know 37 kms away is hardly rural but when you’re a city slicker, driving to Butler can seem like going for a very long drive in the country.  Canned Heat’s song always springs to mind when I’m on the freeway; yup, feels like I’m “going up the country” 🙂

We haven’t found many eateries that tick all the boxes, but the Cornerstone Ale House is one of the few that serve reasonable food.  This no frills pub is family friendly and serves large portions of food at reasonable prices. Sometimes that’s all you need.

On a Sunday evening,  couples and families start arriving early, and several large tables filled very quickly. We shared a bottle of the special wine of the month – a reasonable SSB for $26.

My friend’s meal of the chicken schnitzel ($24) was served with mashed potato, a rather yummy mushroom sauce, and broccolini. She managed to polish off the lot and was impressed with how delicious a basic dish could taste when the ingredients were fresh and thoughtfully put together.

Second friend’s dish of the grilled barramundi fillet with sautéed baby potatoes, olives and tomatoes at $27 was a hearty serve that she thoroughly enjoyed.

Thinking the fisherman’s catch at $31 was going to be a modest serve of seafood, I was taken aback when a massive platter arrived at the table. And far from the unpalatable servings of greasy deep fried food that often appear in pubs, this one featured grilled barramundi and scallops, tender lightly battered and seasoned baby squid, a bowl of crab and prawns in a Thai coconut curry sauce, and the most fat, crispy, delectable fries that I have ever had the pleasure to eat.  The size of this dish wore me down though, and something had to be sacrificed. The crab, being the messiest to eat, won that dubious distinction.

Overall, this was a positive dining experience with pub grub a cut above many other similar establishments. If you have a large appetite, you’ve come to the right place. Kudos too, to the cheery staff who go all out to make you feel welcome. This place may be out in the sticks, but it knows all about good old fashioned hospitality.

 

http://thecornerstone.com.au/index.php

 

Cornerstone Ale House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Threecoins Trattoria revisited

My pal Scotty and I re-visited Threecoins last week; our third visit in the past year. We always enjoy the food and the atmosphere here and would go more often, except that wouldn’t leave time to visit the other fabulous restaurants around the traps.

On a Thursday night we were able to get a table for dinner at the last minute, but the empty tables at 6.30 had all filled up by 8.30 when we left. Lots of families and large groups come here, and why wouldn’t they? You get the feeling you’re in Italy, with the food, the Italian-accented wait staff and the check tablecloths.

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All of the pasta dishes feature home-made pasta, and all of the pasta dishes I’ve tried have been delicious. Aside from the normal menu, there are daily specials of either pasta or pizza, and usually a salad and fish dish. Scotty and I decided to share two dishes as the pizza of the day sounded tempting, as did one of the pasta dishes which I’ve had before and loved. The pizza of the day was mozzarella with anchovies and zucchini flowers – how often do you see zucchini flowers on the menu in Perth? I often wonder what happens to these edible little gems with our locally grown zucchinis. You rarely even see them being sold at fresh produce stores. Where do they go?
Scotty doesn’t care for anchovies, so she asked if she could have ham on her pizza half. How can you not love it when restaurants willingly oblige your food requests? Threecoins happily served up a fabulous wood fired pizza with ham on one side and anchovies on the other. The little zucchini flowers looked a treat, and our pizza also featured a generous amount of mozzarella and anchovies. The sharp saltiness of the anchovies was the perfect foil for the smooth creaminess of the mozzarella and the subtlety of the zucchini flowers. A match made in heaven as far as I was concerned. Scotty didn’t know what she was missing.

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Our pasta dish of Pumpkin and Taleggio Ravioli with truffle oil, and butter, sage and parmesan sauce, was sublime. Perfectly cooked ravioli with a sweet, creamy filling and a subtle sauce that complemented but didn’t overwhelm. I’ve had this dish before and it was still as good the second time around. The waiter even offered to divide and serve up the pasta dish for us – so the amount you see on the plate is half a serve.

Desserts are fairly standard Italian with tiramisu, pannacotta, sweet calzone and semifreddo on offer. As good as the raspberry-topped pannacotta was on our last visit, we decided to forego the dolce this time as were pleasantly sated.

This Umbrian family run restaurant has authentic Italian stamped all over it. It is all about honest, home-spun Italian dishes, as you’d expect your Italian mamma would make. Wines by the glass are reasonably priced, or you can bring a bottle of your own vino.
Along with corkage for BYO wine, our bill was $30 each. Hard to fault, really.

http://www.threecoins.com.au/food2/food/

Threecoins Italian Trattoria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Globe Coffee House Restaurant & Patisserie

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This Globe bears no resemblance to London’s thespian counterpart, but it does actually look sneakily similar to the decor in the Dome cafes. Coincidence? Who knows, but a friend of mine who’s lived in South Perth  for many years insists there’s a story to be told.

This Globe on the popular Angelo St strip in South Perth is a busy lunch time venue, and I’ve grabbed a coffee and a bite to eat here many times. Globe’s cakes are popular because they offer both normal and mini sizes, which of course simply encourages greedy folks like me to try more than one. Don’t leave your cake eating till evening though, as the best ones have usually sold by mid-afternoon.

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On this occasion via Dimmi, an offer of 50% off the food bill tempted our group of six to book in for dinner at The Globe. Along with glasses of wine for $6.50 (for an acceptable South Australian SBS or Cabernet Merlot), the offer was too good to pass up.

The specials of the day were grilled king snapper with roasted root vegetables, and chicken vindaloo. Call me crazy, but I would never ever ever order an Indian curry at a restaurant serving modern Australian cuisine. No sirree. I love chicken vindaloo and The Globe may have created a brilliant version, but I will never know.

Our resident carnivore Jai ordered the Scotch fillet steak with fries, mushrooms and vegetables. As is evident from the pic below, the presentation was rustic but Jai was content with her tender piece of meat – cooked medium as requested – and its sidekicks.

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The consensus among the three of us who ordered the daily special of grilled king snapper, was that it was a reasonable but unremarkable piece of fish. Kept simple and served with a few pan fried prawns and steamed asparagus, it wasn’t Michelin Star material but for $16, was adequate. You know the old saying, “you get what you pay for”?  Most of the time, it’s true.

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Frau K’s choice of the pork belly slow cooked in pear cider, and served with Pink Lady apples, Asian style vegetables, and fried rice noodles, was an interesting concoction featuring pork crackling as well as pork belly. Hmm, double the fat and double the fun. Frau K was happy with her dish and its unusual combination of flavours, though it was overly rich and she could only manage half of it.

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We had to check out the cakes on offer, though I’ve sampled these several times and found them to be perfect with a coffee in the afternoon. Between us we shared lemon tarts with cute smiley faces, and hazelnut cream layered cakes.

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The service at Globe was friendly and efficient, and the wait time for food wasn’t long. I prefer to dine here for lunch, rather than dinner though, as the lunch time sandwiches, crusty rolls, and quiches and pies served with salads, are reliably good. We could hardly complain about dinner at the prices we paid, and it’s adequate for those who are happy with simple food. Although we didn’t find Globe’s cuisine to be innovative or anything special, it has won awards for its baking and for being Cafe of the Year in 2014.  I  find that surprising given the number of cafes in Perth serving better much quality food overall,  but the award may have been influenced by Globe’s patisserie offerings, rather than its other food.

http://www.globesouthperth.com.au

Globe Coffee House Restaurant & Patisserie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sapore Espresso Bar

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AB had long been dreaming of a legendary gourmet milkshake from Sapore, so we squeezed in a visit last week for a late lunch. It was a Monday afternoon and although there were few tables occupied inside, it was surprisingly rowdy. I can only imagine the din when the place is crowded! In any event, it was a perfect sunny 28 degree day and ideal for al fresco dining, so we were happy to sit outside.

We both ordered items from the all-day breakfast menu, and naturally AB went for the sweetest milkshake on offer (after getting advice from the wait staff), while I ordered a fresh juice.

AB’s Nutella milkshake was a sight to behold – rivulets of chocolate and Nutella in a large jar, topped with a generous blob of whipped cream, and finished off with a Baci chocolate. If looks count for anything, this was impressive. And AB was suitably impressed, though it was way too sweet and decadent for me. My freshly squeezed apple, ginger and lemon juice was tickety boo, and I wish more cafes would put in the effort to make them.

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It took me all of 30 seconds to decide on the mushroom bruschetta with goats cheese and fresh herbs. The creamy, mild goats cheese went perfectly with the trio of sautéed mushrooms drizzled with truffle oil and served on soft toasted Turkish bread. One of my pet peeves is breakfast food served with various toasted breads that are so hard to cut through that you need to ask for a steak knife. I really don’t get why so many cafes do this – food needs to be idiot-proof and able to be eaten decorously. Try sawing through a slice of bread as tough as crocodile skin and toasted to death, with bruschetta toppings flying shelter skelter off your plate, and you’ll understand what I mean.

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AB deviated from his usual food types and ordered the truffled scrambled eggs with shaved parmesan. It was a massive serve of creamy, wobbly eggs, sprinkled with fresh parsley and served on sourdough toast. Whilst he enjoyed it, he was envious of my mushroom dish. I don’t blame him – I love eggs, but it’s hard to beat a plate of super fresh mushrooms sautéed in good olive oil, right?

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We’d finished eating and were paid a visit by Sapore’s owner, enquiring about our experience and wanting feedback. We noticed that he did this with every table. I love it when people take their business seriously, and value what their customers have to say. Should be more of it!

Sapore is bit of an anomaly in Belmont as it’s the lone wolf in a forest of fast food outlets and food hall stalls (at the adjacent Belmont Forum). Sapore’s food is fresh and well made, the shakes and juices worth visiting for, and the owner cares about his customers. You can’t ask for more than that, really.

http://saporeespressobar.com.au

Sapore Espresso Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mo:Mo’s Nepalese restaurant and cafe

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Search Google and you’ll find that a colon doesn’t exist in Nepalese grammar. So what the heck it’s doing in the middle of the Nepalese word for dumpling (also the name of the restaurant) is anybody’s guess. Grammar aside, Mo:Mo’s serves damn fine Nepalese food and does it with a smile, so who would quibble over a punctuation mark?

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Our group of four gals arrived on an AFL finals night, so there was a glut of empty tables. All the better for us, as we had the undivided attention of the part owner who was keen to share with us his knowledge of Nepalese cuisine, and to recommend dishes based on our likes.

Naturally we had to start with the iconic Nepalese dish of dumplings, of both the chicken and beef variety. Served with a tangy tomato and ginger chutney, the dumplings were a mellow intro into Nepalese cuisine.  I always feel quite virtuous eating these steamed dumplings, as there seems to be so little fat involved that they must be healthy, right?  We also ordered the not-so-healthy potato cakes – Aloo Chop – fluffy potatoes with fresh coriander and onions, dusted with besan flour and pan fried. Served with a coriander chutney, these mild potato cakes were pleasant enough without being remarkable.

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Although we were urged to try the house specialty of goat curry, none of us were keen to explore that option and went for the eternally popular chicken dishes. The chicken methi curry cooked in cream, was redolent with the dried fenugreek leaves (methi) that give it its unique taste. We loved this dish; the flavours of the spices and the methi worked beautifully together. We mopped it up with roti bread and steamed rice. If you’ve never tried any methi dishes (also popular in Indian cuisine), this is a great introduction to the subtle burnt caramel/maple flavour it brings to food.

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Not to be outdone by a chicken curry, we wanted to try Mo:Mo’s version of BBQ chicken. The kukhura poleko comprised pieces of chicken thighs, marinated in fresh coriander, parsley, garlic and ginger, and char grilled to succulent perfection. The herby zing of the marinade and the smokey char grilled edges, resulted in an intensely satisfying, delicious dish. This is probably the Nepalese equivalent of Indian tandoori food, but it couldn’t be more different in taste. Whereas tandoori dishes rely on heavy spicing and yoghurt-based marinades, this is all about the herbs.

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To get our healthy dose of veggies we opted for the Cauli Aloo; a mix of cauliflower and potatoes in a mildly spiced tomato, garlic and ginger sauce. It’s impossible not to love cauliflower and potatoes in a curry if the sauce is good, and Mo:Mo’s version rose to the occasion.

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The desserts sounded very similar to the Indian ones we are so familiar with, and we were curious to discover if there were any discernible differences. Indeed there were. Whilst Indian desserts are generally super sweet, these used much less sugar. In fact my khir – slow cooked rice in milk and with cardamon – although lush and creamy, lacked depth because of the small amount of sugar. When you’re eating a rice dessert, you need a decent amount of sweetener to balance it out and lift those starchy carbs.

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Frau K liked the sound of the carrot pudding (I forgot to get a photo), but as with my khir, the pudding was suffering from a lack of sugar. I’ve tried many versions of carrot pudding/halwa including my own made with condensed milk (now that’s a serious sugar load), but sadly this was the blandest yet.

The Prof won out with her dish of saffron yoghurt with lal mohan. The vibrant yellow of the saffron yoghurt made this dish pop, and underneath all that creamy smoothness lay the lal mohan – the Nepalese version of the Indian gulab jamun. There was no scrimping on the sugar in this dish – those dense little lal mohan balls wallowing in sugar syrup were the perfect foil for the slight acidity of the “hung” yoghurt; we all concurred that this dessert was the standout.

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I’ve dined at other Nepalese restaurants and at times haven’t found much difference between Nepalese and Indian cuisines. At Mo:Mo’s however the distinction was made clear, and it was interesting and enjoyable to sample what we felt was authentic Nepalese food. Our congenial host assured us that they stick to their food origins and reproduce the food that they grew up with in Nepal. Our experience was positive and we would have loved to sample a few more dishes if only we could fit them in. It’s pity about the desserts as we all felt that each one could be sensational if made a bit sweeter. We were told by our lovely host that “these aren’t the same as Indian desserts”, so maybe Mo:Mo’s is keen to highlight the differences in not just the savoury, but the sweet dishes as well. In any event, it’s really not always about desserts, and the delicious range of savoury food is enough to compensate.

This cosy suburban restaurant has many things going for it, and once again proves that you don’t need to spend a fortune to have a good meal. You can BYO alcohol, sample a range of dishes, and enjoy the hospitality of the staff. Mo:Mo’s is also in the Entertainment Book, although we really didn’t need the discount as we felt the food was reasonably priced anyway. If you’re a newbie to Nepalese cuisine Mo:Mo’s is the perfect introduction for you.

http://www.momosrestaurantperth.com.au/index.php

Mo:Mo's nepalese restaurant and cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Mallard Duck Cafe

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The Mallard Duck was the setting for a family celebration of 12 people, and proved to be perfect for all ages. I’d dined here years ago before blogging was even a term anyone recognised, and was surprised to hear that it was still alive and thriving. It obviously has something going for it.

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The menu is modern Australian and we all took a while to choose our mains – it’s always a good sign when you can’t decide because the options sound so enticing. A few of our group chose entrees, with the fried camembert being a popular choice. You rarely see this 70s dinner party relic on menus these days, but this version was a hit with its berry coulis and fresh strawberries.

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My son JB wasn’t that enamoured with his garlic prawns and rice however, and this was the only dish on the table that was a mild disappointment.  He complained about the chalky quality of the prawns; however my main dish of prawns was delightful. Head scratching time – surely they used the same prawns, so I couldn’t figure how the quality could be so different. Maybe it was the cooking process?

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A few beers and glasses of wine were dotted around our table but I went for something a bit more exotic for a change with the passionfruit mojito. This was fruity and refreshing and good value for $12.

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I loved my dish of linguine with tiger prawns. The prawns were fresh, succulent and sweet and were perfect in this simple pasta dish served with cherry tomatoes, rocket, olive oil and shaved parmesan. I couldn’t finish but my son SB managed to polish it off, concurring that it was a delicious dish. It’s handy having three strapping sons who are always more than happy to finish anything I leave on my plate 🙂

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SB chose one of the daily specials, the lamb rack with mashed potato and greens, and savoured every mouthful. I’m not much of a meat eater but I did sample a taste of lamb at his insistence and it was as tender as he claimed. It was cooked perfectly to his liking and was pink and juicy.

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The lamb kebabs with risoni and rocket salad was another winner on the table, with a few family members choosing this option. The lamb again was tender and juicy, and had been marinated in rosemary and mint. The salad with its roasted pumpkin strips, cherry tomatoes and a basil dressing was a good accompaniment to this very meaty dish.

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We’d brought our own cake to celebrate the occasion so we didn’t get to sample the desserts on offer. The service was attentive and friendly, and wait times for food were short despite this being a very busy Sunday lunch. The kids loved exploring outside the cafe down by the lake, checking out the fish pond and the geese. All in all a pleasant experience enjoyed by all ages, and yet another reason to visit our remarkable Swan Valley.

http://www.mallardduck.com.au

The Mallard Duck Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Jolly Good Indian

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Indian restaurants in Perth appear to multiply at a rapid rate in the past few years. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – competition encourages excellence and variety apparently is the spice of life. Inglewood isn’t a large suburb but it has three Indian restaurants within a few kilometres of each other on Beaufort St; none of which I had tried. I set out with a group of friends to change that and to see if Jolly Good Indian lived up to its name.

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The restaurant is in a converted house, and this in itself is high on the charm scale. Dining in different rooms as opposed to one large area can reduce the noise level, and give you a bit of privacy if that’s what you want. Decorated throughout with Indian knickknacks, the restaurant retains some of its beautiful old windows and even has a display cabinet with Indian jewellery and accessories for sale.

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We started with a few entrees of curried chicken spring rolls, and potato and onion bhaji. The spring rolls were scant on filling, and dry and overcooked.

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Whilst the bhaji were crisp, they were somewhat bland and I’ve had far better. I may have been spoiled by sampling Sauma’s bhaji a few weeks ago, so comparisons will be inevitable. I prefer a higher ratio of onion to chick pea flour batter – I think the potato watered down the flavour and the crunch factor. A mint chutney or sweet tamarind based dipping sauce would have been better than the one provided.

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Whenever I dine out with friends, it’s inevitable that butter chicken will be ordered. Although I like this dish, the quality varies enormously between restaurants and I’ve had some really bog standard versions of this in the past. I’d much prefer trying a different chicken dish than going for something I suspect may be humdrum. However group dining is all about going with the flow and accommodating crowd favourites, so butter chicken it was. Jolly Good’s dish comprised the usual boneless chicken pieces in a creamy sauce, but with no depth of flavour. I’m puzzled as to why they would use chicken breast pieces rather than thighs – this inevitably means less flavour and less succulence in the meat.

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My friends enjoyed the lamb rogan josh but I didn’t sample this dish as I’m not fond of lamb and there were several other dishes ordered that I much preferred. I never feel deprived when my friends order lamb or beef dishes, as long as there are other options on offer. Occasionally I will nibble at a meat dish at a shared table but it’s not something I would order for myself.

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There were a few prawn and fish dishes on the menu, and we settled on the tiger prawn tikka masala. This was another mild curry so I had to settle for a bowl of cut up chillies on the side to add some heat/interest to my food.

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We’d read some enthused comments about the palak paneer so we naturally had to order this and see what the fuss was about. It was a pleasant dish, but again, not memorable or special. I guess that summed up the experience overall – nothing was a stand out, though it was all acceptable food.

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Mixed veggies shabji was our final dish, and this was a typical Indian vegetable curry of potatoes, cauliflower, carrots and peas in a mild sauce.

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The best thing about Jolly Good Indian is the setting. Although everyone enjoyed their meal, we all agreed that there wasn’t much difference in taste between our dishes, with the exception of the palak paneer, but this was likely because it was spinach and not tomato based. I guess it didn’t help that every curry was mild, and I much prefer the added depth that chillies bring to a curry. With different curries you expect to find the hint of sourness in tamarind, the pungency of curry leaves, the smoothness of coconut cream or yoghurt, the bite of chillies or the intensity of a variety of fried spices. We didn’t experience the range of flavours that should come with a range of curries.

Some people will likely be quite happy with this food, and I can understand why. It’s palatable and acceptable and certainly won’t offend you. However as a lover of Indian food I appreciate and expect the differences, subtleties and the complexities that make this cuisine so special. Jolly Good Indian failed to deliver on that level. All much of a muchness really, and more of the dumbing down of food to cater to the Western palate.
Surely Western palates in the 21st century have evolved enough for us to not only appreciate, but to demand authenticity in international cuisines?

http://jollygoodindian.com.au

Jolly Good Indian Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Montereys Restaurant

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Up front I want to say for the record that I am not a fan of buffets. I much prefer to sit and choose what I want to eat from a menu, and be served that food by a waiter instead of jostling elbows with others while waiting impatiently in a queue by the salads to get to the good stuff. I have visions of being on a cruise and seeing people piling their plates with an obscene amount of food, hoovering up that food, and going back again and again to repeat. Call it mental scarring, but those visions haunt me whenever someone suggests a buffet. There’s something about an all-you-can-eat scenario that can flip the brain switch from decorous to gluttonous and it ain’t pretty. Fortunately I didn’t see any evidence of uncivilised gorging on the day we went.

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I do concede that buffets have their place, especially when dining out in a large group. It saves issues with billing at the end of the meal, and it means that everyone can eat at the same time. On this occasion it was a friend’s birthday lunch and 16 of us gathered to celebrate. It also happened to be Father’s Day so naturally Montereys became very busy by 12.30. A few of us cajoled our way into the restaurant before the opening time so we could take a few photos before the hordes arrived.

The selection at Montereys inside the Pan Pacific Hotel is relatively small, but most of it is agreeable and fresh fare. There were bowls of fresh tiger prawns, NZ mussels, and crabs. Crabs have to be one of the inappropriate choices for a buffet though – I mean, how do you chow down on these crustaceans with any decorum?  The prawns were fresh and sweet, and there were several sauces to accompany them. Sadly, there were no oysters.

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The usual potato and noodle salads were present, and an area where you could mix your own choice of  ingredients together.

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The roast meat area was the busiest and I couldn’t manage  a photo of this for ages. Sadly there was no turkey which is one of only a few roast meats I enjoy.

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There was beef curry with rice, and salmon in a creamy sauce, and white fish which I didn’t get a photo of. It was impossible to get photos of many of the main dishes because the throng of people around these never seemed to thin out.

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Roast vegetables – the carrots were super sweet and delicious. I know; carrots sound ordinary but I’m a veggie lover and really enjoyed them. The cauliflower cheese however, was tasteless and not cheesy.

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After the mains, it was a choice between the cheeses and the desserts and the desserts won out because I couldn’t fit both it. The cheeseboard was pedestrian anyway – the desserts looked much more enticing.

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The wide range of desserts came in small portions which meant we could try several without feeling like pigs.

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The dilemma was in deciding on just a few.

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The peanut butter parfait (on the right below) was my favourite , but I should have resisted the red velvet cake at the back. It was dry and nothing special.

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This dining experience was fine for the group, but I wouldn’t hurry back. Whilst all the food was fresh, it was a limited range and there was nothing special or creative, with the desserts being the most interesting. For $45 a head, I think it’s reasonably priced and no-one is under the illusion they are embarking on a five star dining experience.

I’ve found the best buffets to be in various Asian cities, and one of my primo experiences was at Mom Tri’s Boathouse in Phuket. I heartily recommend the insanely good breakfast buffet if you should ever go.  You can check out my old blog for details of Mom Tri’s; a truly wonderful place to stay, far from the gritty streets of Patong.

https://annetteinbangkok.wordpress.com/2010/04/04/phuket-re-visited-hail-to-mom-tris-boathouse/

 

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

Mia Cafe

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Mia Cafe combined the concept of cafe dining alongside garden nurseries long before it became trendy. In fact Mia Cafe has been around as long as I can remember, and that’s a while.

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I visit Mia Cafe every few months, usually for a coffee and a quick lunch. It’s popular with locals, especially in the warmer months when the verandah section looks out on the colourful plants in the Mia Flora nursery. There’s also a quaint little gift shop on site, so if the owners would only slap on a lick of paint to clean up the unattractive bore water stains, the place would look a lot more enticing.

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I’ve noticed that since the uber popular Finlay & Sons opened a few metres down the road in Inglewood, that Mia Cafe isn’t as busy as it once was. I guess in summer time though the families will flock back, as the cute little garden courtyard out the back with its complement of kiddie toys will always be enticing for parents of young kids.

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There’s always a collection of oldies in the community who patronise Mia – it’s a comfortable and welcoming cafe, so you can see why.

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Whilst I can’t say that the fare on offer at Mia’s is revolutionary or particularly creative, it nevertheless provides a few meals that are reasonably priced and enjoyable to eat. We don’t always need a sandwich to be cutting edge filled with a pantry of exotic ingredients. On my latest visit to Mia last week, my toasted chicken and sun-dried tomato wrap was tasty and delicious, and for $12.50, a lot cheaper than some other hip joints around town. There are always salads, wraps, toasties, fish and chips, cakes and muffins on offer, with a blackboard that offers daily specials of soups in winter, salads in summer, and freshly squeezed juices.

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My friend opted for the house-made spinach and feta muffin, toasted and served with butter. We shared each others food, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by how tasty the muffin was. Very moist, cheesy and well flavoured, it was a large serve and something I’d order on my next visit.

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My long mac was pretty good – I have to say that over time the quality of coffees has improved at Mia, so this is another big plus from me.

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The staff here are friendly and greet some of their regular customers by name. It’s a nice relaxing little spot on Beaufort St where you can sit and read the paper and not part with a fortune for a casual lunch.

 

Mia Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Jamie’s Italian

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I confess that this was my first visit to Jamie’s. After all the hype and the stories of long queues and the inability to make bookings, I finally arranged to meet Scotty there one mid-week evening at 5pm. We knew how wired this place became every evening, so we’d skipped lunch and opted for an early dinner. A good move as it happens, because the place was calm and quiet when we arrived, and we could choose where we wanted to sit. Scotty has eaten there several times and finds it convenient for a quick meal after a hard slog at the office.

We both ordered a glass of Italian Pinot Grigio while we perused the laminated menu.

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There’s an industrial feel to Jamie’s, softened by the red bench seats, the massive crystal chandelier dominating the room, and the deli counter at the back showcasing long bunches of garlic, dried chillies, breads and jars of condiments.

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We didn’t intend ordering dessert so we chose a few entrees to fill our rumbling stomachs. Scotty was keen on the polenta chips with rosemary and parmesan, although having read negative comments about these on Zomato, I wasn’t so sure. Turns out they were the bees knees. Crunchy on the outside, deliciously salty, and better than chips.

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MY choice of the vegetable plank wasn’t so special. Whilst it sounded interesting, it was simply little terracotta dishes of pickled veggies in different forms, accompanied by a snippet of bread with tomatoey relish, and buffalo mozzarella. Ho hum.

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What I liked about the pasta dishes was the choice of ordering entree or main size. We both ordered the smaller size and this was ample (leaving room for our dessert at another location afterwards of course!). Scotty opted for one of the daily blackboard specials of pasta with crumbled salami in a tomato sauce. This ragu-like sauce had been slow cooked and the flavours were intense, with the richness of the salami being a highlight.

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My choice of the prawn linguine was fine. That’s the best way to describe it. With a hint of chilli and what I considered was a generous serve of prawns, this dish wouldn’t win awards but it hit the spot. Although there wasn’t a great depth of flavour in the tomato-based sauce, it was reasonably priced at $16 and satisfying enough on a cold evening.

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Having finally managed a visit to the hallowed halls of this establishment, I’m glad I went. I certainly wouldn’t queue for a table, and really can’t understand why people do when there are so many better quality restaurants around. Jamie’s works on a fairly basic formula, and that formula pulls in the crowds. Well, maybe Jamie’s name does too 🙂
However for a quick meal with friendly service, convenient location and decent wine by the glass, it ticks the boxes. I didn’t go expecting haute cuisine and I wasn’t disappointed.

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Ugly Duckling Wines

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Thanks to good old Groupon, Scotty and I were able to sample another boutique winery in the Swan Valley that probably wouldn’t have popped up on our radar otherwise. This deal entitled us to a glass of wine and a home-made gourmet pie fresh from the Bindoon Bakehaus for $15 each.

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On a perfect sunny winter’s Friday, we arrived at the cellar door to find a green, bucolic vista complete with friendly resident golden retriever. While we indulged in a leisurely 30 minutes of wine tasting, the uber friendly staff popped our pies in the oven to warm up. Wine tasting for the first four tastings is free, and then a charge applies. There are also olives and olive oil tastings on offer for a small fee.

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We sampled a range of wines from the rose to the chardonnays to the reds, and decided the rose would be the perfect accompaniment to our meal.

We both selected the chicken, leek and chardonnay pies, although there are also four red meat options to choose from. The pies are all made with wines sourced from the Ugly Duckling. We checked out the other foods on offer which comprise cheese boards, charcuterie platters and Turkish bread with dips. The few other tables occupied also seemed to be taking advantage of the Groupon offer. Who doesn’t love a scrumptious pie when it’s home-made and accompanied by a glass of vino?

Served with a generous side salad drizzled with balsamic, our pies were made from beautiful crisp puff pastry and filled with snowy white chunks of chicken.

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The Ugly Duckling has expansive lawns and ample space for your ankle biters to run around. There’s live music on the weekends, and it’s a delightful way to while away a few hours, sipping wine and ruminating on life’s little pleasures. Do as we did, and cruise down the road to Yahava Koffeeworks or Maddison’s in Guildford for a coffee and a sweet treat afterwards. Bliss.

http://www.uglyducklingwines.com

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Thai Orchid, South Perth

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There aren’t too many establishments in Perth that boast views like this one, especially establishments that don’t charge a premium for the privilege. Thai Orchid in South Perth is worth a visit for this reason alone.

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Meeting a friend mid-week, there were only a few tables occupied and we were seated at the window. I was captivated by the view and it reminded me of a dining experience last year at Coco’s across the way, where the view was also amazing but the food was not.

We started with a few entrees of Thai fish cakes and golden bags. I love trying different versions of Thai fish cakes, and these were spicy and tasty, and not rubbery. It’s often considered the mark of a good fish cake to have that rubbery texture, but I really don’t enjoy that texture and prefer them to be tender and moist. The golden bags were scrumptious, with minced chicken and corn and peas all wrapped up in little fried dumplings.

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Roast duck red curry is probably my favourite Thai dish, and this version was a good one – creamy with coconut, the right amount of red curry spicing, and a generous serve of duck.

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Our other main was prawns with cashew nuts and chilli jam. This stir fried fish featured a generous amount of prawns with a good chilli kick – a very tasty, flavourful dish that we both enjoyed.

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Our dining experience cost us less than $30 each, thanks to the Entertainment card. Even without the card, this was a value-for-money dining experience. The service was good, the food – though far from the best Thai food in Perth – was still delicious. The view was priceless. I recommend you book a table with views when you visit, as that certainly enhances the whole experience.

 

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