tbsp.

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

2016-02-09 23.20.15

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 Several of the tired and shabby shop fronts have been replaced by new cafes such as tbsp, Drip Espresso and the Artisan Market Cafe.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.

Shanghai Tea Garden

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This little restaurant in Northbridge has an inviting Oriental entrance. You step through an ornate red door into a courtyard before going into the restaurant. It’s a pity they don’t make the courtyard more inviting as it has the potential to be a really cool little spot for al fresco dining. A tall aquarium greets you smack in the eye as you walk into the restaurant.

My small group was there for dinner, and we ordered a variety of dishes to share. We had several plates of the Shanghai dumplings to start with. These were flavourful little things, though I can’t recall exactly what the fillings were.

I was interested in trying a Szechuan dish, and the combination Szechuan hotpot seemed to fit the bill. It was a mild Szechuan pepper spicing in this dish; not that smack-you-in-the-mouth-and-numb-your-tongue-and-lips sensation you get from a genuine assault of Szechuan peppers. Still in all it was flavourful and full of vegetables and seafood.

The fragrant crispy skin duck was a generous-sized dish, served with a bowl of that special salt that adds so much flavour to chicken and duck. Parts of it could have been a little more succulent but the skin was crispy and overall this dish was fine as the shared meaty dish.

The combination veggies were crisp and fresh, with none of those limp, ageing veggies you sometimes get in suburban Chinese restaurants. I always love a good dish of stir fried veggies, and this one was about as good as it gets in my book.

The service was attentive and fairly prompt, and the atmosphere more congenial and warm than many other Chinese restaurants in Northbridge. It was a relatively cheap evening with BYO booze; always a bonus in my book.

 

Shanghai Tea Garden Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Gooseberries

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Gooseberries Cafe formerly of Kensington, has recently been reincarnated in Yokine. I never visited the old site, but the new one is a delight. Set in the corner of a new apartment complex on Blythe St, the cafe is spacious and light, with a welcoming courtyard area and a comfy outdoor setting as you enter.

I arrived with Scotty around 11am; sadly 30 minutes too early for the lunch menu. We had to opt for brunch food which consisted of the usual egg and bacon dishes, pancakes, and several focaccia-type filled rolls.  Scotty played it safe and ordered a juicy bacon, avocado and tomato roll; a hearty serving that satisfied her love of  bacon. As I was hankering more for lunch food I chose the Bali breakfast of nasi goreng, served with chicken satay and a trio of sambals. I have made a few lacklustre choices lately and sadly, this choice followed suit. The nasi goreng was the strangest and blandest I’ve ever eaten. Missing the usual spicing, the rice was made with lashings of lemon grass and what may have been shallots. This dry dish was crying out for flavour, and the sambal dishes of kecap manis, red chilli strips minus chilli seeds, and a mild tomato-based sauce, were similarly disappointing. I’d asked for my egg to be cooked firm, but it had been fried within an inch of its life and didn’t help lift the dish out of its state of mediocrity. The chicken satays had also missed a good spice opportunity, and although they were more palatable than the rice, they also lacked punch.

Gooseberries redeemed itself somewhat with its excellent coffee, made with Di Bella beans. Their long macs really are long, and unlike most cafes that serve them in thimbles, their version is served in a generous glass – more of a latte size. Love it – other cafes should take note.

I’ve been here before for an almond croissant and a coffee, and enjoyed that much more than my breakfast today. I noticed the lunches being served on my other visit and they looked impressive, so perhaps I just made a poor choice today.

There’s a range of cakes, pastries and slices on offer, as well as fresh juices. The waitresses are friendly, and the venue is a winner. It’s nice to sit in a cafe where you don’t bump elbows with the people at the next table. Overall, Gooseberries is a pleasant experience, and a welcome addition to the Yokine area.

 

 

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

Stix Bar

2016-01-19 21.20.09

Stix looks like a bit like a shiny diamond amid the burgeoning apartment complexes on the Swan River in Burswood. Replete with a burnished wooden bar, gleaming copper fittings, views of the city and glimpses of the nearby Swan River, it’s a welcoming chill out spot away from the bustling Crown Casino complex a few minutes away.

We took advantage of a Groupon offer of 4 courses for $60, and thoroughly enjoyed our Stix evening of good food and attentive service. With 2 choices for each course, the menu wouldn’t work if you were a fussy diner, but for our group it was perfect.  Starting with an amuse bouche of a scallop with roe atop pea puree, the courses were well paced and the perfect size. The entree of chicken ballotine was beautifully flavoured and was served on a bed of something cool and creamy (I didn’t make a note of the details at the time; all I can remember is how much I enjoyed it!).

Our mains of Mt Barker roasted chicken breast with tarragon jus were accompanied by the most delicious little potato morsels I’ve ever had. Creamy soft inside and baked to a slightly crisp finish, they were simply amazing. The chicken was tender and moist, and although this was a simple dish, it was satisfying and perfectly cooked.

A course of Yallingup camembert topped with rocket was served with a basket of bread, although crackers would probably have been better suited after our substantial mains.

Dessert consisted of a selection of ice-cream and sorbet served on a crispy shortbread biscuit. The coffee ice-cream was sensational, with a close favourite being the zingy lime and mint sorbet. An unusual-looking dessert because of the way it was served on the curved biscuit, it was a light and refreshing finale to our meal.

Stix is an impressive newcomer to the bar and dining scene in Perth, and no doubt a boon to the residents of the nearby apartments. It’s elegant, the food is good, and the service professional and friendly. There is a modest selection of wines by the glass, including one dessert and 2 sparkling options. With many plates designed to share, or an 8 course degustation available for $80 pp, it’s an accessible spot with easy parking – perfect for languid summer Perth evenings.

Stix Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Red Cabbage Food & Wine

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It was a long awaited visit to Red Cabbage for a birthday celebration with  five friends. We chose the 3 course menu for $59, courtesy of the Entertainment Card. This included a glass of prosecco. The decor is rather old world with lots of wood, dark carpet and dim lighting, but lightened by quirky wallpaper featuring rows of human faces.

My choice of entree was fire-roasted baby Manjimup marron with lemon curd. I don’t exaggerate when I say it was the tiniest entree I have ever had. At 2 minuscule forks of marron meat albeit fresh and beautifully presented, I wondered why they bothered. A perfect sized amuse bouche perhaps, but not nearly enough to whet the appetite.

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Friends who chose the scallops fared much better. They were beautifully moist and well presented, and  much more substantial and satisfying than the marron.

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My main course of smoked duck breast with cauliflower and garlic puree was disappointingly chewy. I devour duck at every opportunity but this wasn’t the usual tender  flesh I love.  I know that with slow cooking duck normally fares much better, so  the quality of this dish would likely have been improved with a different cooking method.

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The four of us who had the duck concurred, but two friends who opted for the fish dish (trout) were happy little Vegemites.

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For dessert we had the option to choose an individual dessert, or share a taste plate (called A Little Bit of Everything) between two. The taste plate with four different desserts was substantial and essentially 4 full size desserts. I’m often too full to have dessert, so this was an indication of how small the other course sizes were. Between 2 of us, we polished off our entire plate of desserts. The pumpkin pie was the standout, with the others being pleasant but not memorable. Presentation was somewhat lacking as you can see from the plate – nothing delicate or visually pleasing to the eye.

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I had been anticipating a visit to Red Cabbage for some time, and sadly I was disappointed by the  experience. Whilst the service was good, the food was average; certainly not the gourmet meal expected of this establishment. I also have a bugbear with restaurants charging $5 for a small bread roll when places like Must Wine Bar provide the most amazing French bread and butter free of charge.  I doubt I’ll return to Red Cabbage with so many other better dining experiences in Perth. Although some of the dishes were of a higher quality, it’s reasonable to expect uniformity in a 5 star establishment.

 

Red Cabbage Food + Wine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Agni Fine Cuisine

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Where do you go in Perth to find great Indian cuisine? These days Perth is your oyster actually, because there are Indian restaurants popping up everywhere. Whilst they are not all created equal, there are some excellent restaurants serving authentic and delicious food.

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Situated in Innaloo, Agni Fine Cuisine has been a stalwart in Perth for years, but it’s been several years since I visited. A Dimmi special of 50% off the price of food had me champing at the bit, and it didn’t take much to persuade a group of four friends to come with me.

To get us in the mood we chose a few starters, beginning with Vegetable Samosas. The potato and pea samosas were flavourful, mild and not oily.

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Tandoori dishes are always a big drawcard for me – I love the smoky flavour, and that seared-in succulence that is impossible to duplicate in your home oven. The other big plus is that in addition to tasting so darn good, it’s a lot healthier than many Indian dishes. Low on fat but full on flavour. Three of our five had decided on sharing so we could experience a range of dishes, and we chose two Tandoori dishes to complete our starters.

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The Tandoori Prawns were probably the disappointment of the evening as they were a bit dry and could have done with a few minutes less in the oven. They were served with a smooth mint chutney and a cucumber raita. The Chicken Tikka however, was juicy, tender and cooked perfectly.

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Our other two friends opted to share the Royal Mixed Platter with a bit of everything: samosas, pakoras, (lamb) seekh kebab, chicken tikka, barra kebab. This was a huge serving for two gals and accompanied by some bread and rice, they were so full they didn’t need any mains.

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We other three selected a main dish each, plus some Roti Bread and Biryani Rice. Yes, it was a lot of food but we wanted to sample as many different dishes as possible. And we knew that one any leftovers would be going home in a doggie bag, so there was no issue there.

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The Goan Fish Curry  was my favourite; a creamy coconut flavoured dish with fleshy white chunks of fish. Delicious. Delectable. You get the picture.

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The vegetarian Malai Kofta Curry was pleasant and mild, but I’ve had so many versions of this dish over the years and they never reach the heights I anticipate. On a visit to Kolkatta a few years back I experienced a version of this dish that was amazing – made with potatoes and paneer and cashews and with the creamiest, tastiest sauce ever – I was stuffed but kept eating as I felt it would be a sacrilege to waste any.  I guess any country’s cuisine will taste better at the point of origin, right? We can spend our lives eating and searching out for the tastes and flavours that we remember from our trips, but it’s unlikely we’re going to enjoy quite the same experience at home. Whilst we can enjoy wonderful food experiences, they are unlikely to reach the same culinary heights.

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The ubiquitous Butter Chicken. Is this the most ordered Indian dish ever? I can barely remember a meal at an Indian restaurant where someone hasn’t ordered this dish. I enjoy it, but I guess it’s a bit run-of-the-mill for me.  I love Chicken Vindaloo, but try finding someone who wants to try a curry flavoured with vinegar. Any takers? Anyhoo, this version of Butter Chicken was tender and tasty, with tomato, tandoor and cream flavours marrying well together.

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Roti bread was served with our meal and was flaky and crispy, and perfect, really.  I just love the Indian breads – I’ve made many hundreds of parathas over the years but I’m a bit lazy these days and prefer to just order them when I eat out. Or (shock, gasp) buy the frozen packets in the Asian grocery stores.

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The service at Agni was exceptional, and we left our gorgeous waitress a generous tip. Nothing was too much trouble, and despite us getting a bargain basement meal, she was genuinely engaging and helpful. The chef even came out to say hello and to get our opinions of the meal. Our waitress told us the buffets at Agni are amazing, and at $39.50 for all you can eat from Thursday to Sunday nights, they are excellent value.
Even without our generous discount, the dishes at Agni were reasonably priced, plus you can BYO wine. With ample parking below the restaurant, an interesting and eclectic menu, delicious food and above-par service; what more could you wish for on a cold wintry night in Perth?

http://www.agnifinecuisine.com.au/buffet.html

 

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