Grocer & Grind, Seminyak

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

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

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

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

Recommended for brunch or lunch or anything in between.


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

Casa Bianchi

Casa Bianchi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

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

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

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

Betty and Dave’s

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I was keen to try this new spot in Inglewood, having watch it transition over many months from its tired antique shop incarnation to a light, bright cafe.

There is an outdoor terrace area – though very hot in the afternoon – and a few separate zones inside, starting with the main counter area at the front, complete with stools, fluro pink coffee machine and a takeaway coffee window. The last zone inside near the kitchen has a large table and would be suitable for a group. I loved the collection of ceramic ducks on the wall in the middle zone – I’ve never seen this many flying ducks (on a wall) before!

I ordered the Summer Beans dish comprising poached eggs with peas, beans, mint, sugar snap peas and sprouts, on sour dough toast with goats cheese. This was a beautiful dish with fresh ingredients and I loved the way the flavours worked together. The dish comes with pancetta but I asked for this to be omitted, and I think the dish works better as a vegetarian dish anyway. I felt they could have been a bit more generous with the goats cheese as this was just a thin spread on the toast, enough to tantalise you but not enough to really satisfy. That aside, I enjoyed the way the dish was put together and loved the mix of flavours.

My long mac was good, strong enough but without any bitterness, and nice and hot. The front counter has a small range of cakes, slices and muffins, as well as some ready made salads and sandwiches. The sandwiches looked good, though they all came with meat fillings. It would be nice to see an option without red meat, as even the chicken version came with bacon. These days a lot of folks prefer either vegetarian or options without red meat, and there were very few choices on the menu.

I bought a brownie to take home and wow, it was amazing. If you love squidgy, moist brownies then these are perfect. With a few pieces of white chocolate nestled inside, the brownie was scrumptious – one of the best I’ve had in fact.

It would be nice to see a few vegetarian and non-red meat options on the menu, and bottles of cold water provided. The water was tepid and so not at all refreshing on a hot day without the air con on.  I’m not vegetarian but I don’t always feel like eating meat. Apart from the salads and a few brunch items, it was a very meaty menu. There’s limited parking outside, so you’ll likely have to park behind the nearby Inglewood Hotel. The service was prompt, the wait staff super friendly, and overall Betty and Dave’s was a positive experience.

Betty and Dave's 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.


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

Tabella in Fremantle

2015-06-11 13.25.36It was an outstanding winter’s day and I had fortuitously arranged a ladies lunch in Fremantle at Tabella.  Dimmi had extended another generous offer of 50% off the price of food, so what better excuse was needed than to try a place a bit further afield?  This eatery has an open feel and an inviting atmosphere, and we had a perfect sunny spot near the window.

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Tabella vies for customers with a myriad of other eateries on South Terrace. When the competition is this fierce, you’d better have something significant going for you.

We decided to skip entrees and order mains, along with a glass of bubbles or wine each.

2015-06-11 13.26.19We thought it appropriate to order fish; Fremantle seems the sort of place where you do that. On the coast, access to fresh fish and all that. Two of us ordered the pan fried salmon, two others the Barramundi, and another the steak sandwich, cooked medium. The waiter appeared again after five minutes to inform us that they’d run out of salmon. A bit odd at midday on a Wednesday unless there was a rush on before we arrived. Two other tables occupied; nope, not a rush on. Was there any fresh fish available? No, they don’t serve fresh fish; and that includes the Barramundi. OK then, a re-think on the orders.  I ordered the local prawns – Gamberi All’ Aglio at $29.50 – can’t go wrong with fresh WA prawns, right?

2015-06-11 13.31.16The prawns look enticing in the photo, but looks can be deceiving. The only thing fresh on this plate was the bread. Normally garlic prawns come out sizzling in good quality olive oil, but in this case they came out fizzling in a pond of yellow butter that I daresay had been mixed with oil. I could have forgiven Tabella for this had the prawns been fresh, but they were stale and chalky. None of that crunchy, salty, sweet sensation you get from fresh prawns.

2015-06-11 13.29.36JS didn’t fare much better with her plate of Linguine ai Frutti di Mare at $28.50. As you can see from this plate, there was a generous serve of seafood, but the huge serving of pasta was dry and with just olive oil as the sauce and little seasoning, the dish was insipid and unappetising. Sometimes with a dish, the fresh flavours speak for themselves, but the prawns and fish weren’t fresh and the calamari was rubbery, so the only speaking they were doing doesn’t bear repeating. Sadly JS didn’t make much of a dent in this dish apart from picking off the seafood pieces, and left almost a full plate of dry, inedible pasta.

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Rena faired better with her Whitebait at $16. The tiny fish were crunchy and fresh, and it was a huge serving that came with aioli and a side of leafy salad.

2015-06-11 13.27.24Then there was the Pesce al Forno at $33, or Barramundi  fillets with Mediterranean sauce.  The colours of the sauce look brilliant; all those bright greens and reds. The verdict was that the strongly-flavoured sauce overpowered the dish. Sometimes simple is best, and this is especially applicable to fish. Perhaps the sauce was designed to disguise the taste of frozen fish? Barramundi is being served in almost every restaurant in Perth at the moment. It’s not the best fish by a long shot if it’s been frozen and then it’s really not worth eating, especially at the price of $33.  I know we had the benefit of a discount, but other diners may not have.

I don’t have a photo of the final dish ordered by Kim. The steak sandwich at $16.50 was spoiled by an overcooked, tough piece of steak. She didn’t get the benefit of the 50% off the price of her food, as our surly waiter informed us that the lunch specials were not part of the deal.

It’s difficult coming up with a few positives to say about Tabella. Much as I don’t relish giving a place an absolute drubbing, this was not an enjoyable dining experience. Four out of five meals were below par. Our waiter looked and sounded like he really didn’t want to be there, and it wasn’t long before we felt like that too. It took 15 minutes before we were given a carafe of water. No excuse for that with only two other tables occupied. The music was loud and intrusive – Eminem and Nirvana playing at lunchtime – fine for a pub but not an Italian cafe. The corkage for BYO wine is a whopping $8.50 per bottle.  I know that many people have had positive experiences at Tabella and enjoyed their food, so maybe we picked the wrong day and ours was an isolated experience. In saying that though, when you are located on a cafe strip surrounded by reliable competition, you need to be consistently good. Mediocrity won’t get you far, and it certainly won’t get you return customers. On a positive note the bread was delicious, but that credit is due to Tabella’s supplier, Lawley’s Bakery.

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Source Foods

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Egg’s office in Northbridge is just around the corner from Source Foods so she often pops in for a coffee or lunch. She loves the fresh, sustainable produce used and urged me to have lunch with her and check it out for myself.

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Source offers a range of salads, wraps, burgers and all day breakfast food. Two blackboards list the regular items and daily specials. They also makes smoothies and fresh juices, and serve a range of loose leaf teas.

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Egg went for a Haloumi, herbed couscous, roasted sweet potato, pomegranate, walnuts and harissa yoghurt at $17. The colours were beautiful and the flavours fresh. After a taste test, I wished I had chosen this.

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My smoked salmon, cream cheese and salad bagel was also fresh and it hit the spot, but I really should have chosen the salad. Ah, food envy….

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The coffee is made from single origin beans, and sourced from small local roasters.

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Source’s prices may be a bit higher than your typical lunch cafe, but the cafe’s ethos and commitment to sourcing sustainable and local produce, means that your food miles are low and you are dining ethically.  The beef, chicken, eggs and tempeh used are either organic, free range or biodynamic, and the bread used in the sandwiches is organic. It’s sadly not always possible to dine with a conscience, but Source Foods is doing its darndest to give us that opportunity. The staff are passionate about what they are serving up, and are happy to be there.  You’d be hard pressed to not love this place.

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Zephyr Cafe Kiosk

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A home visit to my friend The Prof in North Freo morphed into an unexpected lunch at the Zephyr Cafe on Riverside Road. Situated on the river past the Leeuwin Barracks, it’s one of those places that escapes attention unless you’re a local in the know.

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Perfect for families with river frontage and a large adjacent playground, Zephyr is an idyllic little spot away from the bustle of central Freo. Our lazy Saturday afternoon was spent enjoying the mild late Autumn weather with a view you can’t put a price tag on.

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My long mac was fine – sorry, don’t know what beans were used – while The Prof enjoyed her Chai latte. I later went for a small pot of peppermint tea (with leaves) whilst The Prof reprised her Chai latte order.

Zephyr’s menu consists of fairly hearty dishes of pasta, salads, burgers, and full-on meat dishes such as pork belly and beef cheeks, but they also have sweet treats in the display counter and a few savoury pastries and tarts. As soon as I spotted the almond croissant (which The Prof assured me was brought in from a local bakery and was VERY good), I looked no further. Almond croissants are heaven in pastry; very indulgent I know but just the ticket with a coffee when you don’t have an enormous appetite and you hanker for something sweet. As it turns out it wasn’t an almond filling; it was custard. Not what I expected, but pretty damn good. Served warm, the croissant custard was sweet and rich, while the flaky, crispy pastry was a delight.

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The Prof went for more typical lunch fare; seafood chowder. It certainly looked inviting and as you can see, it was full of chunks of seafood. A bit pricey at $24 I thought, but The Prof said it was creamy and full flavoured. It came with a piece of grilled toast but they could have outdone themselves and served two. For a guy, this dish would be a bit light on with a lone slice of toast.

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Zephyr is an idyllic spot and the perfect place to sit and soak in the view of boats on the river. It caters well for kids and there is ample parking. If the trendy cafe strip isn’t your cup of tea, this place is a great alternative. I’ll be back not so much for the food, but for the location. That much is priceless.

Zephyr Cafe & Kiosk on Urbanspoon


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Aliment cafe in West Perth was the perfect spot for a casual lunch meeting with a few friends mid-week. Quiet and with underground parking, it is a fuss free spot that serves up generous portions of lunch dishes at  reasonable prices.

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My Grilled Chicken Salad with mushrooms and slow roasted beetroots, was enormous and exceptional value for $15. Try as I might, I couldn’t finish it. The creamy tarragon dressing and ton of baby spinach leaves completed this filling healthy-ish meal.

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My pal Pollyanne ordered Toast and Toppings and for $18, this would have been ample for two to share. I’ve never seen so much feta on a plate; not to mention the generous spread of smashed avocado on each slice of sourdough toast, chopped tomato and mint, soft poached egg and a splash of balsamic.

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English Rose opted for a bagel with bacon, tomato, melted cheese and spinach.  Didn’t get the price of this one, but there were crusty chicken or continental baguettes on display priced between $7.50 and $8.50, absolutely loaded with fillings.

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My long macchiato was noteworthy, made with Single Origin Ethiopian coffee beans.

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Aliment had some yummy looking scones with jam and cream. Because lunch was so damn good, we’ll forgive them the spelling error 🙂

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There were daily specials including pumpkin soup with toast, caramel nut French toast and choc brownie pancakes.

Aliment is a few metres from the uber popular Hylin, but is far less busy and the food on offer was amazing value for money. Check it out.


Aliment on Urbanspoon

Villa D’Este

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It seems Villa D’Este has been around almost as long as I have, and that’s a while. In the heart of the West Perth business district, this Italian stalwart keeps chugging along, serving excellent business lunches at a price that will make your heart sing. For $38.80 you can indulge in a three course meal, served by waiters straight from charm school.

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Set in a converted house, the settings are stylish and sophisticated in an old world way. Not a whiff of the hipster vibe in this old house.

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What you get is a classy atmosphere with white linen, service at a steady and relaxed pace, and hearty Italian food that will leave you content and glad you came.

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There are all manner of nooks and crannies here with little alcoves and comfy lounge chairs, and I imagine in winter it would be a very cosy spot for a romantic rendezvous.

Our ladies luncheon group was in fine spirits, and we all ordered a glass of vino to go with our lunch. There were about six choices of both red and white wine by the glass, along with two bubbly selections.

My entree was grilled baby squid with white wine, olives and a hint of chilli. This was an ideal first course; tender, light and fresh.

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A few of our group elected to have the antipasti as their entree. The cold antipasti plates were set up buffet style on a table, and you helped yourself to the offerings of cold meats, mozzarella, octopus, calamari, marinated vegetables, arancini and olives.

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This plate of antipasti goodies looked inviting, and two of our group enjoyed the freshness and variety on offer.

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The main course options included veal scaloppine, barramundi, gnocchi, pasta and lamb. I chose a papardelle pasta with walnuts and gorgonzola, and it was a massive portion that I couldn’t do justice to. There wasn’t quite enough sauce for this huge amount of pasta so it was a bit dry.  Sadly I think my main choice wasn’t up to the standards of the other choices for mains. Next time I’ll know better.

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Others in our group chose the veal, fish and gnocchi dishes, and really enjoyed their choices. Unfortunately I didn’t get photos of these other mains, so you’ll just have to take my word (second hand) that they were delicious and well presented.

Desserts included the ubiquitous tiramisu, gelati and baked chocolate pudding. There was a mix of these ordered at our table, and I can tell you that all everyone in our group was scraping their plate. My tiramisu was delectable. I know this is the stock standard Italian dessert, but the versions on offer around the traps vary enormously as far as quality goes. This was one of the better versions, but I had to bolt mine down as my parking ticket was about to expire, and I wasn’t going to risk a hefty fine on the back of a bargain lunch.

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Villa D’Este is the perfect spot for a girls lunch, business lunch, romantic lunch, or whatever you fancy really. I think I might return in winter to sample a different menu, as it changes regularly. It’s a wonderful way to experience a spot of fine dining without the luxury price tag. It’s in the Entertainment Book too, so you can get the benefit of a discount on your evening meal. The discount doesn’t apply to the lunch special.

Click to add a blog post for Villa D'Este Restaurant on Zomato

Coode St Cafe

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I love the little cafes tucked away on suburban streets, far from the busy roads. More and more of these converted old houses are popping up in the inner burbs, with Coode St Cafe being one of the forerunners. On its corner block, this roomy cafe has plenty of tables inside and out, and I’ve never been here and not been able to get a table. Scotty and I decided to pay a sneaky visit to use a soon-to-expire Entertainment Book voucher.

The items in the display cabinet all look so scrumptious, that making a choice is difficult.  I could happily eat most of the frittatas, tarts and pies on display, and it’s a bonus that several are vegetarian options.

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In addition to the pre-made cabinet items, there are sandwiches and various salads on offer, as well as sweet treats to enjoy with a coffee.

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Scotty goes for the bacon and leek tart, a cheesy number that she heartily enjoys. Her only beef is that the tarts are microwaved, resulting in soggy pastry. Such a shame when crispy pastry is so damn good, and is easy to achieve with a microwave crisp plate.

BAcon and leek

My Mediterranean tart is filled with chunks of  artichoke, red capsicum and roasted eggplant, and is served with a side of citrusy Israeli couscous salad. Delicious.

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We still have room for coffee and cake, but as the portions are huge we’re happy to share one. The nutty salted caramel tart, although lacking in the salt factor, is enjoyable but not the best we’ve had.

Salted caramel nut

Coode St Cafe is open seven days a week and has long been a Mt Lawley staple. I’ve visited many times over the years and have enjoyed many tasty meals with friendly service. There is always street parking available, and the atmosphere is great for just chilling, reading the newspapers, and sipping a Fiori bean coffee.

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Coode St Cafe on Urbanspoon

High Wycombe Tavern

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When you find a great hairdresser, stick with her. I have, for 26 years. This brings me to MM, my faithful coiffeuse and long-time friend, who as fate would have it, broke her wrist three months ago and is thus taking an enforced hiatus from the hair business.

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MM is living temporarily in the boonies with her sister while her wrist heals; well to a city slicker like me, High Wycombe is far enough away to be classified as the boonies.  MM suggested we meet for lunch at her local – the High Wycombe Tavern. I’m always happy to oblige when it means trying something new that may not necessarily be on my radar.

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The Tav dining area looks out over a park children’s playground and fountain – an attractive outlook as far as views go. The meals are typical pub fare with generous portions and reasonable prices, and MM went for her favourite, beer-battered fish with chips and a side salad, served with a draft beer, for the princely sum of $15.

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In MM’s case, a lemon squash substituted for the beer.

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My interest was piqued by the daily special salad of smoked salmon, and this proved a good choice. Lashings of smoked salmon, kalamata olives, and a massive serving of leafy greens, feta, red onion and cherry tomatoes, made me feel quite virtuous. Some of the meals I’ve had lately have been far from healthy, so this was a welcome feel-good change.

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Without much expectation I ordered my usual long macchiato, which was a pleasant surprise and as good as many I’ve had in inner city cafes. All in all, this little foray into the burbs was a pleasant, unpretentious place to catch up with a friend on a Monday afternoon. Wait staff were friendly and attentive.  There are daily food specials, family fun days, and live music on the weekends.

High Wycombe Tavern on Urbanspoon

Flinderz at Hillarys

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It’s awesome when you make a little trek out to the burbs and discover an unlikely foodie gem in a small shopping centre. Egg and I were in the Hillarys area last Friday and trusty Urbanspoon pointed us in the right direction. Why not try something NOT at Hillarys Boat Harbour, right?

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With banquet seating encircling the verandah area and leafy trees lining the adjoining car park, it was a pleasant spot to park ourselves in for an hour on a sunny afternoon. No sooner had we sat ourselves down, than our super pleasant waiter appeared with a bottle of water and menus in hand, and announced that the special of the day was a salmon fillet with potato mash AND a glass of vino for $20. Holy snapping fish fillets! It took both of us about a second to say “yes please, we’ll have that!”

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Sadly I had to forgo the wine, but chose a lemon, lime and bitters instead which came in a ginormous jar.

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About 15 minutes later our lunch plates appeared with generous pieces of salmon atop creamy mash, and scattered with rocket. We’d forgotten to ask for our fillets to be cooked a bit rare, but nevertheless they were tasty and well complemented with the lemon, mash and rocket. Our waiter explained that they have a special deal with a fish shop in the shopping centre, so they can afford to offer some dishes at cheaper prices. I’ve paid $36 for a salmon fillet on its own at other eateries, with no discernible difference in the quality.

Egg and I were smugly pleased with our little find in suburbia. Where in Perth can you find a cooked lunch like this with a glass of wine for $20? Some places have the temerity to charge that for a sandwich. The dinner menu at Flinderz looked fine too – plenty of reasonably priced specials on different days. How can you beat $19 for 12 freshly shucked oysters and a glass of bubbles on Thursday nights?

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George St Bistro

2015-03-23 15.31.26 Meeting my bud Frenchy is always a great excuse to check out what’s happening in Freo. She lives in Coogee so I’m happy to head south and investigate foodie options in her territory. George St in East Freo is so cool with its cafes and wine bars in what is essentially a suburban street, and there’s plenty of parking.  I just love the vibe here.

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Meeting mid-afternoon on a Sunday means we’ve beaten the frantic morning brunch rush and have an excuse to drink a glass of bubbly. We’re not too hungry so choose a few items to share off the menu. We’ve scored a coveted booth seat  so we can get super comfy and  settle in for a few hours.  We need some carbs to soak up our glasses of Prosecco so the two types of bread with extra virgin olive oil is first up.

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You’ve got to love a place where the waiter fills our glasses to the absolute brim. Bless him. My glass minus a swig. No point mucking about is there?

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The tempura prawns with a pot of home-made sauce tartare sound enticing, and with their light batter and large juicy flesh, they hit the spot.

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Finally we decide on a bowl of olives, half stuffed with feta and half with sun-dried tomatoes. The olives are succulent and plump, and it’s a decent sized serve that keeps us nibbling for ages.

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George St Bistro is an airy, expansive cafe with a providore store adjoining it. There are cakes, slices, tarts and quiches available from the counter if you don’t want to order from the lunch menu.  The dinner menu choices sound interesting and varied. From Wednesday to Saturday dinner is an absolute  bargain at $55 for three courses, and on Wednesday nights the Bistro also offers three curries for $25 a head.  Our service was friendly and our food was simple but satisfying.  On a glorious sunny Sunday afternoon, this quiet suburban gem certainly beats the mayhem of bustling South Tce just a few kilometres away.

George Street Bistro on Urbanspoon

Lentil as Anything in Abbotsford

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Brunch at Lentil as Anything segued into an extended tour for Prince and me around the Convent at Abbotsford. With sweeping grounds, beautiful old trees, several cafes, and buildings with long corridors of office spaces that were formerly nuns’ rooms, Abbotsford is a tranquil haven that seems miles from the madding crowd but is only a 15 minute bus ride from Lygon St. We walked off our brunch by exploring the buildings and the grounds, whiling away several lazy hours.

2015-03-09 00.01.25 The premise for Lentil as Anything is a benevolent one. You eat, pay what you can afford, and the money helps train and support those who need it the most. It also allows for people on lower incomes to enjoy a wonderful meal without blowing their budgets. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week, this place is a constant bustle inside and out, and the kitchen churns out a massive amount of vegetarian food. With plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, you can sit and enjoy the offerings prepared by the staff of (mainly) volunteers, and finish it off with a coffee or choice of chai teas.

2015-03-09 00.03.47 Breakfast is ordered off the menu, while lunch is buffet style. As we were finishing brunch, people were lining up at the bain maries for lunch. There were noodles, rice dishes, stir fries, various curries and even chocolate pudding.

2015-03-09 00.06.04 Outside the roti guys were grilling tofu on the bbq. We’d heard that the roti spinning was a performance worth watching, but sadly, we missed out on this.

2015-03-09 00.02.20 HRH and I hedged on our choices as they all sounded amazing. In the end we decided to share two dishes so we could sample as much as possible. Corn cakes with Tuscan beans and a fried egg was our first dish, and whilst the corn cakes were a teeny bit hard, they were tasty and the beans were rich and tomatoey. We did experience food envy when we saw several plates of the pancakes with caramel sauce and seared apple coming out, but isn’t this often the way?

2015-03-09 00.04.30 We were well impressed with our other dish of Sri Lankan farmer’s dosa with masala potato,  yoghurt raita and tomato chutney. Super, super delicious. The chick pea and rice flour dosa that enveloped the mildly spiced potato, was smothered in a creamy saffron-coloured yoghurt sauce and topped with a scrumptiously rich tomato chutney. The combo of all the flavours was superb; I’ve eaten many dosas before but this was outstanding.

2015-03-09 00.05.05 Lentil as Anything in Abbotsford serves food with heart, and dining here was a positive experience. Now with four branches in Melbourne, it’s wonderful that the locals support this brilliant and humane enterprise. Bring a book and sit for a few hours enjoying not just the food, but the serene surroundings of the convent. Or bring your pooch and your kids, and stretch yourselves out on the grass for a bit of a lie down after your breakfast indulgence. It’s a feel good experience all round.

“Lentil as Anything Mission: Caring for people: Provide a wholesome and nutritious meal where money is not a concern. Promoting Multiculturalism: Fostering an environment of inclusion and not exclusion. Reforming Society: Acting on the structures of society to restore justice. Extending/Spreading it’s ethos and values: Hiring volunteers, the long-term unemployed and the marginalised. Encouraging: Young people to be active citizens and get involved in community based initiatives.”

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