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 Several of the tired and shabby shop fronts have been replaced by new cafes such as tbsp, Drip Espresso and the Artisan Market Cafe.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

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Cecchi’s

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Cecchi’s in Inglewood has been on my bucket list for several years, and I finally made it there for brunch a few weeks ago. This cosy Italian restaurant inhabits a converted house on Beaufort St, and has the perfect courtyard setting for brunch.  Inside those courtyard walls you could easily imagine for a moment that you are in a little trattoria in Tuscany, far removed from the busy thoroughfare it lies on.

With my son Alex for company, we asked for advice from our charming and personable waiter, and ordered our meals along with a 5 Senses coffee for me. Alex was slightly disappointed that the slow eggs were unavailable as they were still cooking, but instead accepted the recommendation of the Pugliese sausage, fried egg, marinated kale and crispy chick pea polenta. This was a well executed dish with good contrasts of colours, flavours and textures. The sausage wasn’t the usual version, but a mix of lamb and pork with fennel and herbs that had been pan fried.

The hot weather convinced me to try something different; the yoghurt sorbet with berries and muesli praline. This refreshing dish was delightfully cool and zingy on the palate, and I loved the accent of the crunchy muesli and the freshness of the berries. I had to eat quickly though as it didn’t take long for the sorbet to start melting.

We were ready to try one of Cecchi’s special morning desserts, but sadly their much touted brioche croissants with salted caramel ice-cream were no longer on offer. Cecchi’s has decided to take them off the menu during the hot summer months, and will be offering ricotta doughnuts instead. However as neither were available for us to try, we opted for the apple pie panacotta. This beautifully presented dish came with a crumbly scattered “crust”, apple sauce and little velvety cubes of apple jelly. Although the panacotta was not as wobbly as was expected (and I suspect this was deliberate because of the hot weather), this was truly scrumptious. All of the elements worked very well together in this dish; it was the perfect light morning treat and perfect for sharing.

Our charming waiter informed us that an Italian bar will be opening next door later this year, and that although this will complement the existing restaurant, it will serve its own tapas-style dishes. This is something that is needed in the Inglewood area, and I am sure will be a huge success. I’m sold on the quality of Cecchi’s food, and look forward to returning and trying the evening menu. Overall this was a very pleasant experience, with food, service and ambience all top notch.

http://cecchis.com.au

Cecchi's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dolce & Salato, Fremantle

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My south of the river bestie Lauren, loves D & S. Unlike me, she is super fit and slim and can blithely ignore a counter full of tempting cakes and delicacies. So when she suggests meeting there for coffee, I am instantly mesmerised by the cannoli, the profiteroles, the tartlets and rum-soaked babas, while her focus is on the healthy vego salad rolls on display. She assures me she regularly drops in for a container of their in-house gelato, but I’m somewhat skeptical that in her house of ever-ravenous teens, she actually eats any of it.

For the moment I settle on a large arancini filled with veggies and mozzarella, and enjoy this dish served warm, while Lauren chows down on her healthy roll – it does look pretty damn good with that generous slab of silky avo wedged inside.  There’s also a range of pizza slices that smell and look tempting, but as it’s only 10am I doubt my stomach would readily accept such an offering.

Lauren assures me that the coffees here are always good, and my latte certainly is hot,  robust and satisfying to the last drop.

There is a small range of savoury food here, but the focus is on the “Dolce” part of the name. The cakes and pastries look insanely good, and you can take home a tray of 12 little lovelies for only $18.  It would be seriously greedy of me to buy 12, so I settle on a few cannoli and profiteroles to share with AB later.

D & S also does a range of large cheesecakes and slices fit for a small crowd, and I was pretty excited by the look of their baked ricotta cheesecake. I’ve eaten various versions of this (and I’ve even made one), and I’ve never tried one I didn’t love. However, there’s no small crowd to feed so I content myself with my little bag of goodies, which later prove to be as good as they look.

D & S is a no-frills patisserie where you order and pay at the counter. It’s constantly busy with tables filling up inside and out as quick as you can blink. I get the impression there’s a loyal local following who pop in for coffee and cake in the mornings,  and there’s a table of older men sipping coffee and speaking Italian, who look like they are part of the furniture. The lady serving us is a delight, and we end up having a chin wag during the quieter moments, about life and the weather in Singapore where she tells us she hails from. Sometimes finding a good wait person really makes the occasion for me; I just love it when wait staff show enthusiasm for their products, and take the time to engage and connect with customers.

If I didn’t live in Dianella and if I didn’t have access to good coffee and cake nearby, I’d be tempted to venture to D & S more often. I hear they have a counterpart in Morley, so I might have to mosey on over there and check it out for myself. Purely for research purposes of course 🙂

Dolce & Salato Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Merrywell

The Merrywell was our chosen venue for a quick and easy pre-show meal at the Crown complex in Burswood. It offers typical pub fare, with homage to some classic American foods. Burgers and comfort foods are typically what the Merrywell is about, and AB and his girlfriend Amy opted for two such dishes.

AB’s Philly style steak sandwich was such a huge mouthful of food that he had to resort to a knife and fork to eat it with. The bun was soft and fell to pieces with the weight of all the fillings. Nevertheless he enjoyed the thinly-sliced wagyu rump, onions,  mushrooms, cheese and balsamic dressing. A satisfying manly dish, accompanied by a basket of thin fries.

Amy’s Donut Doubler burger was a meal of huge proportions that she struggled to finish. With double beef, crispy bacon and aged cheddar between a glazed donut (their spelling), she said it was a bit too rich for her taste. There’s nothing done by halves at the Merrywell – lots of carbs, cheeses, truffle flavours and oils.

My choice of the pink snapper tacos consisted of cumin-flavoured snapper pieces on a bed of pureed sweet potato in soft tacos.  This light and tasty dish was complemented by crunchy pickled red cabbage. I thought these little things might need a bit of help, so I ordered a side of fries rendered in duck fat with truffle salt. Looks like a whole lot of fried stuff going in those photos, right?  The side of fries was a huge plate that wasn’t worth the hefty price of $15.  To add insult to injury they failed to deliver any discernible improvement in taste.  It didn’t help that I prefer chunky style fries instead of the string versions served. Having eaten delectable roast potatoes cooked in duck fat, I was expecting something more. Well, it is pub grub after all, and perhaps I was a bit optimistic.

You choose your table, go up to the booth to order your food, and you’re served within a reasonable time. You buy your drinks separately at the bar.  If you arrive early enough in the evening, it’s a  pleasant enough eating environment but as the night wears on, the music is pumped up and it becomes crowded and noisy. The Merrywell is not fancy, but it fills the niche at Crown for those who want a reasonably decent meal before a show, without spending a fortune.

The Merrywell Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

Petition Kitchen

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Sexy, sophisticated, Melbourne-ish; all this and much more is the wonderful Petition Kitchen in Perth’s revamped and renovated State Buildings complex, alongside Cathedral Square. The restaurant is but one part of the whole building, and what an amazing building it is. An eight-year-long restoration project has seen this unloved old state govt building, transform into a cosmopolitan centre, housing a six star hotel, a beer and wine bar, several bespoke retail stores, and a handful of stylish restaurants.

Petition Kitchen was the setting for dinner with a few friends, and we were instantly impressed by the generous layout, the rustic floorboards, and the sheer enthusiasm of the wait staff. I was even further impressed when our jugs of chilled sparkling water were topped up during the evening – for free. I don’t of any other place on this planet that serves free sparkling water, but as I am addicted to the stuff, this dinner was on a train ride to the Elysium Fields.

The menu – it’s short but it’s intriguing and interesting and has dishes that just make you want to order them for the sheer hell of it. We opted for several share plates and would have fit in several more if it were possible. For me there were three standout dishes: the raw kingfish with beetroot, the duck liver parfait with grilled bread, and the chopped broccoli with puffed grains, sheep’s feta and walnuts. Oh my. How does a simple broccoli salad become so brilliantly crunchy, salty, creamy and damned delicious?  I eat truckloads of the little green trees and they never taste like this.

The dish of raw kingfish looked mighty purdy, and it tasted mighty good too. The waferish slices of fish were hunkered down amongst purple-red beetroot bites and whispy green beetroot leaves. A hint of horseradish and a zesty ginger vinaigrette added punch to this light and colourful concoction. I did not want to share. I wanted to take that plate and sit in the corner, savouring every forkful and not sharing a smidgeon with anyone. It’s OK to be selfish, right? When something is that good and you just want it for yourself?

The duck liver parfait – another culinary revelation. I’ve long loved the version offered by Cantina 663, but this was another contender for the best duck liver parfait in Perth award. It’s hard to pick a winner out of these two as both are bloody amazing, yet both are different. This one was less dense, creamier, served with thick fingers of grilled bread, and worth fighting over when there was just enough left on the plate for one more bite. OK, I may have been a little selfish again….

Our remaining two dishes were less memorable. Forget the baby qukes and carrot with onion creme – a waste of tummy space in my opinion with far more interesting options up for grabs. Yes they were OK – but they’re plain, unadorned carrots and cucumbers. Ergo, they are bog standard veggies and are not going to win any kitchen awards. Ditch the mundane and go for the innovative.

The roasted mushroom dish looked so beautiful and promising with its trendy warrigal greens, salted ricotta and potato, but it didn’t compare to my fave three dishes. I love mushrooms on any given day, and these mushrooms were absolutely fine; they just didn’t wow me the way the other dishes did.

I loved my experience at Petition Kitchen. It is my new favourite place in Perth. I might well return to get me some broccoli salad and some kingfish, and there is no way I am going to share. And I just might squeeze in a dessert; they looked mighty tempting too, but sometimes one has to just abide by what the gut says. “Nope, can’t fit any more in there”.  Next time…..there’s a burnt meringue with my name on it 🙂

 

Petition Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

Gill St Cafe, Mosman Park

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I met my south of the river bestie Lauren, for brunch in a cute cafe south of the river. This one is in the middle of the southern burbs, in a beautiful old converted corner house. With an outside deck and on site parking, it really is a little haven in the midst of suburbia.

There’s an all day breakfast menu, as well as a lunch menu that kicks in at midday. We chose to share a meal, and have a green smoothy and coffee each.

Our avocado, Persian feta, cherry tomato and basil on sourdough toast was delicious and plenty enough for two to share. I love that the serve of avocado was very generous, with the only minor gripe being that the toast was a bit dry and brittle. Could have done with less toasting.

Our green smoothies of apple, banana, spinach, chia, spirulina and lemon were really refreshing with a strong taste of banana. At $9.50 a pop though, they don’t come cheaply. Welcome to Perth 🙂

Coffees were perfect – hot, strong, and not bitter or burnt. Lauren is a regular here and says the quality is consistently good.

There is no table service here – you order and pay at the counter. You seat yourself and help yourself to water from the table on the verandah.

There was a range of jumbo sweet and savoury muffins in the display counter, as well as a few cakes and ready made baguettes.  Everything looked fresh and delicious and overall this was a pleasant experience on a lazy Sunday morning.

 

Gill St Cafe and Deli 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

Brooklyn Lounge

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We came here on a Friday night to take advantage of the brilliant oyster special. Hard not to love fresh oysters at $1 a pop, when they cost anything from $3 to $4.50 each everywhere else. Our group of 6 must have gone through hundreds of the little lovelies, some au natural, and some with lime and tequila dressing. Bottles of Tabasco sauce are provided to sprinkle on your oysters if you need a wow factor. We sat outside on the side street terrace as it was a beautiful evening, and enjoyed our feast, accompanied by cocktails and wine.

We came here a few months ago for the same Friday night special, and our experience was just as good. The wait staff are happy to take individual drink orders at the table, and allowed us to pay for them as we went, so no haggling over the bill at the end of the night. Not always easy in a group when people forget they ordered an extra dozen oysters or that lil ole glass of prosecco.

We’ve had several other menu items here – the bread with maple butter is yummy and goes down a treat with the oysters if you need a carb fix. The salads are gargantuan affairs and therefore great for sharing.

Brooklyns has a cosy corner inside with large chesterfield sofas where we’ve settled in  when we’ve had a bigger group. It’s so much easier to sit around low tables and chat rather than shouting down the long tables outside.

I’ve found the staff to be pleasant and on the ball, and service is always prompt. I’ve only been here on oyster nights, but there are other special nights – featuring sliders and hot dogs – during the week, and it’s a fab spot for a relaxing post-work drink any time.

It’s worth noting that Koko Black is just across the road in the Claremont shopping centre, and perfect for a post-oyster dessert/coffee fix.

http://www.brooklynlounge.com.au

Brooklyn Lounge 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

Prego Restaurant

Prego. Love the name, and the way Italians say it. Would the restaurant live up to the welcome of its name?

It’s a fairly austere environment with muted decor and little in the way of adornments. While aesthetics don’t determine your dining experience,  they can certainly enhance it. Our group of 5 was here to celebrate a birthday, and the birthday girl assured us her old favourite Prego would deliver the goods as far as quality dining goes. Many a good thing comes in plain packaging, right?

We opted for glasses of Prosecco all round, followed later by various wines by the glass at reasonable prices. A limited selection, but with some good options.

We were given a complimentary plate of Mediterranean falafel to start with. Covered with a creamy garlic mayo type of hummus and a tomato onion salsa, the falafel was moist and tasty and a well received starter. The salmon carpaccio was a hit at our table too, with its avocado salsa and strips of tender octopus adorning the plate.

Hooray for duck! Prego’s version was crispy skinned and slow roasted, and accompanied by green beans, a jus and baked polenta. Succulent meat inside and crispy, mild-spiced skin outside, the duck was lip smackingly good.  Oh my wordy lordy. There’s not much I love more than a superbly cooked duck dish, and this one met all the criteria.

Two of our group opted for the huge meaty plates of roast lamb shoulder and roast duck, which neither of them could finish.  Murmurings of approval for the slow cooked duo, but the protein overload on those massive plates had them wanting something green or orange to break up those hunks of meat. There’s only so much protein you can eat, especially when you’re ladies 🙂

Chocolate fondant was the unanimous choice for dessert. Accompanied by vanilla bean ice-cream, the fondant was appropriately oozy and a fitting end to a fine meal.

Service at Prego was uniformly charming and efficient. Italian accents always add charm to the occasion, and you’ve got to love that Italian waiters take their craft so seriously. Food, after all, is a serious matter. Prego is about traditional Italian ingredients cooked with love and pizzazz, served with pride in a simple setting. Prices aren’t cheap here, but the old saying “you get what you pay for” holds true. I can’t see this sedate establishment attracting the hipsters, but for the more mature patrons (of whom there were plenty the night we dined there), it’s pure gold.

 

Prego Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato</

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

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