Savour The Moment | To appreciate fully; enjoy or relish

The burgers are actually better @ The Burger Bistro

The Burger Bistro, Leederville

My boyfriend and I had once set up this challenge many years ago – to find the best burgers in Perth. We set ourselves on a task to try every burger joint in town, but eventually gave up, as life got in the way. We still keep this challenge in the back of our minds before every burger that we eat though. We were looking for a place to eat down the Leederville strip of Oxford Street, checked out almost every menu at every restaurant, and finally decided on The Burger Bistro. We had heard that The Burger Bistro was pretty good, and as my boyfriend had previous worked at Grill’d for a few years, he too had also heard a thing or two about The Burger Bistro being good.

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Delicious burgers and chips at The Burger Bistro

The Burger Bistro is proudly West Australian, using Certified Australia Angus Beef (CAAB) and Mt Barker free range chicken in their patties. Their Leederville store is their second store in WA, with their first store on Shafto Lane in the CBD. We had a quick browse through their menu, and ordered at the front counter. We couldn’t help but compare the different burger combinations with Grill’d. Most of them were similar, but we wanted something different.

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Medium sized thick cut chips with two dips ($8)

We ordered the thick cut chips to share (medium size was $8 with two dipping sauces), which came out first. The chips were good but not as good as the famous herbed chips from Grill’d. The chips were hot, crunchy and delicious. The price of the chips were a bit on the expensive side, but you do get quite a bit (much better than the tiny cup serving of chips you get at Grill’d).

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Gourmet New Yorker ($16.50) – CAAB Angus beef, balsamic caramelised red onions, sharp vintage aged cheddar, dill pickles and salad leaves

Our burgers came out about five minutes later. I ordered the Gourmet New Yorker ($16.50), which had CAAB Angus beef, balsamic caramelised red onions, sharp vintage aged cheddar, dill pickles and salad leaves. The burger came out with all the juices coming out of it, so we were expecting some finger licking goodness to come out of this burger. And indeed it was really delicious. My boyfriend said that the patty was much better than the one at Grill’d. The burger was mighty juicy, and the caramelised red onion was sweet and so delicious. The pickles and cheese were just spilling out of the burger with every bite I took. The burger had so much flavour from the pickles. It was mouthwateringly good.

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Rose and Thyme ($14.50) – Mt Barker free range chicken breast marinated in lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, rosemary, thyme, with salad and garlic mayo

My boyfriend ordered the Rose and Thyme ($14.50), which had Mt Barker free range chicken breast marinated in lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, rosemary, thyme, and came with salad and garlic mayo. My boyfriend loved it. The chicken was cooked perfectly – not of the dry and chewy variety. It was juicy and tender from the marination of lemon juice, rosemary and thyme. There was a decent amount of meat in there, too. The burger had a simple taste to it, but it was not over-the-top. It was just right.

The Burger Bistro has other options other than the usual meat burgers. They have vegetarian options, as well as a no-carb option which replaces the bun for a large salad and a choice of cheese, for the same price of the burger. Now that I think about it, I wouldn’t mind having this the next time I come back.

The Burger Bistro keeps everything simple. Their burgers are more on the pricey side, but they use unique ingredients in their burgers. They might not be as ‘cool’ as Grill’d or Jus Burgers just around the corner, but if you’re after a simple meal without the glitz and glamour, then The Burger Bistro has it all.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

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Address: 147 Oxford St, Leederville WA 6007
Website: http://www.theburgerbistro.com.au

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The Burger Bistro on Urbanspoon

Bites:

  • Open for lunch Monday to Thursday from 11:30am utntil 3pm, and for dinner from 5pm until 10pm, Friday all day from 11:30am until 10:30pm, and Sundays from 11:30pm until 10pm.
  • Their first store is located at Shafto Lane in the CBD, and their third store is located at 181 Adelaide Terrace in the CBD.
  • The Burger Bistro has recently opened up their pop up store, called BB, a pop up in Mount Lawley. Their menu sounds amazing and they use brioche buns – yum!
  • You can view The Burger Bistro’s menu on their website.

- A.

Capitalising on Tarts @ Cafe Myriade

Café Myriade, Northbridge

Board game galore!

Board game galore!

I don’t classify myself as an exceedingly competitive person. Even when I used to play netball in primary/ high school, I would never get wrapped up the heatedness of the competition, and would rarely resort to aggressiveness and complaints if we were losing. I’ve never been too concerned about ranks, prizes or recognition in either my personal life or career – I like to think of myself as someone who’s pretty chilled and easygoing, enjoying life in a calm, collected, appreciative way.

This all changes when I start playing board games. I completely and utterly lose my head – I can change into a point-winning-take-no-prisoners monster. Monopoly on play? Game on. I will buy Mayfair, build a million hotels, take all your money, reduce you to bankruptcy and annihilate you. It’s funny that something so kiddish can reduce me to a shouting, bubbling mess, but it’s times like this in Café Myriade that you can loosen up with friends, pass the time and have plenty of fun.

Chess pieces, imprisoned

Chess pieces, imprisoned

My friends and I had just wrapped up dinner at Pleased To Meet You, and both my friend and I came up with a simultaneous brainwave – why shouldn’t we indulge in drinks over one of our favourite pastimes? I hadn’t been to Café Myriade in over a year, but I’ve always thought the concept was brilliant – games, food and coffee. Who wouldn’t be able to resist it? It was time for a well overdue visit.

Taboo time!

Taboo time!

The four of us got there at about 9pm that Saturday night, the incensed crowds of partygoers thankfully still home bound. Café Myriade was pretty quiet so we grabbed a table on the floor, which was bordered by dozens of colourful cushions. A lovely lady came up as we sat, asking if we had been before. Half of us had, but the rest of us needed a quick overview. She introduced the different packages available. We purchased the drinks and 2 hour game package, which only came to $13.50 each. The lady had accidentally put in an extra cashout on my card, but the problem was fixed up pronto. She said she would be back at our table soon to set up a few games for us. It was a relief for me, because the café was crammed with every board/card game known to mankind. It was great to have some guidance!

A snapshot of the Monopoly themed roof!

A snapshot of the Monopoly themed roof!

Pot of green tea

Pot of green tea

My friend and I both had a green tea, a pot of hot fragrant herbal tea that washed down the desserts we had previously. It was delicious, not over brewed and had a mild taste. Whilst my friend hugged one of the chess set pieces for comfort and had their chamomile tea (she’s strange like that), we started off with two easy games – The Spot It card game and Geistesblitz 2.0. Both were super fun, quick games that didn’t involve too much brainpower and the instructions were simple and easy to understand. It was a good warm up before we got stuck into Taboo, Articulate (I always, ALWAYS lose that game) and the politically incorrect Cards of Humanity.

Chocolate Ganache tart ($5.90) 

Chocolate Ganache tart ($5.90)

The lady at the counter was very helpful, encouraging us to go and see her when we were finished with our games, which we did when we were finished. At about the halfway mark, my friend felt like something sweet, so she ordered the Dark Chocolate Ganache tart ($5.90). I believe it was factory manufactured, but it looked tantalizing all the same. I managed to get a small bite of it – a crisp, thin chocolate biscuit base contained a concentrated amount of chocolate, with fragments of peanuts embedded at the bottom layer of chocolate. It was extremely rich, so it was good that we shared it between the four of us! The strawberry tarts also looked particularly delectable that night – maybe for next time!

Inside Cafe Myriade!

Inside Cafe Myriade!

We hadn’t realised we had crossed over our 2 hour paid game session – it was only when we were notified by the staff that we even grasped how invested we were into our games! Articulate, in particular, was a struggle between the four of us – it was equal parts stressful and hilarious. Luckily, the staff at Myriade were unruffled about us going over time. They said we could continue up till about 12.15 am (yes we had played for three hours, unknowingly) and pay the extra hour afterwards, which only happened to be an extra $2.50 per person on top. The lady who had explained the games to us was going to notify us that our game session was up, but saw we were so into the game (it had got pretty intense with Taboo and Articulate by that stage), that she didn’t want to interrupt. How considerate!

The horse!

The horse!

More games on offer!

More games on offer!

I love Café Myriade. The set up is great, there are plenty of tables and chairs inside to accommodate for large groups of people. The games are all stacked up on easily accessibly shelves and it’s all fun and colour inside. There are also Wii packages available, though everyone that night were more into playing the old fashioned way, with cards and boards. The great thing for me was the Monopoly themed roof, which bordered the ceiling!

Tournaments = game on!

Tournaments = game on!

The drinks were nice, the food was good and the service was delightful – the three people that worked there that night were friendly and incredibly helpful! The games are also very user friendly and well organised. The range of food available is good if you feel like a bit of dessert (i.e. cakes, tarts, chocolate slices), though there are also some savoury dishes on offer. If you want to be entertained and want to try something different from the movies/shopping (or, like the girls and I that night, need a break from eating) than Café Myriade is your place (caution: you may become obsessed)!

Opening times!

Opening times!

Cafe Myriade outside!

Cafe Myriade outside!

 Rating: 7 out of 10.
★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Address: 2/98 Lake Street, Northbridge
Website: http://www.cafemyriade.com.au

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Cafe Myriade on Urbanspoon

Bites:

  • Open in the afternoon till late on weekends (2pm to 11pm on Sunday, 2pm to 12am on Friday and Saturday). Open Tuesdays to Wednesdays (from 7pm to 11pm).
  • Café Myriade also do loyalty cards (9 hours of game time and get one hour free!)
  • Many different events held at Café Myriade monthly including tournaments, duels , Nintendo challenges and social role playing games (check out their webpage for more info!).
  • No bookings available (though if you are looking for a function or space availability, you can contact them via email: Enquiry@cafemyriade.com.au).

- L.

Public & Co is Picture-Perfect

Public & Co, South Fremantle

Public & Co is now (sadly) closed – hopefully it will reopen in the near future!

I am extremely wary of Scoopon deals, especially when it comes to dining out. I’ve heard from many others, first-hand or via reviews, of the bad experiences from cafes and restaurants who advertise through Scoopon. The difficulty with the system is that the restaurants/cafes are either a) not in a central location and hence don’t attract a big customer base, b) includes food selection from a limited menu, c) has sneaky terms and conditions in their fine print, or d) have limited dining time options. Luckily, my cousin had taken into great consideration all these factors when she purchased one from Public and Co. We were well overdue for a catch up, as we both had been wrapped up in the trials and tribulations of work, especially my cousin, who had just started up at a new job.

One for the bike riders!

One for the bike riders!

The Scoopon included brunch and coffee or juice for $29 for two, at Fremantle’s Public and Co. My cousin also had consulted Urbanspoon for its aggregate rating (a safe 83% from 267 reviews) and have a quick look through reviews (most of which were positive) before she purchased it. We made a date for a Sunday morning, arriving there at 10am. Both of us rarely go to Fremantle as we both live North of the River, however we were going to make a day trip of it and do some walking at the nearby dog beach and go rug shopping (my cousin was doing some DIY interior designing).

Look out for the red door!

Look out for the red door!

Inside....

Inside….

I was immediately smitten by Public & Co as we arrived. It was on the corner of a suburban street, looking like a converted, refurbished house. We walked down the pathway along the side of it, ducking under an alcove of tree branches and leaves which had been artfully moulded into an archway – it looked like the doorway to a secret garden. We emerged on the other side, unscathed and up the stone steps to the fire engine red front door.

Beautiful inside!

Beautiful inside!

Public & Co was separated into three sections – the dark, main foyer area which looked a bit like a classy bar lounge from the 1940’s; the undercover outdoor area which had a quaint garden appeal and the area which we sat in, the main café area. I loved the trendy lime stone sections and the high ceilings. Best of all, it was bright and sunny from the French styled windows. It was still quiet when we chose a table in the sunshine, with not many tables occupied for the morning breakfast.

More places to sit!

More places to sit!

My Scoopon fears dissipated when I consulted the menu – there were at least 8 breakfast items to choose from, as well as a number of other lunch style dishes, if you needed something more substantial. The food was more than your standard eggs and bread as well – bacon bruschetta and a salmon gravlax sounded fantastic, but I decided I needed some comfort food for the cold, winter’s morning.

Spicy baked beans with chorizo

Spicy baked beans with chorizo

My spicy baked beans with chorizo (usually $18) was spot on – some of the best spicy baked beans I’ve had for a while. It was a little smaller than other cafés, however I’m always for one who favours quality over quantity.  The spicy baked beans were no canned version – it was a fabulous, hot combination of cannellini and red kidney beans, stewed perfectly and hadn’t collapsed into a mushy mess. The beans had been simmered with pieces of carrot, tomato, slices of chorizo and celery. I generally don’t like celery because I find it rather sharp on the palate, but it added a slight crunch to the earthy dish, and it had been cooked so that the majority of its flavours had melted away. They also hadn’t gone overboard with the chorizo, as it can often get overpowering – it was used to balance the heatedness of the dish. The egg was beautifully poached, with a translucent white and runny yolk – so very good. The last bit of perfection was the ciabatta bread, which had been lightly toasted and sprinkled with a splash of salt. Genius.

Big breakfast!

Big breakfast!

My cousin’s big breakfast (usually $26) included bacon, eggs, grilled tomato, mushrooms, gourmet pork sausage, avocado and toast. My cousin chose to have her eggs poached and just like mine, they were amazing. They hadn’t been scant on serving sizes just because it was a special deal as well – there was a mound of mushrooms, two large, meaty pork sausages, two halves of tomato and my prized beans on her dish. She loved it and found it exceptionally filling. Both dishes were pretty as a picture as well.

Orange juice

Orange juice

My orange juice looked like it was the manufactured juices, as opposed to the freshly squeezed variety. Despite this, it was still very nice and woke me up! My cousin and I really liked the candy cane striped straw that had been popped in the drink. The straw, made from paper, got a bit mushy after a while, but at least it was biodegradable.

Latte

Latte

My cousin’s latte looked heartening as well. Coffee as a kick-start is always great and my cousin relished in the well-textured milk, the perfect shot, and the decent amount of froth on top. Sugar had been placed on the side for her own admission. We sat for a while afterwards, catching up. The lovely, stylish ladies who served us were (like my cousin and I) equally rugged up for the chilly morning and asked if we wanted to more drinks to accompany our chitchat session. We passed, but it was nice that they gave us the option!

Our dishes!

Our dishes!

If I lived a little bit closer to Public & Co, this place would be my local favourite. It does clean, fresh and filling food. Their brunch menu on the weekend also extends from 8am till 4pm! I loved the ambience of Public & Co – it had a soothing atmosphere, evocative of a modern beach house with bikes parked out the front for those who had ridden in. They obviously take pride in their food and service, which was spot on. I was super impressed by everything, and for $14.50 each for drinks and food it was a giveaway. I would recommend it for anyone who is in the area; otherwise if you feel like a trip down South, this is a place to visit!

The bar area!

The bar area!

 Rating: 8 out of 10.
★★★★★★★★☆☆

Address: 25 Douro Rd, South Fremantle WA 6162
Website: http://www.publicandco.com.au/

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Public & Co on Urbanspoon

Bites:

  • Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner (Wednesday to Saturday, from 8am to 11pm; Sunday from 8am to 4pm).
  • An extensive list of drinks are on offer, including morning cocktails (ranging from $10-$18 per cocktail), ale, wine, smoothies and cold drip coffee.
  • Take away coffees also on offer!
  • Reservations available via phone (contact: 9336 4147) or through Dimmi.

- L.

Getting Sated @ Gaya Applecross

The Gaya Applecross, Applecross 

Getting invited to events has been a pretty exciting experience for A and I since we’ve started the blog – whilst we haven’t been inundated with requests to eat at places, we have received the odd exciting email. A couple of weeks ago, both of us were invited to The Gaya Applecross to try out their fusion Korean food. Both of us were keen to catch up after a few long, busy couple of months, so one wet, windy night, we made the trek down south to indulge in their food.

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Did you know that these towels expand? Nor did I….

Gaya looks like your average Korean restaurant from outside – wooden chairs and tables, artwork adorning the walls, candles on the table. A’s name was scribed on a little place card on the table, indicating our reservation. I’m not a huge consumer of Korean food (kimchi sets my mouth on fire, and Korean BBQs will leave a lingering smell of burnt coal in my hair for days on end), but A has travelled to South Korea extensively, so she knew her stuff when it came to authentic Korean food!

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Floral centrepiece

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Complimentary starters!

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A lovely way to start the meal….

We began the night with some complimentary starters, including two bites of what appeared to be airy cheese puffs. There was a sharp bite of parmesan in them and they were relatively crunchy, thought melt-in-the-mouth after the first initial seconds of being inside the oral cavity.

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Green Tea ($4)

Both of us ordered teas ($4 each), which came in hot steaming pots. A had the green tea, whilst I went for the yuzu tea, a speciality Japanese citrus fruit. I could smell A’s tea from afar – it had my favourite aroma of toasted rice! My tea was a lot more sweeter, almost like consuming a deliciously hot honey-lemon tea. Heavenly and perfect for the wet night!

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Crabmeat croquettes ($14)

The crabmeat croquettes ($14) were crunchy, crumbed spheres containing crabmeat, potato, cream, onion and egg. They were nicely deep fried and contained a compact amount of crabmeat. It came with a slurry of spicy tartare sauce, which also contained a few pieces of something pickled that added a flash of tartness before the next bite of croquette.

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Beef cream roll ($14)

The beef cream roll ($14) reminded me a bit of the dry bean curd rolls you get at dim sum. It consisted of enoki mushrooms, asparagus, beef, cucumber, capsicum and cream cheese tightly wrapped up into a roll. It was a lovely medley of colours, flashes of red and green, served alongside Gaya’s special sauce. I found the thinly sliced beef a bit too chewy, with a bit more effort required to tear away the parts of asparagus and the roll’s skin. I loved the combination of beef with cream cheese though! It was a decent starter, made better by the presence of those garlic chips, which added a crisp, smoky element. A loved it, finding the interesting ingredients working well together.

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Kimchi Cheese Jimiji ($12)

The Kimchi Cheese Jimiji ($12) was the surprise hit for the night. Like I had said prior, I’m not the biggest fan of kimchi, but I really liked this homemade cheddar-kimchi-onion-carrot hybrid. The kimchi was a spicy, chilli hit for A and I, but it was countered by the stretchy cheese. I loved the flavour of the cheese and the crispness of the whole pancake. It was drizzled in a sticky, balsamic-like sauce which further added to the curious combination of flavours.

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36 Pork ($30)

The 36 Pork ($30) was a bargain for its price tag. It was a mammoth section of sous vided pork belly, cultivated for a good 36 hours, as aforementioned. It had a crisp crackling and a dense amount of juicy pork, which for the most part, was rather tender. The sweet potato puree was a lovely accompaniment, though I felt that the Korean chives on top didn’t really add a lot to the dish except colour. The apples were beautifully glazed in soya bean sauce and in added in good proportion to the pork meat.

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Gaya BBQ Rib Galbi ($30)

Our Gaya BBQ Rib Galbi ($30) was a tall stack of gleaming, grilled short beef ribs, which was accompanied by a daikon roll salad, a nice fresh and attractive side to the ribs. The potato egg salad was something starchy to add to the works and I really liked the coconut rice ball on the side, which was like a compact ball of savoury glutinous rice. The ribs were nice, but lacked that fall-off-the-bone quality that you associate with hearty, finger-licking ribs. It looked a treat on the plate though!

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Truffle Hamburger Steak ($28)

The truffle hamburger steak ($28) was a moist, crumbly beef and pork mince patty. I couldn’t really taste the truffle, but I really enjoyed the cream sauce which complimented the meat and the rice alongside it. The mushroom was well cooked, as was the cauliflower. I skipped out on the bean sprouts as I wasn’t a particular fan of it, but as a whole the dish was quite nice. A found the dish rather odd with the rice, meat and sauce, and was probably her least favourite dish for the night.

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Red Misu ($8)

The Red Misu ($8) was a red bean take on the traditional tiramisu dessert. I loved it – it was probably my favourite dish of the night. It looked a bit like an oriental garden, the soil made of crumbly dark red chocolate, decorated with gleaming pastel coloured stones (candy coated peanuts). Beneath it were spongy portions of chocolate cake, saturated with a light syrup. It wasn’t excessively sweet and was broken up by pockets of red bean. Absolutely lovely.

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Gaya Gold Pave Chocolate ($8)

A had amazing things to say about the Hotteok, one of our another dessert options, but unfortunately the waitress came back around to say it had walnuts in it (cue internal cry of sadness). Instead, A ordered the Gold Pave Chocolate ($8) for us, which was creatively decorated with icing sugar. The chocolates were dense, with a smooth-paste like texture inside. They were incredibly rich and came in three separate flavours as denoted by the powder dusted on the outside. The green tea one was my favourite (as the bitterness of the matcha powder), followed by the wholegrain one (the white one on the far left) and then the chocolate cocoa one.

Overall, I had a very pleasant experience at Gaya Applecross. A and I received a 50% discount on our total bill as part of the invitation that Gaya had sent us, which meant that we had certainly got value for money! The service was straightforward, attentive and pretty good with recommendations, becoming very apologetic when they came back to tell us that the Hotteok did in fact have walnuts in it. Initially, the restaurant was relatively empty when we arrived, but it began to fill up quickly – The Gaya Applecross was indeed quite popular with the locals. The food was overall at a good standard, with colourful, clean plating and some very homely, traditional flavours. We knew we had ordered way too much when the third dish came out, and we were not even half way through. But at 50% off the bill, we didn’t want to complain that much! I would certainly recommend the red misu dessert and the kimchi cheese jimiji. Thank you Gaya for having us!

Rating: 7 out of 10.
★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Address: Shop 3 & 4, 3 Kearns Crescent, Ardross WA 6153 (inside Applecross Arcade)
Website: http://www.the-gaya.com/

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The Gaya Applecross on Urbanspoon

 Bites:

  • Open for lunch and dinner (Wednesday to Sunday from 5:30 pm to 10pm; Friday to Sunday from 11:30am to 2:30pm).
  • Set menu also available  from $45 pp.
  • Bookings can be made via phone (contact: 9364 8887) or through Dimmi.

- L.

Pleased to Eat You

Pleased To Meet You, Northbridge 

Asian fusion. Dude food. My four favourite words. I’ve always loved an inventive twist on traditional Thai/Chinese/Singaporean cuisine and it is even better when the experience can be shared with family and friends. Perth is undergoing somewhat of a food revolution over the past few years – restaurants are becoming more concept orientated than ever before, and unafraid of trying out new combinations, importing over things like dude food, tapas styled joints from America and what not. The sheer quantity of restaurants opening up makes the competition harder, so it’s originality and word of mouth that keeps foodies invested.

Menu consultation...

Menu consultation…

Pleased To Meet You was my recommendation for a catch up with my three high school friends. I had heard pretty great things about their food from fellow friends, and my sister, who had visited over a week before. First impressions were that it was very “Melbournian” – foliage crawling up the white washed brick walls, long tables with stools for communal dining, an extensive sparkling bar area and half a dozen Siriyacha chilli bottles, which was found in almost every restaurant I went to in Melbourne. Best of all were the bag hooks (which I did not discover until halfway through our meal) – it made for so much more space in our adjacent area.

Hot sauce!

Hot sauce!

The menu is printed out on a long board right next to the till. Drinks and food are ordered at the counter, where it can be prepaid or placed on a food/drinks tab. We decided to just pay for all our food upfront. The menu was divided up into five sections – small plates, breads, garden, animal and sweets. The guy at the till  was jovial, quick and on the ball, smashing out our rather extensive order.

Pulled Pork Sliders ($9)

Pulled Pork Sliders ($9)

The Pulled Pork Sliders ($9) were the first to come out and were a quick favourite between my foodie friend and I. The brioche buns had a nice kick of glazed sweetness, on the chewy, buttery bread that worked well with the delicious, moist pulled pork. They had really packed it on the meat, which had a smoky, tomato-y BBQ like flavour to the pork. Stewed peppers accompanied the meat inside. It was tender, delicious and a true representation of dude food.  We had ordered two between the four of us, which was just enough considering the onslaught of food that would be following it.

Buffalo, Shitake & Blue Salad ($15)

Buffalo, Shitake & Blue Salad ($15)

The Buffalo, Shitake & Blue Salad ($15) was a strong recommendation from the guy at the till (I had originally wanted the watermelon salad, but he quickly suggested I try something outside my comfort zone). I don’t like blue cheese very much, but luckily it was used sparingly in the dish, as a underscored flavour for the dressing. I captured bites of the pungent taste of blue cheese at random intervals, but luckily it had only touched parts of the salad. The salad had been predominately made up of parlsey and cos lettuce leaves, and livened up with a good handful of pecan nuts. My favourite component were the grapes – they had been halved,  and were juicy and fresh, scattered liberally throughout. I don’t know if all the elements melded together – it was a slightly mismatched salad with the greens, the grapes, the nuts and the cheese, but it wasn’t too bad.

S&P Squid Banh Mi ($8.50)

S&P Squid Banh Mi ($8.50)

Love was found in the S&P Squid Banh Mi ($8.50). The kitchen team at Pleased To Meet You had considerately halved the baguettes into four portions for us to share. The bread was soft, stuffed with an abundance of salt and pepper squid. The crunch of the deep fried squid was fantastic – it was brittle, crumbling, flavoursome and provided a great contrast in texture to the bread. Pickled carrot, mayo, parsley and mint made up the rest of the Banh Mi. It was absolutely fantastic. I could have had another few more of it!

Beef Tongue Ruben Bao ($6)

Beef Tongue Ruben Bao ($6)

We all shared one Beef Tongue Ruben Bao ($6), which equated to about a bite each. This wasn’t as bad as it sounded, because we all weren’t bowled over by this dish. I loved the Ruben Bao, which had been well steamed, with its trademark glossy skin – the downfall for me (and the rest of my friends) was the strong metallic taste from the beef tongue. It came to my attention that this could possibly be a defining characteristic for beef tongue, but its dense condition didn’t really appeal to our personal tastes.

Ground Rump Burger ($13.50)

Ground Rump Burger ($13.50)

The Ground Rump Burger ($13.50) was another fist pump moment during our dinner. It utilised another brioche bun, which had been grilled inside giving the first few bites a nice toasty crunch. There was a slick slide of sticky tomato sauce, lettuce, a gooey section of cheese and lettuce crammed inside. The beef fillet was phenomenal – burning hot, fresh off the press, the meat just melting away in the mouth. We shared one between the four of us, which still gave us considerable quarters after I butchered my way through it. I can understand why my friends are embarrassed to dine out with me sometimes.

Coconut Ceviche ($12.50)

Coconut Ceviche ($12.50)

The Coconut Ceviche ($12.50) dazzled the taste buds. It was probably the best refresher for the insurmountable number of “breads” we had ordered off the menu. The fried shallots worked wonders with the coconut milk infused pieces of fish. The fish was iridescent in colour and very fresh, mixed with cubed pieces of cucumber and tomato. It came in a small wooden bowl, but was certainly enough for the four of us – we got a good few scoops out of it.

Roast Pork Ramen ($17)

Roast Pork Ramen ($17)

As crude as this sounds, my favourite form of Ramen is the home cooked-packets-bought- at-the-Chinese-store type. For my well travelled friends, they weren’t singing high praises over the Roast Pork Ramen ($17), as they have had “authentic” ramen over in Japan and Taiwan. They thought the broth was a rather underseasoned and that the noodles had been slightly overcooked. I agreed with the lack of flavour, but I did like the roast pork – thick slabs of meaty pork, with veins of fat still intact. The egg inside was killer, a slow cooked version with an oozy yolk. It also came with a sprinkle of shallots, spring onions, bamboo shoots, straw mushrooms, dried seaweed and big portions of fresh corn (which was my favourite element). A touch more salt in the dish could have made it a good one.

The Ice Cream Nachos ($6)

The Ice Cream Nachos ($6)

The Ice Cream Nachos ($6) were an enigma. The crunchy, tortilla chips were slightly salty, but had been powered with icing sugar. It had pierced several scoops of ice cream, which had a distinct nutmeg/cinnamon flavour to it. Tiny chopped pieces of strawberry, mingled with fresh mint, had been scattered on top, along with some strips of canned mango. As a whole, it had a unique set of combinations – an organic spice from the ice cream, a slight sourness from the mango, saltiness from the corn chips and a sweetness from the strawberry.  They clashed a little bit, and I felt as though the strawberries had been suppressed by the sheer amount of mint that had been tossed in with it.

S’Mores ($7)

S’Mores ($7)

The S’Mores ($7) were a revelation. First of all, they looked great – charred cubes of marshmallow, globs of cream, quenelles of chocolate mousse and shards of chocolate biscuit. It was an innovative interpretation of the American favourite. The marshmallow was a bit dense, but worked well with the crisp chocolate biscuit which cracked under pressure. The globs of cream were like a delightfully light whipped custard. The chocolate mousse was glossy, smooth and decadent. I loved it.

Back at the bar...

Back at the bar…

Our food was ogled at by the party of four seated up next to us and we were happy to point out which dishes had really done the restaurant justice! Between my friends, there were mixed reactions at the end of the day. One of my friend’s was decidedly not impressed with the food, whilst my foodie friend and I thought it was a mixed bag, with a series of highs and some that missed the mark. The pros included the fun, lively bright atmosphere, matched with bubbly and excitable staff who went that extra step to provide a great atmosphere.

A gem on Roe St!

A gem on Roe St!

I loved the blue patterned vintage plates, which was a throwback to the cutlery plates in my grandma’s house. It made the ambience in the mess hall-like dining area all that more warm and homely. I would certainly return to PTMY and perhaps sample their duck taco and their coal roasted suckling pig.There is so much on the menu to choose from – that is half the fun! The other half, is of course… eating.

Sneaking away a business card!

Sneaking away a business card!

 Rating: 7 out of 10.
★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Address: 38 Roe St, Northbridge WA 6003
Website: http://www.pleasedtomeetyou.com.au/

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Pleased To Meet You on Urbanspoon

Bites:

  • Open for dinner Monday to Thursday (5pm to late) and Friday to Sunday for lunch and dinner (12pm to late).
  • Sister shop of La Cholita and Who’s Your Mumma (all owned by Lavish Habits).
  • The menu is divided up into different sharing plates – small (entrée size), bread (rolls/sliders/burgers), garden (salads and sides), animal (more hefty mains) and sweets (self explanatory). Menu available on the website!
  • No reservations available.

- L.

 

Tucking into some Brunch

Tuck Shop Café, Northbridge 

It’s astounding what a couple of years can do. The Northbridge territory often draws shudders of fear from Perth-ians and rightly so. It’s a suburb notoriously known for its wild nightclub scene, its random acts of violence, gang assaults and heavy police crackdowns. During the day however, Northbridge is a relatively calmer and safer scene. In the last couple of years, it’s gone up in terms of popularity, eatery wise. A few of my local favourites are placed in the new cultural hubbub of Perth, one of which is Tuck Shop Café.

Back on Newcastle St!

Back on Newcastle St!

The very first time I went to Tuck Shop Café, I remember being remarkably impressed. The pork belly was a standout, complete with my two favourites: potatoes and chorizo. It certainly went down a treat and to this day, has set the benchmark for clever, nourishing food at affordable prices. On top of that, the service is always gracious and the dishes look a treat!

My friend from Melbourne was in town for a couple of days, and so we decided to catch up on a balmy Winter’s day. Both of us were ultimate foodies – when I had visited Melbourne earlier on in the year, she had been happy to recommend a list of her favourite cafes and restaurants, which I was eternally grateful for. We had quite a bit to talk about, so we chose Tuck Shop as a reliable destination.

Loyalty Card Member galore!

Loyalty Card Member galore!

I had gleaned on Urbanspoon that Tuck Shop could take reservations, so I called up the day before to make a booking. The lady on the other end said that they were only currently taking bookings for 6 to 8 people (damn), so she suggested that I call up tomorrow, 30 minutes before I was due to arrive, so that my name would be put on a waiting list. They were anticipating the Saturday morning breakfast rush, which was pretty smart. I followed her instructions to the tee, and met my friend there at 9am on the dot. The lady at the front confirmed that I was indeed on the list and we proceeded to wait. The place looked packed.

Whilst we were waiting....

Whilst we were waiting….

The lady came out at random intervals to let us know how far we were away from being seated. Luckily, my friend isn’t the complaining type, so as the minutes ticked by, we preoccupied ourselves by chatting about our lives. By the time we were ushered in, we had been outside for about 30 minutes. I also bumped into another friend who was in the area grabbing a coffee. She had been waiting for her take away flat white for about 20 minutes (inching towards the half and hour mark), which gave us an initial indicator of how long we would be around for, pre-food. The curses of popular places…

Apple Juice ($7.50)

Apple Juice ($7.50)

When we were finally seated (up towards the front, me on a cushy black booth, my friend delegated to a chair), we were given menus and tap water. To my delight, the menu had changed very little from my last visit, a year previously. All my favourites were still there! I settled for an apple, lemon and ginger juice ($7.50). It was pretty expensive for a drink, but as it was a freshly squeezed juice, infused with one of my favourite herbal remedies (go ginger!) I wasn’t too fussed. The juice itself was rather stimulating. It had taken about 10 minutes or so to come out, but it hadn’t taken as long as my friend’s latte, which took a good 20-25 minutes to arrive at our table. The poor barista must have been busting his chops that day.

Latte ($3.90)

Latte ($3.90)

The regular sized latte ($3.90) had a beautiful consistency of froth, but there were some obvious flaws with the coffee. A glance at the drink told me almost everything I needed to know – the glass housed a latte that was tinged with a brown-greyness, dull in comparison to a typical coffee, which is often identifiable by the golden caramel glow of a rich crema. Another sip from my friend and I informed us that the coffee shot was well over extracted – burnt, bitter with a slight ashy aftertaste. It was not good, and my friend felt very bad as she left it on the bench, almost untouched.

Smoked cod, potato and leek bake ($19.50)

Smoked cod, potato and leek bake ($19.50)

The food fared a lot better that my friend’s latte. Nothing spoke to me more that day that a heady, hot pot of smoked cod, potato and leek bake ($19.50) which came in a burning hot china pot (potential burning accidents pre-emptively avoided by the waitress, who had warned me about how hot it was). Big, flaky portions of pink and white fish had simmered in a rich, creamy sauce, along with portions of potato and specks of leek. The fish had been cooked immaculately, gleaming fragments of fish falling apart at a single touch. My poached egg was magnificent in its element, gooey yolk and all. The large slab of toastie to the side was a bit too crusty and dry for me – I like my toast only lightly grilled, so it still retains the sponginess of the bread. Despite this, it was an ingenious idea to pair a toastie with the smoked cod bake and I had no qualms in devouring it.

Chilli Con Carne ($19.50)

Chilli Con Carne ($19.50)

My friend’s Chilli Con Carne ($19.50) was a Spanish affair, a medley of tomato, beans, vegetables and beef. The dish was mildly spicy, setting the taste buds off in drooling mode with its aromatic presence – you could smell the spices mingling in the air, as it was placed down complete with the tomato, avocado and lime salsa. The poached egg was a polished, white island in the middle of the lava-like chilli con carne, the remnants that were, of course, swept up by the two pieces of sourdough toast.

Hot chilli anyone?

Hot chilli anyone?

Our food had arrived about 30 minutes after our drinks had been delivered, which meant that our total waiting time that morning had equated to about an hour, from arriving to embarking on our food. It was clear that Tuck Shop was struggling with its heavy influx of customers – even the wait at the till was about 5 minutes after we got up to leave. The lady who served us was polite and very nice, but having to wait 20-30 minutes for a coffee isn’t a particularly ideal situation.

My winter warmer!

My winter warmer!

Despite this, the food at Tuck Shop speaks volumes – for less than $20, you are getting substantial food, sure to please anyone with its colourful, homey presentation. As much as I would love to give this place top marks, I think it was just an off day for one of my favourite joints – the five times I have visited previously, Tuck Shop Café possessed pitch perfect service, coffee and food. It’s a step up from its seemingly humble name, a place that serves so much more than jelly cups and cheesies.

Al fresco dining

Al fresco dining

Tuck Shop is a must try for those who want an enjoyable brunch experience, though I would strongly advise going on a weekday – hopefully, the pacing of food is delivered more promptly than the day I went and the coffee is a little more spot on. Their breakfast is always something special – no plain eggs and toast here at Tuck Shop – instead you get a range of different items across a range of international cuisines.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Address: 178 Newcastle St, Northbridge WA 6000

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Tuck Shop Cafe on Urbanspoon

 Bites:

  • Open for breakfast and lunch every day of the week (7am to 4pm daily).
  • Serves take away coffee, utlising Toby’s Estate beans!
  • Daily specials are available on the blackboard menu.
  • Takes reservations for parties of 6+ people (contact via phone: 9227 1659).

 – L.

Morning Magic at Mary Street (Mary Street Bakery Revisit)

Mary Street Bakery, Mt Lawley 

Getting up early is clearly not my forte. This particular Thursday was my day off and like any other end of Autumn season day, the chilly cold was doing nothing to motivate me out of bed and beyond. Fortunately, my motivation/enthusiasm was fuelled by the prospect of food with one of my best friends. She was leaving for Singapore for a 6 day trip and despite it being a relative short passage of time for a vacation, I was going to miss her dearly and needed to have a proper send off with her before she left.

Awake at the crack of dawn….

Awake at the crack of dawn….

The criteria was simple enough – it had to be a place within a 10-15 minute drive from the Galleria (my friend had a haircut appointment there) and serving a hearty breakfast from 7:30am. Mary Street Bakery popped up immediately on my list of options; I hadn’t been since my sister and I went almost 6 months ago, and the enticement of sitting inside a warm, bread and pastry scented cafe sounded like the ideal way to kick start the morning.

Morning glow of Mary St Bakery

Morning glow of Mary St Bakery

We grabbed a table and a menu was placed on the table, graced by some newbie dishes. Everything looked amazing and my friend and I had a fun time saying the dishes to each other – Mary Street Bakery’s dishes lists their prime ingredients across a running line with limited punctuation, so we attempted to mimic the lack of commas by saying it all in one breath. It was childish, but pretty funny at the time. Maturity is the key word sometimes….

Chai Tea

Chai Tea

The whitewashed walls and dim glow of the establishment gave the Bakery a sense of austereness, with further warmth coming from the amber radiance of the heaters, and bursts of colour from the tall flowers at a few different tables. My friend ordered a Chai Tea Latte that came in a pot. The milk was fluffy at the top, hot with a flurry of chai leaves crushed at the bottom. My friend quite enjoyed it.

Slow cooked eggs with buttered toast ($12) & side of mushrooms ($5)

Slow cooked eggs with buttered toast ($12) & side of mushrooms ($5)

My friend ordered the slow cooked eggs with buttered toast ($12), along with a side of mushrooms ($5). It was a simple dish that looked like it could have come from a country kitchen – two grilled pieces of thick cut toast, with two gleaming slow cooked eggs which came alongside it. I’ve never been a huge fan of slow cooked eggs (I’m more of a scrambled person), but I liked these, sprinkled with a bit of pepper. The large grilled field mushrooms added to the country-side illusion – they certainly hadn’t skipped out on the basics!

Fried Chicken Buttermilk Pancakes ($21)

Fried Chicken Buttermilk Pancakes ($21)

My Fried Chicken Buttermilk Pancakes ($21) was a monster of a dish. Its sheer size and uniqueness prompted a “that looks delicious,” from a fellow customer. I couldn’t have agreed more. It seems like an odd combination, but I’m a huge fan of combining sweet with savoury. The dish had a slight Asian influence, from the thick peanut pancakes to the deep fried chicken. I love the use of buttermilk as a batter for chicken – it makes the skin a tad crispier than the norm, retaining a crumbling element to the deep fried batter. There was maple syrup in the proceedings too, but only a smidge had been used (luckily, the pancakes hadn’t become soaked in it too). The fried egg of top had a perfectly gooey yolk.

I was totally stuffed by the end of it – there had been layers and layers of spongy pancakes, at least a half a chicken smacked on the top and if that didn’t finish you, the egg would have! It was a heavy dish that would please a starving strapping man (and someone like me who has a uncontainable appetite).

The pink neon sign!

The pink neon sign!

It was soon time to leave for my friend’s appointment, which meant we didn’t have time for a sweet treat (I’m a massive advocate of Mary Street Bakery’s rhubarb tarts) and we passed on take away. Service was great as always, the food coming out at a timely manner, the staff on the ball with replacing empty water bottles and cleaning the place up.

Too cool for school, yo!

Too cool for school, yo!

Mary Street Bakery also caters for young kids, with a selection of baked treats at the front counter, or cheese on toast from the menu. There is also plenty of outdoor seating for those who want to soak up the craziness of Beaufort Street. My friend hilariously identified the plates as belonging to Ikea, but I like the ambience of Mary Street Bakery – there is not just warmth in the setting, but in the smiles of the people at the counter and in the heartiness of their food. Don’t miss a chance to go down there and try their food!

Rating: 8 out of 10.
★★★★★★★★☆☆

Address: 507 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA 6003

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Mary Street Bakery on Urbanspoon

Bites:

  • Open every day for breakfast and lunch (from 7am to 4pm).
  • Spaces are available for functions (contact info@marystreetbakery.com.au).
  • Morning booze (i.e. Bloody Mary, wine and beer) on sale for the adventurous types!
  • No reservations available.

- L.

Something Special @ Stewart’s at Brookleigh

Stewart’s at Brookleigh, Millendon

I’m all about life’s simple pleasures, and having half a day off work was one special blessing that I was going to capitalise on. My dad had also just flown in from his fly-in, fly-out stint and it was mum’s day off work. Having felt rather bad about not taking them out to a proper meal on Mother’s Day (we did have a lovely afternoon tea at The Cheese Barrel that day, however), I decided to “make it up” to them by booking a 1pm lunch at Stewart’s at Brookleigh.

Stewart's at Brookleigh

Stewart’s at Brookleigh

I knew from the get go that the service was going to be something special – the girl that answered the phone and had taken my booking sounded bright and bubbly, and happened to be the first person to greet us as we entered. We were swept over to a table for four, and provided with menus and tap water instantaneously.

Dining area, all to ourselves!

Dining area, all to ourselves!

The maitre’d was quick to make friendly conversation with us, asking if we had been to Stewart’s before – I had been previously with my sister and raved about the churros. Our waitress said the churros had been a hit with other customers and luckily was still on the menu (yay!). She circled back around a little while later to inform us of the specials and to see if were in need of any alcoholic beverages.

Snagging a seat inside...

Snagging a seat inside…

The Stewart's coat of arms?

The Stewart’s coat of arms?

Stewart’s was stationed in an idyllic estate, greeting us with a beautiful avenue of trees. The grass was green and lush, the vineyards were young, the hills beyond shielded in a romantic misty haze. Centered in the midst of all this natural splendour was Stewart’s, which could have easily been mistaken for a modern country-side cottage. Beyond the antique wooden doors was a warmly lit, carpeted, wide room. My parent’s were delighted with this hidden treasure, so close to home. Mum was already plotting to take her friends over to showcase the best of Swan Valley.

Pressed pork belly ($21)

Pressed pork belly ($21)

We kick started the meal with an entrée of pressed pork belly ($21) which we shared between the three of us. It looked very attractive on the plate, a long section of meat, with a well-executed golden crackling. It sat atop an artistic swirl of butternut squash puree, which had an enjoyable nutty sweetness. Apart from the juicy, tender pork belly, the scallops and the black pudding were also remarkable components of the dish. The black pudding was crisp on the edges, meaty and wonderfully flavoured. The scallops were cooked to perfection, charred on the sides and just translucent, withholding a delicate flavour. The dish showcased great cooking technique and attention to detail. Fabulous. Our used plates and cutlery were taken away promptly and our mains arrived in record time.

pork loin saltimbocca ($39)

Pork loin saltimbocca ($39)

I had the pork loin saltimbocca with cauliflower cream, honey roasted pears and cider jus ($39). The pork loin came out hammered into cutlets with the fat rendered nicely. The first pork loin I had was tender and pink – the two following it were a little bit over, a tad on the chewy side. Inventively, basil leaf had been embedded into each pork loin to enhance its flavour. The rocket on top had been coated in a parmesan cheese-like dressing, encompassing a sharp tartness which contrasted with the sweet honey pears.

The cauliflower cream was a revelation by itself, smooth, creamy and béchamel-like in taste. It worked wonders with the four carefully roasted honey pears, which were not grainy in the slightest and cooked till just soft. I only had a splash of the cider jus, but it added to the moorish quality of the dish.

Fisherman’s stew ($39)

Fisherman’s stew ($39)

My dad’s Fisherman’s stew ($39) was ginormous. It was a huge plate that contained local seafood, which had been generously coated in a tomato and saffron sauce. The local seafood incorporated huge chunks of salmon, several pieces of squid and octopus and scattered on top were clams and mussels. The mussels and clams lacked “meat” as my mum liked to put it, but the squid and octopus had been cooked rather well. A blob of garlicky mayonnaise had been smacked in the center, almost like a refined version of the tartare sauce often served with fish and chips. “Mopping-up” bread consisted of two large pieces of ciabatta toast. Dad was very content with this dish – there was so much in it!

Market Fish ($36)

Market Fish ($36)

My mum ordered the market fish, which happened to be King Whiting ($36) served with potatoes and a citrus salad. The King Whiting was a lovely, flaky piece of fish and the potatoes were delicious. The best part of the dish was that it was crispy with a pan fried exterior – done up just like how mum does it at home! The citrus salad included pieces of tomato and orange, which added a zing and a smack to an otherwise traditional dish. Visually, it was also an impressive arrangement, decorated with rocket and thin slices of radish.

Churros with molten chocolate dippy eggs ($12.50)

Churros with molten chocolate dippy eggs ($12.50)

We had to rest our sated stomachs before we embarked on dessert. The four choices we were faced with turned out to be a difficult process of elimination, as they all sounded fantastic. I went for the cinnamon sugared churros with molten chocolate dippy eggs ($12.50), as expected. The eggshells housed the decadent dark chocolate ganache, with much more chocolate than we needed. I literally consumed it by the spoon, the richness of the ganache sending me into fits of ecstasy. We were given six long churros, just crunchy on the outside and coated with a crystalline layer of cinnamon sugar. They were warm and spongy inside and hit all the right spots.

Sticky date pudding ($12.50)

Sticky date pudding ($12.50)

My mum and dad loved the sticky date pudding ($12.50) with vanilla ice cream and toffee sauce. The sticky date pudding itself was fluffy and warm, the floor of the pudding drenched in an opulent toffee sauce. The vanilla ice cream came in a mammoth scoop, specks of vanilla bean visible throughout the ice cream. My mum sneakily ate the strawberries placed on both desserts. It was a fantastic winter dessert, a family favourite done well.

Dining area for two

Dining area for two

Service, as aforementioned, was a standout. The lovely lady that served us whizzed around the restaurant, the only person on the floor that day. Granted it wasn’t busy (there were only two seated tables during our dining session, with another walk in coming in around the 2pm mark) but she never ceased to be sociable and earnest, personalising what could have been ordinary service. The food came out quick and fast and our water was consistently replenished. The lady took my Entertainment Gold card without a fuss, leaving us with a bill of $129 after deducting my mother’s market fish. My parents and I were very happy with the quality of the food and the exemplary service we received that day.

Stewart's extensive wine options!

Stewart’s extensive wine options!

On the Brookleigh estate!

On the Brookleigh estate!

Come to Stewart’s for the picturesque setting, the great service and its elegant food. The drive around the area is also a bonus, especially along the upper end of West Swan Road. The day we went was grey and drab, the surrounding hills and private estates reminiscent of countryside England, with the emerald fields and the vibrant burgundy flurry of the Autumn vineyards, stark against the miserable skies. You also might catch a glimpse of a few grazing horses and lambs! Stewart’s is a great fit into the beautiful scene that is Swan Valley and a must go for those who want to sample a special part of Western Australia.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10
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Address: 1235 Great Northern Hwy, Upper Swan WA 6069
Website: http://www.brookleigh.com.au/stewarts-introduction.html

Stewart's at Brookleigh on Urbanspoon

Bites:

  • Open for lunch and dinner Wednesday to Sunday (12pm to 3pm for lunch; 6pm till late for dinner).
  • Kids menu available for family friendly dining (for guests up to 12 years of age) including pizza, pasta, fish and chips and vanilla ice cream for a dessert option.
  • No split billing available.
  • Entertainment Gold Card discount (one complimentary main meal when one of the equal or less value is purchased, up to the value of $50).
  • Reservations available via Dimmi or thorough phone (contact: 9296 6966).

- L.

Thai-riffic Food at S & T Thai Gourmet Café

S & T Thai Gourmet Café, Northbridge

As my bestie bluntly puts it, I don’t eat enough Asian food. She’s right on some grounds – I do eat Asian cuisine, but have enough home-cooked meals made lovingly by mum that I don’t often feel the lure of my background cuisine when faced with eating out options. I usually want to try something different, something strange, inventive and un-attempted in my parent’s kitchen. This time around, the bestie enticed me to try out S & T Thai Gourmet Café, which I heard great things about.

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Just in case you miss S & T Thai Gourmet Cafe….

The café itself doesn’t look like anything particularly special – it could easily be your run of the mill restaurant. The white walls are bare apart from a few random paintings, the chairs are plastic and there is that impenetrable whiff of tamarind in the air as you step through the doors. I wasn’t particularly excited by the ambience, but I was ready to let the food speak for itself.

Thai Iced Tea

Thai Iced Tea

One thing I wasn’t ready for was the sheer number of dishes available on offer. I had a minor nervous breakdown, faced with a double sided A2 laminated menu of new dishes (as well as specials adorning the walls), finally allowing the bestie to decide on what to eat. She recommended that we try the Thai Iced Tea with milk. I quizzed her about the contents as it came out – she reported there was black tea (of course), ice (check), condensed milk and something else which tasted like cane syrup and a few different spices. I was intrigued by its vibrant orange colour, but rather enjoyed the spikes of sweetness we got every time I had a sip. The dairy drink would also surely mellow out the chilli that we would be consuming later on.

Goong Looy Fire ($16.90)

Goong Looy Fire ($16.90)

More prawns...

More prawns…

To start off, the bestie suggested we go for the Goong Looy Fire ($16.90), BBQ marinated prawns skewers served with chilli sauce. There were at least ten succulent prawns, cooked to absolute perfection, pearly flesh still in tact speared on the skewers. They had been sprinkled with chilli and shallots, alongside a wedge of lemon. The prawns had already been doused in a sweet chilli sauce, which emphasised the natural flavours of the prawns. More sweet chilli sauce rounded off the dish. It was phenomenal and a real stand out dish-of-the-day.

Miend Pia Tu (??)

Miend Pia Tu ($15)

From the S & T special menu we had the Miend Pia Tu ($15) which was a traditional Thai dish. The bestie asked how to approach the platter of ingredients, the waitress telling us that we should treat everything as components of a wrap. Each of us grabbed a broad piece of lettuce, piling it with thai spaghetti (or as we call it, noodles), red onion, peanuts and fish. I’m not great at eating fish off the bone – mum often deep fries her fish in the same manner as the Miend Pia Tu, but I’ve had a long standing phobia that I will die with something sharp stuck in my throat, exacerbated by the fact that I’m well aware of how delicate our swallowing mechanism is as a Speechie. The bestie was kind enough to flesh out a few portions for me to put into my wrap and I topped it with a bit of the sweet and sour dressing off to the side. There were also snips of garlic and fresh chilli for those who enjoy it, but I gave both a miss whilst the bestie downed it.

Papaya Salad with Crab ($12.90)

Papaya Salad with Crab ($12.90)

The papaya salad with salted raw swimmer crab ($12.90) had strips of green papaya based in a sweet and sour dressing. Also included were halves of tomatoes, green beans and the raw swimmer crab. I had never tried raw crab before, so I was intrigued by the experience – the glistening, translucent flesh was still infused with the subtle saltiness of the sea. It was at this point that I was really getting into the crunch and chew of the papaya so I started consuming it rapidly, only to sudden realise that something bad was happening. I had bitten on, vigorously chewed and half swallowed a green chilli. Immediately, I could feel a searing burning sensation alongside the back of my tongue. As someone who can’t even take the mild spiced chicken on the Nando’s spectrum, fear seared through my mind. I was going to die of heat overdose!

I turned to have long, strong swallow of my iced tea to calm down the palate (by this point my face and beyond was reaching boiling point) only to realise, to my horror, that I had consumed all of my iced tea. The bestie leapt into action, smashing out the “water” button on the little intercom pad next to our table number. A carafe was popped on the table and I drank to my heart’s content, however I still felt like I needed fire emergency services to enter my mouth and evacuate the remaining surviving taste buds. I stuffed the rest of the Thai Spaghetti into my mouth (I had vivid memories of my mother saying that rice often would cure the burn of chilli) which semi-sated the quench of fire. Whew. What a fiasco.

Coconut Ice cream with sweet sticky rice ($5)

Coconut Ice cream with sweet sticky rice ($5)

After the bestie had a belly laugh at my pitiful reaction, we settled on a dessert special, the coconut ice cream with sweet sticky rice ($5). A few strips of anemic mango sat on top, along with a splash of syrup and a few peanuts. It was a rather bland looking dessert, but what it lacked in appearance was made up for in taste. I really liked the coconut ice cream – it was particularly icy, with a consistency closer to a sorbet than an ice cream and had a beautiful fragrance about it. The sticky, glutinous rice at the bottom was the best – a little warm and not too sweet.

The making of crispy crepes!

The making of crispy crepes!

The service was very quick, assisted by the intercom at the side of our table number that had been labeled “bill,” “water,” and “waiter.” I jokingly said that it reminded me a bit of the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire lifelines – the “waiter” button was our “phone a friend” option (rather handy when we didn’t know exactly how to eat the Miend Pia Tu or wanted our dishes cleared away in prep for dessert), with the water button literally saving me from rolling on the floor in abject pain from the chilli.

Making of crispy crepes

Making of crispy crepes

The finished product!

The finished product!

Positives about S & T Thai Gourmet included clean, delicious food that was a great insight into traditional Thai food. It was an enjoyable dining experience that allowed me to venture out of my normal comfort zone and on top of that it was a relatively cheap meal, $49.80 for the both of us! The sheer number of dishes on offer provided great variety, sure to please any one looking for a feed in the China Town section of William Street. Best of all was the small cooking demonstration going on at the front of the store – freshly made crispy crepes at $6 a box were on sale, but the bestie and I passed as we were so full to the brim of food.  Overall I had a great time at S & T Thai Gourmet Café and would happily return!

Rating: 7 out of 10.
★★★★★★★☆☆☆

 Address: 349 William Street, Northbridge 6000

S & T Thai Gourmet Cafe on Urbanspoon

Bites:

  • Open for lunch and dinner every day of the week (from 11am to 9pm daily).
  • Take away and additional baked desserts are available at the front counter!
  • Daily specials optional for around $10-$15 per dish.
  • Reservations can be made via phone (contact: 9328 8877).

- L.

Chuffed with Cheese!

The Cheese Barrel, Swan Valley

Finding a place to eat on Mother’s Day is a pretty stressful experience. A Perth Now article calculated that on average, Perthians would spend an average of $67.10 on Mother’s Day (wow!) including money spent on presents and dining out. Consequently, I thought that for this year, instead of splurging out on food, we would spend the majority of my sister and I’s collected budget on presents and go for the home cooked meal this time around. Instead of dining out for the typical morning brunch, we decided to try out some afternoon tea in Swan Valley.

Welcome to the Cheese Barrel!

Welcome to the Cheese Barrel!

The Cheese Barrel is one of my all time favourite places – it’s in a beautiful location hidden away in Swan Valley, and my go-to destination when taking overseas or interstate relatives out and about in Western Australia. I had discovered this gorgeous gem last year in winter and had taken my parents there. They were immediately smitten by its modern interior and a very Margaret River-esque elegance. In addition to its glass, sleek timber and steel sophistication, it is also very family friendly – a section of the menu is dedicated to the kiddies and there are two broad sandpits on the lower level to build sandcastles or for them to throw sand at each other (which my little cousin and brother proceeded to do, when specifically told NOT to).

Surrounded by greenery!

Surrounded by greenery!

There are no free tastings at The Cheese Barrel, so we were quick to get our own brown paper menus with our wine and tasting plate options. While I waited in line, I observed the different merchandise on offer and the large glass cabinet next to the register, which held an abundance of difference cheeses for purchase, as well as some sweet treats.

Welcome all!

Welcome all!

While I waited to place our order, my mum and dad chose a seat at a table on the balcony, overlooking the vast greenery. After several days of rain, we were lucky enough to score a sunny day for this particular Sunday. The sunlight filtered in, warming up what could have been a very chilly day. The Cheese Barrel overlooks the Susannah Brook, which was partially hidden by the vast number of trees in the area. Nature in all its glory!

Menu time!

Menu time!

Unbeknownst to me, I had grabbed a “reserved” table, but the lady at the counter was quick to fix us up another table. I apologized quickly, but she was happy enough to clear the table and we sat ourselves down, still with a wonderful view overlooking the vast greenery. We were pre-warned that there would be about a 30 minute wait as the place was packed for Mother’s Day – understandable, as there also happened to be cheese making classes going on at the same time!

We were partially sheltered from the impending rain by the overhead sails, my family loving the ambience of The Cheese Barrel. The tables of The Cheese Barrel were consistent with the “winery” theme – many of them were actually tall wooden wine barrels, reachable by high steel stools. It was warmly lit, giving it the allusion of a modern wine cellar.

Strawberry milkshakes ($5 each)

Strawberry milkshakes ($5 each)

My brother and my cousin stared intently at the blackboard that listed the drinks menu. After getting in everyone’s way, they finally ordered a strawberry milkshake ($5) waving away offers of a chocolate one instead. The best thing about the milkshakes were that they didn’t use any artificial colours and flavourings in their drinks, which can be branded by an insipid slurry of strawberry syrup. The Cheese Barrel’s version had strawberry jam slicked along the sides, which I proceeded to scrape down and mix for my youngest cousin. My mum also commented that it was lovely and fluffy, topped with an abundance of bubbles, signifying that it had been well shaken. I had a quick sip – delicious, fruity, but not too sweet!

Latte ($4)

Latte ($4) touched up by my brother…

My dad ordered a latte ($4) that just missed the mark on having a consistent run of even, velvety milk. Despite this, there was a brave attempt at latte art and the coffee was rich and strong, perfect for my father’s palate. My mum had a chamomile tea ($3.80) that came out in a standard china pot, a teacup off to the side. Nice and hot with a perfumed herbal essence.

Hot chocolate ($5)

Hot chocolate ($5)

My hot chocolate ($5) was hands-down one of the best hot chocolates I have ever had. The froth was smooth, the milk steamed to a silky consistency. The hot drink was underscored with dark chocolate, a subtle cocoa bitterness singing through every sip – none of this sickening artificial power saccharinity in this hot chocolate. I was wow-ed.

Chamomile tea ($4)

Chamomile tea ($4)

Then there was the wait. A big 40-minute gap in between finishing our drinks and receiving the rest of food, that seemed to drag on forever. I kept myself entertained chatting to my parents, helping ourselves to glasses of water, taking photos and peeking down at the kids who had succumbed, yet again, to the flurry of sand downstairs. My parents on the other hand felt the wait, not used to waiting long periods of time for food (they are used to their dim sum efficiency). As I had ordered two tarts from the glass counter, we figured it would have been nice if they had come out just after our drinks, so we would have something to nibble on as we waited for our cheese platter. Alas, this was not the case.

During the wait…

During the wait…

A man popped over to our table to check which “premium” tart we had ordered. I told him we had ordered the raspberry tart, which he came back with about 5 minutes later along with our other tart. By then, the children were starving as well and were ready to tackle it, but I waved their hands away, proclaiming they had to “share.”

French raspberry tart ($6.50)

French raspberry tart ($6.50)

Our premium French raspberry tart ($6.50) was heavenly. It had a buttery, crumbly case with the fluted edges glazed. The raspberries were ridiculously fresh, a layer of glistening, ruby red orbs. Often you can get raspberries in tarts that are pummeled to a paste, but luckily these had not received the same brutal treatment. They were juicy with a slight acidity, a delightful combination, with the fresh crème placed in a small dish near the dessert. I would return just for this tart.

Lemon tart ($6)

Lemon tart ($6)

The second tart was the lemon tart ($6) that also came with fresh crème. My mother specially requested the tart, preferring to have dessert that wasn’t consistently sweet. The lemon tart came up trumps, not too sugary with a citrus-y sourness to the lemon curd. She thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the compact layer of lemon curd that had been baked in the case. I was extremely tempted to purchase another chocolate tart and a blueberry one which graced the glass cabinet, but I resisted the lure of the desserts.

French Regional Board ($41.50)

French Regional Board ($41.50)

We had ordered the French regional board ($41.50) that included four cheeses and was served with baguette slices, lavosh, pan de higo and seasonal fruit. I had also ordered an additional side of smoked chicken ($3.50) to up the substantiality of the cheese platter. It also came with a laminated sheet outlining the characteristics and location of each of the cheeses, as well as information on appropriate wine matches.

Cheeses on offer in the glass cabinet

Cheeses on offer in the glass cabinet

The first of the four cheeses included the Labuche d’Affinois, a soft white mould made from cow’s milk. It had a beautiful creamy texture, drawing parallels to a silky brie. It had a slight buttery taste, and was a little sweeter than your traditional cheeses. The Rouzaire Camembert was also a soft white mould, sourced from cow’s milk. The description listed as having a smooth, creamy texture that had a mild, earthy flavour with hints of cauliflower, which I could really pick up on. It was one of my favourites on the dish.

Table 25 represent!

Table 25 represent!

The Marcel Petite Comté was a hard cooked cheese, also made from cow’s milk. It was more firmer than the previous cheese with an almost Cheddar-like taste to it. The Marchel Petite Comté was denser, with a sharp and nutty tang. I cut it into batons and served it with the lavosh and chicken, which worked a treat together. The fourme d’Ambert was a blue mould. Not being a particular fan of blue cheese, I left it to my own parent’s devices – my mum commented that it certainty was an acquired taste. The blue cheese was reported to have a strong hit of salt and was crumbly in texture, tasting best when combined with the borsch pear. Dad mentioned that blue cheese was sometimes manufactured by passing an electrified copper wire through the cheese itself – I didn’t know that he was such a cheese connoisseur! I adore it when your parents pleasantly surprise you.

Out and about in the vineyards

Out and about in the vineyards

We all loved the Pan de Higo, a dense block of pounded dried fig, specked with sesame, anise seeds and chunks of almond. It was sweet and jammy, a lovely addition to the platter. The lavosh was all snap and crunch, beautiful light crackers to compliment the cheese. My brother kept on picking off the baguette slices, which were lightly baked and fluffy inside. The smoked chicken was smooth, not overdone and succulent. Altogether, it was enough to fill up the five of us.

Olive Farm Wines out back!

Olive Farm Wines out back!

My only complaint that day would be the timing in-between our ordered items. Our cheese board came out at the same time as the tarts, though to be fair, they were completely loaded with customers that day. Despite this, the Cheese Barrel do fantastic drinks and desserts, which is well worth visiting for. Cheese platters are an unconventional afternoon tea treat, however perfect for the refined wine scene in the area. They are rather steep in price however, so unless you’re a big cheese fan, or wishing to take the relatives out for something special, be prepared to fork out a bit (or DIY yourself at home)!

Blue skies and cheese!

Blue skies and cheese!

As a whole, I think The Cheese Barrel is a brilliant and cultured experience in a beautiful environment. It embraces a wonderful atmosphere, filled with chatter from the wine enthusiasts and the dabbling tourists of Swan Valley. Better yet, next door are the Olive Farm Wines, where there are also wine and olive oil tastings on offer. It’s a bit of drive from the CBD, but is definitely worth a visit!

Rating: 7 out of 10.
★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Address: 920 Great Northern Hwy, Millendon WA 6056
Website: http://www.thecheesebarrel.com.au/

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The Cheese Barrel on Urbanspoon

Bites:

  • The Cheese Barrel is open from 7 days a week (Monday to Tuesday from 11am to 5pm; Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm).
  • For the “cheese nerds” out there, you can also divvy up a “Do-It-Yourself” Cheese Platter! Cheese portions are cut into multiples of 50 grams and can come with wine matching, charged per person.
  • The Cheese Barrel supports local producers and suppliers that include Five Senses Coffee, Bannister Downs Milk, Sebastian Butchers, Maggie’s Place, Gabriel Chocolate, Jean Pierre Sancho and Eustralis.
  • Evening functions catering for 30+ people are also available.
  • Reservations available via phone (contact: 9296 4539). Bookings for 8+ people are essential.

- L.

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