20 November 2008

Koinonia

Koinonia: the name conjures up images of palm trees, oases, dusky Arabian wenches and fan-waving eunuchs. (Well, for us it does anyway.)

The reality, at least from the outside, appears a little different: Koinonia looks from the street to be a lunch-bar type, set back off the street and up a couple of steps. It is housed in the uninspired cream-bricked and new-ish building that Balshaw’s Florist is also located in. We’ve always assumed that the folk at Balshaw’s designed that building, as it is about as unattractive as that ridiculous van they drive around in with the giant rose in a plastic coffin on top of it. Anyway, do not be deceived by the building: once inside, Koinonia (which incidentally means “murder-inducing elevator music” in Esperanto) is a warm, inviting place, made all the more so by the immediate attention given us by the hostess and the leather booth-like couches around which the BSBers immediately splayed themselves.

As if this was not congenial enough, the mural on the wall expounded the benefits of “fellowship”, “virtue” and “loving thy neighbour” (or something like that – the BSBers ignored these sentiments completely and engaged in their usual infantile squabbling over the menu.)

This evening, the BSBers were joined by their travelling English friend, The Pikey. Being of Cockney extraction, there is little that the Pikey could not tell you about the potato chip, chicken tikka masala or soggy Pret tuna-and-sweetcorn sambos. How would she cope though with the fusion-style array of spices from the Orient? For Koinonia (formerly “Infusion” further south on Beaufort) offers the full gamut of Asia-wide generic dishes.

Starters were plentiful, prompt and very tasty. Duck pancakes were suitably moist (take heed, Red Teapot), san choy bow of the perfect consistency, satay sticks a delight. Even better, the menu stated that each of the starters came in 4 pieces, which was of a huge concern to the Pikey as there was no way we were going to share with her, but when the kind waitress saw the pain on the Pikey’s face, she quickly reassured us that they would be happy to make them 5 pieces each. And we didn’t seem to be charged for the extra either.

Mains continued in the same vein: chicken curry tantalised the taste-buds (although BOOTO suggested the meat was a little dry), the garlic lamb was a revelation, the squid and prawns an oral celebration, all washed down with a pad thai, a crash-helmet sized tub of fried rice and 14 litres of cleanskin sparkling shiraz (the BSBers’ cheap plonk of choice).

Our hostess was particularly generous, and seemed to be always at hand and directing staff to indulge our every (culinary) whim. She even gave us champagne glasses, which is a rare treat for a BYO restaurant.

In summary:

Service: Very friendly (without being intrusive), polite and ever-present. Very quick on the drinks.

Food: Very, very good pan-Asian.

Ambience: Surprisingly chic inside, with an extended balcony overlooking the Scotto.

Highlight: The expression on the Pikey’s face as her taste-buds were awakened after decades of culinary neglect.

Lowlight: The piped Muzak. (Although this may have been deliberate – very reminiscent of a Hong Kong taxi.)

Rating: 4.5 Hello Kitty’s out of 5.

Will we be back: Definitely – undoubtedly the pick of the bunch for Asian delights thus far.

Details: Koinonia is a couple of doors down from Monte Fiore. The bill came to about $50 a head for (far too many) mains, starters and corkage. Booking is advised, particularly on warm evenings.

Be aware: Koinonia is not licensed (although permits BYO beer and wine). Also, the Liquor Barons at the Beaucott corner closes at the ridiculously arbitrary time of 8:45, meaning that the Sponge had to walk 6 minutes to the Queens to collect booze. This resulted in a lot of self-indulgent whinging from the Sponge and general disharmony at the table. You have been warned.


Koinonia on Urbanspoon

04 November 2008

The Flying Scotsman

With BOOTO and Stinks on a promotional tour of Victoria (leaving the Sponge trying in vain to remember what he used to do when a bachelor), it was decided to take guests for our next blog: the Pakistani Prince and the South Sea Island Princess* gratefully accepted the Bloggers’ invitation to join them for an evening of lager and pub grub at the Flying Scotsman.

(* Note: not real royalty.)

We had no expectations as to quality of the food at the Scotto – each of the Bloggers had been there from time to time for a quiet (or loud) drink, but never to eat. All recent reviews we could find appeared to be of the whiny variety, focusing on how much character and ambience the place had lost since its upgrade and how it would never be the same. (Apparently someone had neglected to pass this on to the punters though, who were there in droves.)

A table was booked (which we found to be essential if intending to eat), and was promptly and graciously reconfigured at least 3 times by the friendly staff as they tried to find the best way to seat 5 people. The Scotto is a bit like the scruffy, charismatic cousin of the Queens and (being what we understand to be the only viable drinking alternative up this end of Beaufort) was packed, while still maintaining a friendly and informal atmosphere.

Starters (ordered from the bar) arrived promptly and were unexpectedly brilliant: a platter consisting of a generous spread of such delights as octopus, ribs, chicken wings and some of the best and most tender squid any of the Bloggers (or their royal companions) had eaten for some time. This was accompanied by a dish that made the Deliberator curl into a foetal ball: pouteen. Pouteen is simply chips, melted cheese and gravy. Once combined however, they transform into a manna-like concoction that would make a grown man (in this case, the Deliberator) weep.

Mains were again impressive: the Brains’ Fat Bastard Pizza lived up to its name, parmagiana was bloody good (and enormous), the Deliberator’s ribs (washed down with a second bowl of pouteen) did the trick and the South Sea Island Princess’ salad was tasty and lovingly crafted. Unfortunately, so too was the Pakistani Prince’s. The Bloggers are collectively still stunned and slightly hurt at the Prince’s decision to order a salad at a pub, and will no longer mention his name on this blog. He is dead to us.

Service was attentive, speedy… and knowledgeable – our waitress chimed into our heated debate to confirm that the minimum contingent for a gang-bang was indeed 5 people. Debate concluded. (Incidentally, and while we had already established that 3 people formed a threesome, we are still in the dark as to the correct term for a beast with four backs. Suggestions welcome.)

In summary:

Service: Great, with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the karma sutra.

Food: A couple of cuts above what we anticipated. Sorry, Scotto.

Ambience: Lively, informal and eclectic. The Brisbane it ain’t.

Highlight: The squid. And the Deliberator’s vow to plant a pouteen tree in his backyard.

Lowlight: Maybe slightly cramped and noisy for dinner. (But hell – it’s a pub.)

Rating: 3.9 pouteen trees out of 5.

Will we be back: Yes, either to eat, drink or both. (Not just for the fact that we note that the bloody upstairs balcony is finally completed!)

Details: The Flying Scotsman is just down from the Walcott/Beaufort St intersection. The bill came to about $50 a head for mains and a shared starter (and drinks. Lots of drinks.) Kitchen closes at (we think?) 9pm, although pizzas are available later than this.

Coming up: Alright Diva – your turn next so we can finally tie up everything north of Walcott.


Flying Scotsman on Urbanspoon

24 October 2008

Monte Fiore Cafe Restauant

Monte Fiore is terrible. Really terrible. Everything about it is so bad, from the acronym, which is used liberally throughout the menu (we’ll have an MF salad and an MF side of chips please), from the terrible oily smell in the restaurant that seems to have seeped into everything, to the bland 1990s décor to the uninspiring chap who runs the front of house.

Luckily, it was a stinking hot night when the Bloggers decided to take the M-Fing challenge, so we were able to sit outside and watch people eat decent food at the Flying Scotsman. Which was quite pleasant really, especially after we smelt that weird, old oil smell that would leave you gasping for fresh air if you spent more than 10 minutes in it. Also, if we had sat in the tired, outdated surroundings we would not have been able to hide all of our bottles of wine quite so easily.

It’s a M-Fing funny place Monte Fiore. It seems to be very popular, and on the Thursday night we visited it was probably at 70% capacity, which is not bad because it’s a pretty big space. We discussed the reason for its popularity among ourselves and Booto quite correctly pointed out that it looked like a place where people who met on RSVP.com might have had a first date. It’s safe, it’s inoffensive, it’s well known and it’s bland. Perfect.

To the food. We had to try the standard tasting platter and a serve of garlic bread. The platter was bizarre, though not necessarily in a bad way. It consisted of a pizza base brushed with oil and garlic and sprinkled with herbs, and on top of the base there were your bog standard kalamata olives, grilled chorizo and fetta. The ingredients, other than the fetta, were fine. The fetta was revolting, and looked, felt and tasted more like tofu than fetta. And, annoyingly, there were 3 bits of garlic bread for a party of 4. Can’t cafés count?

Booto had a delicious Moroccan lamb salad for her main. The lamb was outstanding, well cooked with plenty of spice, and the salad was super fresh. The joy ended there though. The Brains’ Gamberi (Neapolitan pasta with prawns) was woeful. It seemed to be badly cooked packet spaghetti mixed with tomato sauce (as in ketchup, not Neapolitan sauce) with a generous number of shrivelled up cheap tasting prawns. The Sponge opted for his old favourite veal parma, and it was described as mystery meat with tomato sauce. The Deliberator’s giant pork ribs were tasteless, meatless and not at all giant. And, the bowl of ‘thick cut chips’ for the table turned out to be a bowl of frozen McCains wedges (wedges? cafés still serve wedges? what is this, 1995?) served with a minimum of flair. Overall, outstandingly disappointing.

We were left wondering what the M-Fing place could do properly. We didn’t stick around for dessert to find out.

The service was a mix. Our po-faced chap we mentioned earlier attended to us with very little charisma or affability. The lovely, bubbly blonde-haired waitress who served our meals was a dream, but once our plates were in front of us she never came back. No parmesan cheese, no cracked pepper and no ‘can I get you anything else’. We were abandoned on the side of the road with our rubbish food, empty bottles and slowly warming wine.

All in all, don’t bother with those M-Fers, head across the road to the Scotsman instead.

In summary:

Service: Variable.

Food: Heinz does a better spaghetti and it’s only a couple of bucks.

Ambience: Outside is lovely, but that was courtesy of the steamy Perth night and the action on Beaufort Street. Inside looks like a 1990s telemovie.

Highlight
: The Moroccan lamb salad and the sweltering heat.

Lowlight: Food you might find in a school cafeteria.

Rating: 2 McCains wedges out of 5.

Will we be back: No. And we hope you won’t be either until these guys lift their game, update their menu, sack their chef and redecorate their restaurant.

Details
: Monte Fiore is licenced and BYO wine only at $5 per bottle. The bill came to $120 for a platter, 4 mains, GB and a bowl of chips. We checked out the wine list and surprise surprise, it’s boring as hell. All wines in the same price range $19 - $26 and all the usual suspects were there – wines like Goundrey and Madfish – ok, but so dull.

Coming up: We’re really struggling to get to Diva, so we’ll try and get there next week.


Monte Fiore Cafe on Urbanspoon

30 September 2008

Da Bruno's


Everything was going very well for the Bloggers last Wednesday. The Brains and the Deliberator successfully settled on their purchase of a new home, or rather, new mortgage, Booto was able to hand over a grumbling Stinky to Mother of Sponge for the evening, and The Sponge spent the day with a powerful thirst that needed to be quenched. So, what better time to finally circle back and make Thursday night ‘Da Bruno Night’.

While the Brains and the Deliberator drank champagne in their empty new house, the Sponge was charged with the task of buying suitable drinks for the evening. By suitable, we mean wine with labels, something that the Sponge has never been too keen on. He did a sterling job though, and showed some incredible insight when he suggested that 4 bottles might not be enough. The Brains scoffed at this suggestion, but relented and she and Booto packed a couple more bottles of wine from home in their handbags in case of emergency. The Sponge was on the money. The 5th and 6th bottles of wine were removed from the handbags within what seemed like minutes of arriving.

We arrived late, as usual, but this was absolutely no problem to the accommodating wait staff at Da Brunos. We were shown to a cosy table next set right next to a bronze, naked torso of a fit-looking fellow. The Sponge and The Deliberator were unimpressed, and disappointed that our table was not closer to the complementary female torso with the pleasing breasts.

Da Brunos has a blackboard menu only, which changes every day. Soon after arrival, our very knowledgeable waitress came to the table and explained the menu which left the Deliberator in a state of flummox and bamboozlement for the next 10 to 15 minutes. Decisions were eventually made.

We started by sharing an antipasto platter. Thrillingly, there was not a spot of chorizo on the platter (we love chorizo, but boy do we eat a lot of it). Instead, the beautifully presented plate was filled with gourmet bits of complex deliciousness like scallop salad and thinly sliced veal with a cream and caper sauce. The entrees were also a delight, al-dente home made ravioli stuffed with prawn and scallop with a saffran sauce, beautiful pieces of gnocchi in a heart-busting cheese sauce and Booto’s Carpaccio with a rocket and parmesan salad was divine.

The mains were a bit more difficult. The Deliberator’s view was that the selection was not quite as tempting as it had been on previous visits, and he has a point. On other occasions it has been almost impossible choosing one of the 5 things on offer. This time, we did struggle a little to choose something that really appealed. The Deliberator and The Sponge chose capretto, the Brains had steak, which was perfectly cooked and came with an excellent chicken parfait and Booto’s duck in marsala sauce was excellent. Each of the dishes came with mashed potato, slightly overcooked snow peas and tomato. The mains were really very good, but for the price (the duck was the cheapest dish at $44) we were not blown away. We thought the sides could have been a bit more considered, and while a lot more effort and detail was put into the mash than the mash your mother used to make, it was still mash.

For dessert, The Brains and The Deliberator both had a crème brulee which perfectly crispy on the outside and super creamy on the inside. The Deliberator, treating dessert like breakfast, asked for a side of semifreddo and his wish was granted without a problem. The Sponge’s cheese plate had a great combination of blue, brie and reggiano cheeses. Booto was less excited about her semifreddo.

After 4 courses, nearly 6 bottles of wine and a few coffees, we were suitably stuffed.

There was one niggling issue we had throughout the evening, and that was with the bathrooms. The toilets are horrifically outdated, and while clean, for a swanky restaurant with swanky prices, getting rid of the 70s tiling in the dunnies would be really appreciated (and in case you were wondering, the tiles aren’t cool in a retro way, they’re just plain ugly). But that’s not the problem, the problem was that by Booto and The Brains’ second (and final) trip to the loo, there was no loo paper left. To continually check on the status of bog roll is a very easy and a terribly important job that someone should be responsible for. If our local Thai takeaway joint can get it right, Da Bruno’s sure can too.


In summary:

Service: Excellent. Both the people looking after us were very knowledgeable, very attentive and pretty damn groovy to boot.

Food: There’s no doubt that Bruno is a bloody fine chef, but we thought the mains menu was not particularly imaginative when compared with previous visits. However, everything else was exceptional, particularly the pastas – easily the best pasta in Perth.

Ambience: We love a restaurant that exists in a house, it makes for a cosy, fun and personal atmosphere. The décor is tasteful and not at all bland - there’s plenty to look at without it being over the top. The front alfresco area is fabulous also, sitting in the Mediterranean styled courtyard on a balmy summer’s night would be unbeatable.

Highlight: The ravioli and the porn statues.

Lowlight: $110 per person. Without drinks, or even sparkling water. That’s pretty pricey in anyone’s book. And the lack of loo paper.

Rating: 3.8 milk fed baby goats out of 5.

Will we be back: Yes, for sure. It’s a great place for a special occasion. And while it was not perfect this visit, it has been much closer to perfect in previous visits.

Details: Da Brunos is easy to miss – if you’re heading north on Beaufort and you get to Charco’s, you’ve gone too far. It's at 965a Beaufort. The restaurant is unlicensed which we love. As mentioned earlier, the bill came to about $110 per head.

Coming up: We are so close to finishing off the section north of Walcott – we just need to get through Chicken Treat, Globe and Diva Café before adventuring south of Walcott. Who would have thought there were so many restaurants on Beaufort Street? We’ve been at this for 9 months and still haven’t made it to the heart of the strip.



Da Bruno's on Urbanspoon

23 September 2008

Mt Lawley Fish and Chips

It being too late to eat out (due to the incompatability of Stinky’s sleep patterns with the Deliberator’s perpetual fannying about), the Bloggers found themselves housebound and feeling too healthy. The Sponge was complaining that his arteries felt too soft, Booto that her cholesterol was alarmingly low, the Brains that the kilos were simply dropping off her and the Deliberato .. well, he was just generally complaining about his lot in life. Some form of action was required – some call to arms to alleviate this disgusting feeling of fitness and well-being. Like Han Solo taking out Darth’s tie fighter, it was Mt Lawley Fish and Chips to the rescue.

We weren’t really sure what to expect from this establishment: Where was it? And what did they sell? And accompany it with?

All was revealed by our phone conversation with the very helpful proprietor. It’s a fish’n’chipper. In Mt Lawley. Selling the basics together with all manner of fried acountrements that one might expect from its ilk. With this in mind, we ordered the following:

4 x f’n’c (2 grilled, 2 fried)
2 chiko rolls
2 crab sticks
2 serves squid rings
1 crumbed sausage

The Deliberator, completely off his own bat and without a single complaint, offered to collect this feast (passing a flying pig on the way).

And here lies the Bloggers’ major issue: as instructed, the Deliberator arrived at the shop precisely 20 minutes after the order had been placed. And proceeded to wait there for an additional 40 minutes while the order was made ready. The problem lay not with the delay per se, but the misinformation: had we (well, the Deliberator – the rest of the bloggers were p*ssing it up at home) been accurately informed as to the preparation of our battered treasure trove, he could have whiled away the time on the couch. Instead he was made to pass that time alone in the car, phoning the rest of the bloggers every 4 minutes to remind them of the suffering he was going through and his imminent beatification.

Taking into account the fact that Mt L F’n’C does not pretend to be anything other than what it is, the food wasn’t bad. Not brilliant, but passable. Grilled fish and salad (for the ladies) was light and tasty (although they were ridiculously heavy handed with the iceberg), fish fairly well battered, squid rings did the trick and the crab sticks and chiko rolls were suitably greasy and disgusting.

In summary:

Service: Polite enough on the phone. Possibly trapped in an alternate time continuum though.

Food: Not worth driving across town for, but an OK local.

Ambience: With its chocolate walls, dazzling light feature and slick modern art, the restaurant is subtle and sophisticated, like the man himself. Crisp white linen laid tables and highly polished silverware provide an excellent canvas for the chef to reveal his artistic flair and innovativeness. The colour presents itself upon the plate of each diner, with meals being skillfully delivered by waiting staff clad in white gloves and silver grey monogrammed uniforms. The ambience of the restaurant, not unlike the warm shadows created from the slowly flickering glow of the table lamps, seeks to provide a comfortable and inviting haven for the patron to enjoy as they await the amazing creations that arrive before them. (Only joking – it’s just your standard fish’n’chipper.)

Highlight: The Sponge’s reintroduction to the chiko roll. (Tuesday night $6.90 fish and chips is not to be sniffed at either.)

Lowlight: The rest of the Bloggers having to put up with the Deliberator’s hysterical whining.

Rating: 2.9 battered savs out of 5.

Will we be back: Not unless our car breaks down out the front.

Details: Shop 7, 776 Beaufort St (next to Thai Orchid and Third Avenue). (Consume at least two additional beers before collecting order.)
NOTE: The Deliberator, having just proofed this entry, wishes to add some further comments, which are repeated verbatim below:
'Happy with the review with two exceptions:

1. not enough emphasis on the wait. Beaufort Street proprietors should be forewarned; and

2. 2.9 battered savs is an indictment to the battered Sav. Max of two battered Savs only. Beaufort Street Bloggers should not give battered Savs out willy nilly.'
Consider yourselves told.

02 September 2008

Cantina 663

For people who even have the vaguest of interests in new restaurants, shops, pubs or cafes that pop up in Perth, Cantina 663 needs no introduction. The lead up to its opening was splashed across STM like a 16 year old Perth model who is tipped to be ‘the next big thing’ in Milan. And no wonder, the guys running the ship have had success in some of Perth’s favourite ventures, like the wonderful Harvest in North Fremantle and the luxurious Mariposa store in Mount Lawley. This was enough for STM to refer to the fellas in their ‘Perth Confidential’ section every other week (to date, we think only Melanie Greensmith and Megan Gale have had more mentions).

So, after a series of reasonably uninspiring restaurant experiences along Beaufort Street, we were looking forward to something different, something a little controversial (as we have heard both positive and negative reviews) and something that we were pretty confident would be up our alley.

The Brains and The Deliberator’s old neighbours (‘old’ in the sense that are no longer their neighbours, and that they are both pretty old) joined the bloggers for an evening of even more wine than usual, and some conversation that made WA politics’ chair sniffing incident seem reasonably innocent. We’ll call them Fat Bastard and Double Skulls.

The Sponge, Booto and Stinky arrived first and requested a table for 6 (Cantina does not take bookings). The only 6 seater table was being occupied by a couple, while several 2 seaters remained empty. A confrontation was required. Our waiter professionally and elegantly dealt with the situation by asking the couple if they wouldn’t mind moving (they had not started eating yet) but it turned out they did mind. Firm, but polite, words were had and they eventually moved onto a smaller table. With much gratitude, the Stinky family secured a high table and 6 stools at the entrance of the restaurant. The table was in the Astor Arcade itself, so while we had a sense that we were eating alfresco, the heater and the protection of the arcade meant we were toasty warm. (Incidentally, the high table is great for families with babies – we were able to park young Stinky right next to us and easily peer down at him at regular intervals, without the pram getting knocked or bumped).

The Deliberator, the Brains, Fat Bastard and Double Skulls soon rolled in, already warm and loud from Thursday evening pre-dinner drinking. The wine list was quickly requested. We ordered an excellent bottle of pino gris and litre of red from the Swan Valley. The fact that you could buy a carafe of well-priced and very drinkable wine was something we took a huge amount of delight in. Especially when we were given stemless Reidel glasses from which to drink from. The novelty was so great that the white was soon dismissed as more and more carafes of wine were required. Drinking from a carafe gave us such a southern-Italian holiday feeling that we quickly forgot we had work tomorrow and smashed our way through several litres of this holiday happiness during the course of the night.

Finally we took a look at the menu. Half of the menu changes each week, so while it’s short you can be sure you’ll find something different on it. The menu is very well priced for the quality of the food and the location of the eatery – entrees between $14 and $16, and mains between $24 and $32 (the $32 item being the steak, most other things were considerably cheaper). The entrees are designed to be shared, so we ordered one of each offering – grilled chorizo, olives and bread; marinated garfish with blood orange fennel salad; roast potato, spiced carrot and onion salad; and beef cheek with baguette. Each was outstanding. The delicate flavour of the garfish was a nice contrast to the strong flavours of blood orange and fennel, the chorizo (which seems to fast becoming the yard stick the bloggers use to rate restaurants) was smoky flavoured and chilli-hot and we can’t even talk about the beef cheek without dribbling over the keyboard.

After such a successful entrée, we simply had to order a congratulatory litre of wine.

Our mains arrived. Booto and the Deliberator went the slow cooked lamb neck with capsicum and polenta. The meat was strongly flavoured and fell apart with the touch of a fork. The polenta was soft and creamy. Fat Bastard and the Sponge raved about their roasted free range chicken leg and lentils, beans and pork belly. And who wouldn’t, that sounds like the finest combination of foods man can prepare. The Brains and Double Skulls enjoyed the home made pappardelle with prosciutto, courgettes and ricotta stuffed blossoms. The pasta perfectly al dente, the proscuitto uncooked and plentiful and the ricotta blossoms so ridiculously delicious and Italian it further added to our holiday-feel.

A celebratory litre of wine was ordered and quickly consumed through a number of toasts (to the food! to the company! to Stinky! to that guy walking past in the red jumper! to Phil Matera trying but not being able to get a table!).

Our delightful and patient waiter (and part owner) Alex was insistent that we try the last remaining slice of lemon tart. We were grateful for the recommendation, and ordered the lemon tart and then a slice of everything that was left in the dessert fridge. A wonderful array of cakes and pies were presented to us that we enthusiastically shared. Each one was better than the next, and like the main menu, the desserts are ever-changing.

The evening was drawing to an end, but there was of course room for a few coffees and one more litre of wine.

When the time came to settle the bill, not just the restaurant but the entire Beaufort Strip precinct was completely empty. We had been sitting at our marble table for hours. We had no idea it was close to midnight as there was absolutely no hurry-along from the staff. Another massive tick to Cantina 663.

In summary

Service: Very professional, friendly, good humoured, patient and most knowledgeable.

Food: Outstanding all round.

Ambience: A relaxed European feeling with a funky vibe.

Highlight: Being able to buy wine by the litre.

Lowlight: The conversation.

Rating: 4.8 hangovers out of 5.

Will we be back: As soon as possible.

Details: While we thought the prices were very reasonable, the bill did come to around $75 a head. But when you consider that we practically had every item on the menu, and we drank nearly 5 litres of wine, this was pretty good value. Cantina does not take bookings and offers wines in a range of prices. We did not make enquiries about corkage, but you really needn’t bother taking your own.



Cantina 663 on Urbanspoon

28 August 2008

Seven Seas Bar & Restaurant


With the timely arrival of the Mother of Booto from interstate and with it, the much anticipated arrival of a live in babysitter for Stinky, the Bloggers thought it an opportune time to circle back and tick off Da Bruno's from the 2008 Beaufort Street Challenge. As you can imagine, Booto immediately commenced salivating at the mere thought of the vast array of wine that awaited her. Alas, it was not to be. Despite our burgeoning reputation amongst establishments on the Beaufort Street strip, we were unable to secure a Saturday night booking (the Brains showed great restraint in not screaming "Do you know who I am??" down the phone line) and the Deliberator was otherwise engaged on the alternative Friday night.

With Booto desperate not to waste the services of a baby-starved grandmother who was more than happy to see the back of her daughter and enjoy a night of one on one with Stinky, the Bloggers shelved Da Bruno's for another week and returned to the next establishment on the challenge - Seven Seas.

After a quick glass of bubbles at the home of the Brains and the Deliberator, we arrived in good time for our 8.00pm booking. As we waited to be seated, the Brains and Booto duly noted the warm chocolate tones of the venue which was pretty much full - a good sign - and Brains congratulated herself for having made a booking earlier in the week to ensure a good table for the night ahead. Meanwhile, the Deliberator and the Sponge contented themselves with watching the big screen TV showing the Olympics - a bizarre aberration on an otherwise tastefully decorated interior.

Unfortunately, Seven Seas appeared to have lost our booking. Although to their credit, they did attempt to pretend they had not. However, a table directly in a thoroughfare and feeling the full brunt of the draught from the front door is always a dead giveaway!

Nothing could dampen the spirits of Booto however, who promptly called for the cocktail list and ordered her first Cosmopolitan post Stinky. The Sponge and Deliberator followed suit, whilst the Brains contented herself with a bottle of her trademark bubbles.

It was at this point, that it came to the attention of the Bloggers that they were not the only ones out for a big night at Seven Seas. The music was positively booming from the upstairs function room, making it hard to hear and overall, rather distracting. Surely, if you're going to have as function room above your restaurant, one would hope you'd go to the trouble of soundproofing. It seemed not.

However, despite the physical agony the Sponge was in (he's a massive Tom Petty fan and abhors all that "wretched doof doof noise"), the Bloggers focused on the task ahead....

In time honoured tradition, a couple of tasting plates were ordered. The usual foods were represented – including the ubiquitous fried chorizo and kalamata olives, several portions of arancini and some marinated octopus. It was all reasonably tasty but not particularly memorable.

The Sponge, Brains and Deliberator all ordered seafood platters for the main course, before Booto caved into the pressure to conform and thus made it a simple "2 x seafood platters for 2" for the Bloggers.

The "2 x seafood platters for 2" were served in good time which was just as well as the Deliberator was shivering in the draught and the Sponge had refrained from taking his jacket off.

Each platter was generous in size and included a generous mix of:

oysters kilpatrick - so drowned in bacon and worcestershire sauce, they resembled a parmagiana;

crumbed fish - to quote the Sponge: "unnecessary";

chips - always going to get a vote from the Deliberator on this one;

calamari - not melt in your mouth, but not too chewy either; and

whitebait – so crispy they were almost hollow.

Whilst the Bloggers would not rave about the quality of the fare offered, it must be said that Seven Seas do not skimp on quantity. Unfortunately, whilst the Sponge and Deliberator did their best and the Brains and Booto gave it their all, there was more than a little left over for "Mr Manners".

Despite being looked after by both a rather young waiter and a bizarrely dressed waitress (whose attempt at jazzing up her black uniform with some silver appliqué can only be described as plain scary), the Bloggers were duly attended, although all in all, it was hardly service to remember or indeed give much mention to on this blog. There were several instances where the bloggers were left waiting for wine, which was particularly irksome on a Saturday night when the general plan was to get as drunk as possible before midnight.

Despite feeling like falling asleep in our chairs, so full were our stomachs, the Bloggers soldiered on and called for the dessert menu. Whilst the Deliberator and Sponge opted for coffee and a licquer, the Brains and Booto dove right into the chocolate crème brulee and a chocolate sponge pudding. Booto’s brulee was quite delicious but the Brains’ sponge had a strangely familiar texture and taste – one that reminded her of those that came straight from a Betty Crocker packet.

Finally, with the Deliberator announcing he could take the cold draught no longer and the Brains and Booto having to deal with a rather rude punter on the table behind, the Bloggers departed Seven Seas with a rather indifferent feeling. Was it hideous - no. Was it great - equally no.

In summary:

Service: Average, but all the more interesting with the added sparkle to the waitress' uniform.

Food: Okay, but for a specialist seafood restaurant, with a name like Seven Seas, we do expect a little better than a pub standard seafood platter.

Ambience: Lose the party and the music resonating from upstairs and you might have something.

Highlight
: Booto's cosmopolitan, although after 9 months of abstinence, her judgement tends to lean to the generous side.

Lowlight: Toss up between the party upstairs and being seated at a draughty table.

Rating: 2.5 crumbed frozen fish out of 5

Will we be back: With the high standards set by other seafood restaurants in Perth, probably not.

Details: the bill was higher than expected, although this probably had something to do with the volume of alcohol that was ordered (cocktails were an outrageous $16.00 and a $28 bottle of Cloudy Bay Pelorus was $53). The food was priced as you would expect, about $82 for a seafood platter for 2. You can call them on 9370 3030, or visit their poorly designed website on www.thesevenseas.com.au.

07 August 2008

Tombstone Mexican Restaurant


While the title of this blog would indicate that it is about all things Beaufort Street (and, well, it is), we thought we would comment quickly on a little gem the BSBers stumbled across last week.

Tombstone on Walcott Street (which incidentally intersects Beaufort, lending a skerrick of legitimacy to this post) had been regularly carpet-bombing the area with pamphlets announcing their arrival and various specials. Booto, Stinky and the Sponge found themselves at a loose end last Thursday (having been passed over by the balance of the BSBers in favour of bridesmaid duties and general tooling around respectively) and accordingly decided to see what these paper-wasters were all about.

Tombstone is an eclectic place – set up in the former grand foyer of the Menora Theatre, it shares premises with a squash court (though you would be none the wiser for it until needing to use the loo). While ostensibly billing itself as Mexican, the interior is a garish mix of a dozen competing themes and styles, from Clint Eastwood posters to a large screen showing early-80s dance clips to 50s diner-type booths along the walls, all overhung with the ornate drapery and trimmings left over from its cinematic days.

Like the surrounds, the service was excellent because of, rather than in spite of, its unpolished edge. Staff and owner were very attentive – noticing the Sponge’s predilection for all things hopped and frothy, the owner made a point of offering him a particular new beer from the owner’s personal stash. He also very politely, but firmly, steered Booto away from the super-hot burrito sauce, a fact she was most thankful for as the "medium" proceeded to melt her fillings…

Which leads us to the food: Despite a Mexican theme running through the menu (with the standard burritos, enchiladas, nachos etc on offer), there are plenty more traditional meat and other options for those not willing to venture south of the border. Shared chilli con carne dip was very tasty, Booto’s beef burrito was tender and spicy, and the Sponge’s meal had to be seen to be believed: the $28 surf’n’turf steak procured a delightfully large and tender steak, a mound of garlic mussels, prawns and scallops, a log cabin of wedges and a side salad.

Stinky, sated with milk, slept through proceedings and only roused now and then to flatulate his approval.

In all, Tombstone is the ideal place to come for a cheap and casual meal with a bunch of friends intending to eat and drink the evening away.

In summary:

Service: Went above and beyond.

Food: Fantastic quality and value Mexican/steakhouse fare.

Ambience: Dizzying. Despite sitting there for 2 hours, we still can’t tell you.

Highlight: The surf’n’turf (seriously, has anyone ever seen scallops on a steak before?)

Lowlight: Not entirely sure what it wanted to be (not convinced this is necessarily a lowlight though)

Rating: 4.2 distended bellies out of 5.

Will we be back? Hell yes, with an appetite, a thirst and a table full of like-minded punters.

Details: Tombstone is at 344 Walcott St, and can be contacted on 9443 8888 or email at michaelriseley@hotmail.com. 2 (enormous) courses and 2-3 drinks each cost around $80 total. (We defy our readers to produce tales of better value!) Tombstone is fully licensed, and offers an array of dazzlingly cheap margaritas and assorted treats.

04 August 2008

Sunshine Lunch Bar Cafe


While the bloggers were unable to get out for their weekly dinner last week, The Deliberator and The Brains did have a Beaufort Street experience worth discussing. The Deliberator and The Brains had a meeting outside of the city / West Perth precinct they are usually confined to. This was fantastic news for them because sometimes they think that if they are forced to eat one more Croissant Express Frozwich (and the Brooklyn is usually the preferred choice) or one more large sushi roll mix they would simply collapse and die. An outside-of-the-CBD lunch (even though it would be had on the run) was just what they needed.

As both The Brains and the Deliberator are lawyers (we don’t think we’re giving too much away here), they were very familiar with the lunching options surrounding the section of Beaufort Street near Walcott Street. This is because in their first year of lawyering, all Perth lawyers need to attend an offsite course called ‘Articles Training Program’ which is located on Alvan Street in Mount Lawley, directly behind the set of shops around Diva Café. ATP is a godsend to most young lawyers – it starts at 9.00, finishes at 4.00 and has about 5 coffee/tea/smoko/lunch/rest breaks during the day. And it gives everyone a chance to eat an Antonio’s continental roll 4 or 5 times a week. However, it was not Antonio’s that The Deliberator and The Brains were after on this day, rather, it was the little-known (and not open on weekends), Sunshine Lunch Bar Café.

The Sunshine Lunch Bar Café is essentially a Vietnamese run sandwich bar. You can also get your usual lunch time staples there, like Mrs Macs pies and probably even Chicko Rolls. The sandwich section itself does not look like anything special, and really, the Sunshine Lunch Bar Café would not be out of place in Welshpool, Osborne Park or any other highly populated suburb that requires many corner lunch bars for workers. The difference between those lunch bars and the Sunshine Lunch Bar lies in Sunshine’s Vietnamese and Asian roll specialty.

The Hot Asian roll is one of the finest Perth sandwich experiences around – it consists of that type of a bread roll you would typically find at a Vietnamese bakery, 2 pork fillets, which are heated up in the sandwich maker (to give you a picture, the pork fillets are about the same size and shape as the chicken fillets you get from Subway), shaved carrot and cucumber, onion, chilli sauce, coriander and ‘special mayonnaise’. It sounds like a ridiculous combination but it is really quite wonderful. The Vietnamese Roll is similar, except it is not hot, the meat is less identifiable and it comes with what can only be described as Vietnamese pate.

If anyone has been to Vietnam they will have seen vendors make exactly these types of rolls on the street. They are called Banh Mi (or something), and look just like the one in the picture. On a trip to Saigon, The Brains and The Deliberator spent 4 days looking for every Banh Mi vendor in the city to try their wares. Sure, the pate was generally fly-blown, the meat had been sitting in the tropical sun for 8 or 9 hours, and the vegetables were old and wilted, but this combination somehow came together to produce a delight so fabulous that The Brains and The Deliberator continued to sample Banh Mi everywhere it was available in Perth. The Sunshine Café Lunch Bar, in our opinion, has the best one around, and for a ridiculously low low price. You can also get pretty good ones (which are a bit more authentically unhygenic looking) from Lucky Importer Exporter in Brisbane Street, Northbridge.

In summary:

Service: No fuss and super friendly.

Food: Can’t say enough good things about the Asian rolls, but we cannot vouch for anything else.

Ambience: Similar to a Leach Highway truck stop.

Highlight: The ‘special mayonnaise’.

Lowlight: We wouldn’t know. Although not opening on weekends is a shame.

Rating: 4 Banh Mi out of 5.

Will we be back? Yep, but only if we ever get out there again on a weekday.

Details: Call them on (08) 9370 1165. 3 rolls and a couple of cokes cost far less than $20. The café is located in the same set of shops as Bliss Noodle Bar, Hanami, Subway and the Cheesecake Shop.


24 July 2008

Inglewood Pizza Bar

Firstly, we'd like to again thank Lazy Aussie of the Worst of Perth for allowing us to use this picture (posted here and tagged 'worst advertising', 'worst graphic design' and 'worst sign' - all of which sum it up better than we ever could). This worst can be seen on the front window of the Inglewood Pizza Bar.

So, as you may have gathered, the Beaufort Street Bloggers made the commitment to finally tick Inglewood Pizza off the list. We’re not sure why it took us so long, it may have been the terrible pizza experiences we encountered on our way down the Inglewood part of the strip, it may have been that we generally leave pizza for impromptu Friday night house parties, or it may have simply been a result of passing by this picture time after time. Anyway, we didn’t need to put it off for so long, because in the end the pizza was pretty damn good.

The Brains rang the order through. Once again, with no menu, she was left floundering – and she was not helped by the less-than-friendly guy at the other end of the phone. The Brains first asked whether Inglewood Pizza Bar did a special. This caused some confusion with the order taker, and he asked what she meant by ‘special’. ‘Umm, do you have, like, an “Inglewood Pizza Special” on your menu or something like that?’ queried the Brains. ‘We’ve got a pizza called the Inglewood Special if that’s what you mean?’. Bingo.

Having crossed that bridge, the Brains didn’t know where to go next – having never been to Inglewood Pizza Bar, she was unsure as to whether they had gourmet treats on offer, or whether the standard Hawaiian & meatlovers were the go (looking back, it is obvious really). So, getting herself into a bit of a panic because the fellow on the phone was getting fairly impatient, the Brains caved and asked for one with the lot, as that is as far as her imagination could take her under the stressed state she was in. When we picked up the pizzas and read the menu we found that the ‘Inglewood Special’ and ‘the Lot’ were largely identical, except that the Lot had pineapple and bacon on it too. This would have been something that would have been good to know at the time of order.

To the ambience. Interestingly, Inglewood Pizza calls itself a ‘Pizza Bar’. This conjured up images of a casual pizza joint, complete with high tables and bar stools on which punters could sit on and dine in, perhaps some cheerful Italian music and the availability of something to drink (being Perth, we certainly didn’t expect alcoholic drink, but perhaps a few softies would have been on hand).


In fact, the Inglewood Pizza Bar is an enormous barren space, with no decoration, no music, no life, no charm, no stools, no chairs - but with 2 leatherette couches (which looked like they were borrowed from a student who had found them on the side of the road) facing a fuzzy tv and an enormous magazine rack. Weird. We also counted 3 drinks fridges, but together they housed exactly 2 bottles of soft drink (and even those appeared to be the employees’ drinks). Not that it mattered, we didn’t plan to dine in.

The fellow who the Brians spoke to on the phone took about 5 minutes to come out to the shop front after we arrived. But, once he was there, he was reasonably friendly and the Brains realised he wasn’t a bad sort at all, perhaps just not great with people.

The pizzas themselves were super. The bases were thin and crispy. The toppings on both pizzas consisted of capsicum, fresh tomato, olives, salami, anchovies & mushrooms. As mentioned earlier, the Lot also came with bacon and pineapple. All the toppings were generously portioned, and seemed to be of reasonably good quality. The anchovies in particular were liberally applied – they were nice chunky bits of fish, as opposed to the tiny stringy things that often appear on takeaway pizza. If you don’t love anchovies, we’d suggest you specifically ask for a small amount.

We also liked the good sized pieces of fresh tomato, and of course, the fact that at Inglewood Pizza, they’re not afraid to be heavy handed with the salami. We all love processed meat, and lots of it. All in all, the pizzas were fresh, tasty and unlike those from Magic Pizza or the Civic Hotel, very edible.



We do note that the menu is fairly limited, and that customers should be aware that Inglewood Pizza does not sell gourmet pizza like Stones Pizza in North Perth, it is more along the lines of good solid Friday night takeaway pizza, perhaps more akin to Marco’s Pizza in Tuart Hill.

In summary:

Service: Pretty gruff over the phone, but we suspect there’s a softie underneath.

Food: Fresh toppings and crispy bases make good pizza.

Ambience: Urgh. Although there was an incredible selection of back issues of Who and OK! Magazines.

Highlight: The anchovies.

Lowlight: The failure to mention we had ordered 2 practically identical pizzas.

Rating: 3.5 shabby couches out of 5.

Will we be back? Possibly, but we’d be more likely to continue buying takeaway pizzas from venues with a more varied menu.

Details
: Call them on (08) 9271 3196 – there’s no website which makes over the phone ordering a little difficult. It was a low low $36 for 2 massive family sized pizzas which (almost) satisfied the 4 of us. We don’t think they deliver, or at least, they have declined to deliver when we tried to order from them in the past.

Coming up: Well, we just discovered that Chicken Treat in Inglewood has a Beaufort Street address, as does Mt Lawley Fish and Chips – and we’re pretty keen to finalise everything north of Walcott Street before we cross the road. Even though we’re pretty much over takweay, we might knock one of those off next week. The week after that we may finally make it to Da Bruno’s as Stinky’s eastern-states based grandma may be available for babysitting. Thanks Mother of BOOTO!

18 July 2008

Bliss Noodle Bar


When The Sponge called ahead to book a table at the Bliss Noodle Bar, the lady on the other end of the phone seemed surprised. She told him no booking would be required, but The Sponge, being the cautious man he is, asked for one anyway. She took down his name and hung up the phone – she had no way to know whether 20 people would be rocking up at 8.30, or whether a romantic dinner for 2 was planned at 6.30.

Before the Bloggers set off for Bliss, it was decided that it was far too wet and cold for young Stinks to accompany them, so Bliss Noodle Bar became another takeaway stop for the Bloggers. The food was ordered, sans menu, and we chose 2 starters (fried squid and curry puffs) and 5 mains (seafood kway teow, pad thai, red curry chicken noodles, Mongolian beef and garlic prawns). Yes, it was a crazy medley of Asian cultures and far eastern delights that perhaps should not have been eaten together, but mixing cuisines is just one benefit of being an ignorant Caucasian living in this multicultural land.

The Brains and The Deliberator braved the rain to pick up our lorry load of carbohydrates and chilli sauce from the restaurant while BITO and The Sponge stayed back let the $4.99 bottle of red breathe. It was when The Brains and The Deliberator arrived that it became clear that bookings were not required. Bliss Noodle Bar is by no means a huge restaurant, but nor is it a pokey little Asian place you might find on William Street where the toilets are located in the kitchen and the tables are so close together that you couldn’t be blamed for accidentally picking up your neighbour’s last king prawn thinking it was your own. However, Bliss Noodle Bar was empty, but for one group of 4 stuck in a corner, happily oblivious to the barren land surrounding them. The décor was fresh and modern, but were very glad to be going home to eat on the couch by the heater, because the combination of a sleek interior and no diners left the place rather soulless.

But to the positives. The girl behind the counter was friendly and helpful, both on the phone and in person. We were thrilled with the free and generously sized bag of prawn crackers, a touch which seems to have all but disappeared in most local Asian restaurants, and one we would love to see make a come back. When we got the food home, it was generously portioned, piping hot and smelled delicious.

It is difficult to write a review of the food though, as when it came time to discuss our thoughts on the food the conversation went something like this:

BITO: the curry puffs were excellent.

All: agreed.

The Sponge: the garlic prawns came with plenty of prawns.

The Deliberator: I didn’t see one prawn in the garlic prawns, it was all vegetables. I also saw nothing but noodles in the red curry chicken noodle dish.

The Brains: I had plenty of chicken in the red curry chicken noodle dish.

BITO: the beef in the Mongolian beef was in cubes, when it should be finely sliced.

The Brains: I liked the beef in cubes.

BITO: the pad Thai was too sweet.

All: agreed.

The Deliberator: would you all just stop your yapping and turn the fucking TV up?

In the end we concluded that the problem was that Bliss Noodle Bar was a jack of all trades but master of none. It needs to focus on one country, or even one region (say, South East Asia, rather than trying to cover India, Thailand, Malaysia, China and Vietnam) and really get a couple of dishes to an outstanding level. Instead, everything was fresh and tasty, and some even had just the right amount of schtang, but nothing seemed to be a signature dish or something we would be desperate to go back for. Also, there were way too many vegetables in the meat dishes – if we wanted veggies, we would have ordered them separately, instead we felt they were being used as a cheap filler at the sacrifice of more meat.

Service: Friendly on the phone, and friendly in person.

Food: Good food, but it didn’t knock our socks off.

Ambience: Too bare and cold for a wintery night.

Highlight: The curry puffs.

Lowlight: Too many vegetables in what should be meat-only or meat-majority dishes.

Rating: 3 bags of free prawn crackers out of 5.

Will we be back? If we couldn’t get a consensus on which type of Asian food we wanted that night, possibly. We’d be more likely to visit Northbridge for our Asian food fix though.

Details: Call them on (08) 9471 8988 - the restaurnt is located in the same set of shops as Hanami, right near the Cheesecake store. It was $90 for 2 entrees and 5 mains, including rice and prawn crackers. They are licensed if you want to eat in. We think they’re on the web but a Google search did not reveal the address.

Coming up: Inglewood Pizza is really hanging over our heads. Has anyone been there? Is it ok or should we continue to put it off until one day when we’ve all had enough cans to face it?

... and a big thanks to the Lazy Aussie from The Worst of Perth, who kindly mentioned us in his fabulous (and actually popular) blog. If you haven't already seen it, check it out, it's hysterical.


Avenue Nine on Urbanspoon

10 July 2008

Ankara Kebabs and Bakery


So the Deliberator (after much, well, deliberation) has ordered 2 chicken kebabs, 1 doner and 1 shish kebab (all with extra meat, egg and cheese), 3 large tubs of chips and a sausage pizza at the counter of Ankara. During the 15 minute wait for our artery-busting feast, Deliberator and Sponge head over the road to the petrol station to purchase soft drink accompaniments, whereupon Deliberator shoots down Sponge’s suggestion to purchase Fanta on the basis that it is "fat and unhealthy". Sponge didn’t know whether to cry or kiss him. (He ended up kissing him.)

Ankara came with a fairly hefty reputation. Billed by some as "the best kebab store on Beaufort Street", it had its work cut out for it against the likes of Medya (see review of 27 February) and Charcoal Chicken (see 11 Feb).

Unfortunately, and while it didn’t necessarily disappoint, we’d have to say that Ankara failed to reach the lofty heights of the aforementioned. Sure, it has a leather couch and a fantastically kitsch garden scene mural on one wall, however the kebabs were standard fare. While the shish meat was a cut above, in all they were relatively bland (even with a variety of different sauces). The pide, listed on the separate "deluxe" menu, was also fairly tasteless. In fact, the sausage on the pide only looked like sausage, it tasted like nothing.

It is not all bad however - the saving grace (and a big one at that) were the chips. Crispy, golden and encrusted with salt, the people have ruled that Ankara has overtaken Charco’s as the "Best Chip on Beaufort Street". No small feat.

Also, Ankara does excellent fresh Turkish bread on most days which beats the rot you buy at Coles.

In all, ideal after a few pints at the Inglewood, not recommended sober.

Service: Brutally efficient without pleasantry or bullshit. Ideal for a kebabery.

Food: Have had better.

Ambience: It’s a kebab shop. With a mural.

Highlight: The chips.

Lowlight: The inflated reputation that preceded it.

Rating: 2.8 double-meats-with-the-lot out of 5.

Will we be back? If drunk at the Inglewood, sure.

Details: Call them on (08) 9473 1083 Coming up: Still to mop up Inglewood Pizza and Da Bruno’s, before heading on to Bliss Noodle Bar.

09 July 2008

Peking Chinese Restaurant, continued

In our review of the Peking Chinese Restaurant we mentioned that there was an incredible dragon-head counter, and a pretty appalling bathroom situation.

Photographic evidence of these 2 delights has now been uploaded. Here's the pre-war men's shitter -



and here is the Counter-of-Dreams -



07 July 2008

Hanami Japanese Restaurant


And so to the first Japanese dining experience on our journey: Hanami (which we are told means "The only Japanese restaurant on Beaufort St") is set back a way from the road and could be easily missed by the undiscerning eye. It is also not huge, as evidenced by the Sponge managing to ram Stinky’s pram into no fewer than 6 tables on the way to our seats (although this could also be testament to the Sponge’s amateur pram-handling status, or the fact that Stinky’s pram is the size and cost of a small car). However, what Hanami lacks in stature, it comfortably makes up for in service and food.


The advance party of the Brains, BOOTO, the Sponge and Stinky arrived first and established camp. As usual, the Deliberator was fannying about somewhere and arrived later on his own. Being an Asian restaurant, and despite her protestations that she wasn’t too well versed in Japanese cuisine, the Brains was in charge of ordering a plethora of dishes to share.


Starters comprised nicely cooked chicken yakitori skewers, a fried white-baity type concoction, tempura squid and octopus balls (taken from a uniquely well-endowed octopus – boom boom). All very nicely presented on little wooden bowls and served very promptly and with a smile.


Mains were beef tepinyaki, assorted sashimi (served on a Mt Fuji-esque mound of grated carrot), chicken teriyaki and mixed tempura. Other than the tempura (which was overbattered and a bit disappointing) all very impressive.


Service was very prompt and attentive, and a uniformed Japanese waitress seemed to be on standby at our shoulder at all times. (These same waitresses were offering exhibitions of paper-napkin crane making at the front counter – the fastest we counted in about 2.7 seconds.) Hanami is licensed too, at not too bad a mark-up.


As we said, Hanami is not huge and, despite being nicely decorated, has something of the feel of a lunch bar rather than a full blown restaurant (offset to some degree though by raised platform-like tables at the front into which tiny people can wedge themselves for the authentic dining experience. Needless to say, this option was denied the Sponge and the Deliberator.) The ambience seems to be slightly at odds with the food and service (and the price - $50 a head with a couple of beers and a bottle of wine), which are akin to a more upmarket venue, however not enough to detract from the experience.


Stinky had a particularly good time, and celebrated his first Japanese dining experience (and his second ever restaurant) by emitting periodic trouser-bombs and generally sleeping through the entire thing.


In all:


Service: Very attentive and polite.


Food: With some (minor and rare) exceptions, top quality.


Ambience: More attune to CBD lunch-bar than fine dining, but tastefully done.


Highlight: Once excavated from the carrot, the sashimi.


Lowlight: Over-battered tempura.


Rating: 3.8 octopus gonads out of 5.


Will we be back? Yes, and not just because it has cornered the Beaufort St Japanese market.


Details: Located at 685c Beaufort St, their number is 9371 9855. Dinner was $50 a head, including 4 beers and a bottle of wine (no dessert).


Coming up: Heading back to mop up Inglewood Pizza and Ankara kebabs. Walcott St looms…


NOTE: Since writing this, it has been brought to our attention that Hanami may not in fact be the sole Japanese restaurant on Beaufort Street open for dinner. If this proves correct, then the Deliberator has galantly offered to commit hari kari to preserve the honour of the Beaufort Street Blog.


Hanami on Urbanspoon

23 June 2008

Peking Chinese Restaurant


A good friend of the Bloggers said he was an expert in all things related to the Peking Chinese Restaurant. Apparently, he grew up quite close to the restaurant and he and his family visited it on an almost weekly basis for close to 10 years. He never claimed it was great Chinese, and he did mention that it had been sold to new owners since he last went, but we had thought the frequency and longevity of his and his family’s visits implied that the Peking Chinese Restaurant would be a reasonably good place to eat. Turns out though, that the Peking Chinese Restaurant is about the worst place on earth to eat, or at least the worst place in Mount Lawley.

The Bloggers were excited to have Stinky along for his first foray into the blogging world (we couldn’t claim it was his first visit to Beaufort Street, because he’d already partaken in several coffees and plates of eggs on fire down the road at Cafissimo). Stinky was a saint, we heard barely a peep from him as he slept like, well, a baby. If he could talk though, we think he would have been complaining loudly about the quality of the slop served up to us that was meant to be Chinese food.

First a note on the décor. We were actually kind of enamoured by the unrennovated 1970s suburban-style Chinese restaurant. The wallpaper was so old that it had done the full fashion circle and now looks like a Florence Broadhurst print that would retail at around $400 a roll. The dark red carpet combined with the luxurious gold Chinoserie style wallpaper, some elaborate gold and red tassled lighting and the fact that the restaurant was divided into small separate rooms gave us the feeling we were sitting in a high class 1930s brothel. This feeling didn’t last for long though, as when we had a close look at the restaurant’s counter we realised we were firmly planted in a unrennovated 1970s suburban-style Chinese restaurant.

The counter was a delight. It involved your usual 1970s suburban-style Chinese restaurant counter, but with the inspired addition of a giant golden dragon head on one end, and a giant golden dragon tail at the other. The Sponge was really quite taken by the counter, and found it hard to peel his eyes off it all night. He wanted to take it home and fashion a bed for Stinky from it, which, we all agreed, would be the finest bed a young man could have.

In terms of the food, we ordered a large array of deep fried goodies to start – prawn toast, spring rolls and fried squid – as well as a serve each of San Choy Bow. While we were waiting for our entrees, we were delivered a plate of exactly 6 prawn crackers. And they were so old and limp and lifeless we could bend them in half. When the entrees arrived things didn’t get much better - the prawn toast lacked prawn, the spring rolls were just edible, the fried squid forgettable and while the San Choy Bow looked fabulous, it failed to deliver on the flavour front.

We chose the typical dishes one would order in an unrennovated 1970s suburban-style Chinese restaurant – honey king prawns, Szechwan chicken, Mongolian lamb, roast duck and chicken chow mein. The Szechwan chicken had a bit of a kick to it and made our noses run ever so slightly, but we could not taste the rest. Like the San Choy Bow, everything looked great, but just had no flavour to speak of. The sizzling dishes were suitably sizzling, the prawns sufficiently plump, the lamb was sufficiently fresh but nothing was sufficiently tasty. It was incredibly bland food.

Nevertheless, we enjoyed our evening as we drank wine from miniature unrennovated 1970s suburban-style Chinese restaurant wine glasses and admired the beauty of the counter. As we were wrapping things up at the restaurant, and wrapping Stinky up for his trip home, it occurred to us that we hadn’t seen a member of the staff for the last half an hour. We waited and waited, called out, rung the bell, slapped the dragon-bench and did everything we could to attract attention to settle the bill but no one appeared. So we ended up doing a runner.

On the way out The Deliberator needed to use the facilities. Until he saw the condition they were in. They seemed to be built in a bomb shelter sometime during the war and have not been upgraded since. We will try and get a photo up soon.

(Note: we didn’t really do a runner.)

In summary:

Service: Largely unavailable.

Food: Unbelievably tasteless.

Ambience
: Like a sleazy b-grade
film noir set.

Highlight: Stinky’s impeccable behaviour.

Lowlight: The absence of chilli, garlic, ginger or any other discernable flavour in the food.

Rating: 1 chopstick out of 5.

Will we be back? Shit no.
Details: Call them on (08) 9271 8505. It wasn’t as cheap as we would have expected, and we paid about $40 per head for 2 courses and corkage (we did over-order though).

Coming up: Hanami is next on the strip, but we may back track and tackle some takeaway joints we skipped earlier.

16 June 2008

Third Avenue Cafe and Pizzeria


We arrived at the Third Avenue Café without any expectations at all. We did not Google any restaurant reviews before going, we had not spoken to anybody who had been, and our experience of the café was limited to one phone call with the chef to reserve our Thursday night table. This single phone call was to set the tone for the entire evening, as upon confirming our reservation, chef said ‘you’ll really enjoy your night’, and my oh my, never was a truer word spoken.


We have fallen head over heals in love with the Third Avenue Café. That’s love people – more than a teenage crush, more than adulterous lust, more than a clandestine affair – it’s shout it from the roof tops and jump on Oprah Winfrey’s couch style love.


As we write this review we are so excited about this place so we thought it would be easier to simply provide a summary of reasons for our love, so here goes:


1. While the Third Avenue Café is not going to win any architectural or interior design awards, it is a comfortable, roomy café which is not too noisy but still provides a good amount of bustling café atmosphere. There’s a large outdoor area that’s kept warm in winter with an abundance of heaters and would be a great place to sit in summer.


2. The menu has plenty to offer – an extensive selection of entrees, several home made pastas, a good sized list of delicious sounding mains, a page of wood fired pizzas and a blackboard detailing freshly made home cooked specials.


3. It’s BYO.


4. The calamari was cooked to perfection – a great mix of squid rings and other bodily parts of the squid, very lightly battered and fried so the squid was crispy and not chewy. Brilliant.


5. The Blogger’s traditional order of the tasting plate was outstanding. An eclectic mix of tiny morsels of deliciousness. We could have ordered one each again for our mains.


6. Friendly unassuming service that was not in your face but always attentive. A rarity in this city.


7. A breathtaking duck leg with risotto main which seemed to involve more than half a crispy skinned duck.


8. The Café De Paris butter. Now this was probably the highlight. The Sponge’s enormous steak came with a generous dollop of this most delicious substance. So enamoured by the flavours, so overwhelmed by the deliciousness, so excited by the concept, The Sponge hunted down chef to ask what was involved in making such a fine steak accompaniment. ‘Well’, said chef Anthony, ‘there are many different recipes, but traditionally it involves butter, herbs such as chives, dill and rosemary and a whole range of other sauces, spices and flavours’. He went on ‘you know what, I made a big batch last night, I will give you some to take home’. What a generous offer! we thought, but we didn’t really expect that the chef would actually follow through it. How wrong we were, as we left Anthony presented us with an enormous parcel of Café De Paris butter for enjoyment in our own home. What bliss! What generosity! What kindness! We were overcome with happiness. The warm glow is still with us today.


9. Home made ravioli. Delicious, hot, al dente ravioli with a different filling every day.


10. A chalkboard desert menu filled with tempting home made treats. Despite being savoury supporters all the way, the bloggers succumbed to the dessert menu and didn’t regret it.


11. A lovely chef. The Deliberator enjoyed several private chats with Anthony outside the restaurant and he was more than happy to explain the menu to us. Over and over again for The Deliberator, but always with a smile and enthusiasm.


12. It’s great with crowds too – we wanted to test our love for Third Avenue Café by bringing a group of 10 to the restaurant on a Friday night. The service was seamless, wine buckets were plentiful and no one even remotely looked like they were going to ask us to leave after our 4th hour there.

In Summary


Service: Unassuming but efficient.


Food: Amazing. Excellent quality produce combined with great care and imagination resulted in superb food.


Ambience: Pretty standard Perth café ambience.


Highlight: The Café De Paris butter.


Lowlight: We won’t even dignify this with an answer.


Rating: 4.8 succulent steaks out of 5.


Will we be back? We already have been.


Details: Visit their website on
www.thirdave.com.au or call them on (08) 9271 6033. The bill worked out at about $55 per head for 3 courses and corkage.

Coming up: Peking Chinese Restaurant here we come!


Third Avenue on Urbanspoon

13 June 2008

It's a baby!


Readers will have noticed a lack of postings in the last couple of weeks, and cleverer readers would have realised it may have something to do with BITO's condition.


The Bloggers are delighted to announce the chaotic, but safe, arrival of The Sponge Junior*, a beautiful and charming chap weighing in at around 3.8kgs.


We will not be offline for long, and look forward to The Sponge Junior's first blog outing.
*not his real name

Thai Orchid Restaurant


As BITO’s due date rapidly approached, many strange happenings had been reported: an unusually bright star was shining over North Perth, a group of shearers were startled by an apparition in fields near Katanning and three exotic kings from the East had been seen wandering Beaufort St with parcels in hand. More importantly, the soon-to-be-grandparents of young Stinky had converged on Perth from all corners of the globe (well, Gippsland and South Perth) to rejoice in the impending birth.


Thus it was with lightness of step and gladness of heart that the Bloggers (plus MOBITO, FOBITO and Mother of Sponge) descended upon the Thai Orchid to celebrate BITO’s potentially last Blogging experience before separating into two distinct beings and undergoing a celestial transformation to become BOOTO (Bun Out Of The Oven).


Not much was known of the Thai Orchid beforehand, other than it was a Gold Plate winner and the waitresses wore gold and silver lacy costumes. This, coupled with the obligatory bling and kitsch, signalled that we were in for an authentic Perth-style Thai experience. And we were not let down:
Ably facilitated by The Brains, the starters consisted of very passable satay sticks, golden bags and fish cakes. Mains were a little late in coming – a minor complaint, but one which carries potentially serious ramifications when coupled with the ever-present galleon of wine that seems to accompany the Bloggers wherever they venture. Accordingly, the main course seemed to meld into a maelstrom of sizzling prawns, chicken and cashew nuts, penang curry and a peculiar dish called the Crying Tiger. (Not sure how many tigers perished in the making of that dish, but it was worth every endangered tear duct.)


Prominent through the wine-induced fog though were the beef massaman and pad thai – two more stalwart Thai accompaniments it would be harder to find, yet the Thai Orchid seemed to take them that extra step. The bottomless steamed rice bowl, served by an attendant, was also of particular note.


Aside from a slight delay in initial menu-presentation and service of main course (which, giving the benefit of the doubt, could well have been intentional as we waited for (guess who) the Deliberator to arrive), the service was friendly and efficient.


In all, a cut above your average Thai.


In summary:


Service: Friendly and no-nonsense (if ever so slightly tardy).


Food: Very tasty, if a little on the mild side.


Ambience: Golden and lacy.


Highlight: The Massaman.


Lowlight: If anything, it didn’t completely blow us away.


Rating: 3.8 golden funbags out of 5


Will we be back? Maybe, maybe not.


Details: Call them on (08) 9473 1300. The bill worked out at about $40 per head with starters and corkage.


Coming up: We may try and backtrack to Inglewood Pizza or Ankara Kebabs prior to, or immediately after, the arrival of Stinky. Otherwise, onwards and upwards towards Walcott!


Thai Orchid on Urbanspoon

15 May 2008

Jessie's Curry Kitchen and Cafe


Pub folklore dictates that the lyrics go something like "....You know I wish that I had Jesse's girl...",

However, the BSBs have to share with our readers that in our professional opinion there can be no doubt, that prior to its radio release, this classic Rick Springfield hit did in fact make no mention of a "girl", but rather made reference to an unassuming, yet solid curry house situate at 869 Beaufort Street, Inglewood.

From the "blink and you'll miss it" shopfront, Jessie's Curry Kitchen and Cafe makes no promises. In fact, the BSBs were fully prepared to move their Thursday night soiree to another venue, should Jessie's not actually open for evening trade. Fortune favoured the BSBs on this particular night. The lights were on, so we ventured in.

It must be said, there is no mood lighting, nor cosy decor to greet you at Jessie's. There is something much better. It is the genuine, warm hearted greeting of Jessie's husband - the man behind the woman so to speak. So often the BSBs find they are greeted with indifference and at times even annoyance when requesting a table for 4. Baffling really when you consider that the male contingent of our party clearly own big appetites.

But we digress.

Post warm greeting from Mr Jessie, we were immediately accommodated at our choice of table, outside on busy Beaufort Street, yet taking advantage of what was to be one of Perth's last balmy nights for the 2007/2008 Summer. We were then promptly presented with menus and provided with glasses for our vast (of course) array of wine and the excess taken away to refrigeration pending consumption. None of the glasses matched. It has to be said the BSBs take this as a good sign. Having eaten at many a dodgy curry house both here and overseas, the BSBs know that often the lack of matching glassware and cutlery is a good indication that an establishment prefers to concentrate on its food, rather than on needless aesthetics.

Jessie's specialises in Indian and Malaysian cuisine, which makes for a more interesting menu than offered by your average Perth curry house. Whilst both born in Sri Lanka, Jessie and her husband were both raised in Malaysia. Hence the interesting mix.

Even if one were to ignore the obvious handicap of The Deliberator, the BSBs were left...well... deliberating. Thankfully, Mr Jessie came to the rescue with a few recommendations and we were soon on our way.

Starters (to share) included a selection of Dosai (savoury pancake made from rice and dahll), your standard samosas and chapati.

Our mains (also to share) were something of a mystery, with the descriptions on the menu divulging only that we had ordered a chicken curry, a lamb curry and a prawn curry. To play a little safely, we added a Kway Teow to finish. There was definite bite to many of the dishes, however not enough that it took away from the actual tastiness of the various flavours within each curry sauce.

All dishes served were helpfully accompanied with an explanation of the ingredients and origins from Mr Jessie himself. He remained throughout the meal attentive, yet not overbearing nor annoying.

Towards the end of our meal and after much gushing to Mr Jessie, the table was rewarded with a special visit from Jessie who momentarily left her kitchen to check we were happy with our meal and tell us a little of the history of Jessie's Curry Kitchen and Cafe. Of particular note was how hard Jessie acknowledged her husband worked in supporting her in her restaurant endeavours. Aside from running his own business during the day, Mr Jessie helped out as the only wait staff present and also deboned around 100 kilograms of chicken drumsticks per week in order that the chicken used in Jessie's chicken dishes was of the highest standard, without a hint a dryness. Also worth noting is that Jessie is the sole cook behind Jessie's kitchen. The BSBs can say without hesitation that this did not at all affect the timeliness with which their meal was served.

But the best was yet to come. The bill. An inexplicable $70 total!

And so it was that the BSBs left Jessie's Curry Kitchen and Cafe that night with that warm feeling one gets from good food, personal service and a certain smugness with having dispelled a long held myth: Rick Springfield never had a mate named Jesse and even if he did, Jesse is too poncy a name for a bloke to have a hot girlfriend that would make him the envy of his mates. So it stands to solid logic and reason that whilst the BSBs think they made a real find in Jessie's Curry Kitchen and Cafe, it would appear that Mr Springfield made it there and fell in love some 20 years before us.

In summary:

Service: Wondeful, kind, friendly, interesting. We loved it.

Food: Absolutely outstanding curries.

Ambience: It's up to you! You can enjoy takeaway curry-house chic or highway side dining.

Highlight: the warm greeting, Jessie, Mr Jessie and the chicken curry.

Lowlight: there was none worth mentioning.

Rating: 4.5 mismatchng wine glasses out of 5 (our first ever 4.5).

Will we be back? every week if we could.

Details: Call them on (08) 9271 8528. The bill was close enough to zero to not worry about. No corkage was charged. On Friday and Saturdays extra dishes are offered.
Coming up: as we visited Jessie's some time ago, it's irrelevant. We are still going to Third Avenue Cafe this week.


Jessie's Curry Kitchen and Cafe on Urbanspoon

14 May 2008

The Inglewood Hotel


After a short hiatus, the Bloggers have now recommenced their journey down Beaufort Street. Given BITO seems only minutes away from becoming BOOTO (Bun Out of the Oven) we decided to skip the 2 takeaway joints between Mekong and the Inglewood Hotel (being Inglewood Pizza and of course, Ankara). We will save them for the arrival of The Sponge Junior as we are not sure how well s/he will adapt to Thursday night dining in the early stages of life.

So, straight to the Inglewood Hotel we went, which was a stop we had all been eagerly anticipating.

The Inglewood Hotel is a great pub, you can always find a seat, it has equally appealing alfresco and indoor dining, it shows sport, plays music, has a good selection of beer and wine and dishes up high quality pub food. Our visit on Thursday night was no exception.

In a major turn out for the books, The Deliberator was running late. Incredible. So, the rest of the Bloggers headed down without him, relishing the opportunity to engage in some high quality conversation without the constant interruption, belligerent comments and general disturbance that The Deliberator, although much loved, is famous for.

While we waited, we bought a bottle of wine, a pint of beer, Turkish bread with dips and some fried chorizo. The chorizo did not look like chorizo to us, but it was delicious. It came out as very thin slices of some Italian sausage or other, crisply fried and served with lemon. The selection of 3 dips were very tasty, although The Sponge felt one of them was completely out of place and was nothing more than a bit of runny yoghurt. The Turkish bread was hot and oily, just the way it should be. The only down side was that there was not quite enough bread, which is nearly always the case, so to avoid wastage we had to pile the dips on the bread in enormous quantities.

The Deliberator then arrived. He picked up the menu, looked at it for about 2 seconds and told us he’d made his decision. It was so incredible we wondered where The Deliberator we knew so well had gone. He then walked to the bar, bought another bottle of wine, came back, slammed the wine bucked on the table, filled his glass to the brim, flopped on his chair and proceeded to educate us on how life is. Oh, there he is.

The Brains ordered the hamburger, which was the biggest and most wonderful hamburger she had consumed in some time. It came with a ridiculous sized serving of chips, and all the necessary extras – cheese, bacon and egg. As for the other dishes, when The Brains sent an email to the rest of the team asking for their input into this review, she decided the descriptions of the meals were better straight from the punters themselves:

The Sponge: ‘Chicken Parmagiana (ie. a tender chicken breast, lightly crumbed, and served with a topping of ham, melted mozzarella and a tomato sauce).’ [Please refer back to the Tony’s Pasta House post for our previous review of a chicken parma.]

The Deliberator: ‘Pork Sausages on a bed of Mash with Caramelised onions and bacon in top all topped with a very nice gravy/sauce (which I can not remember the name of). The Brains had the burger and chips. The "side of chips" for the table was as generous as I have seen ..... and I have seen a few.’

The Sponge: ‘Pretty sure BITO had some sort of lamb dish?? I also had a lager, and some wine. I’m getting flashbacks of some kind of sausage too. The barman had long hair and looked like a bit of a loser. That concludes my memories of the evening.’

The Deliberator: ‘I am surprised and insulted that you do not remember the giant fart I did at the table.’

The Sponge: ‘If it had been a unique event, I am sure I would have remembered it. On the other hand, if one day we sit down to dinner and you do NOT fart, then I am sure it will instill in me a memory I will cherish for the rest of my days.’

In summary:

Service: very friendly, understated but attentive enough.

Food: Top notch, we love this grub.

Ambience: comfortable, relaxing and not so cool that we’re scared away.

Highlight: the giant side of chips.

Lowlight: the waiter’s hair.

Rating: 4 pints of draught out of 5.

Will we be back? sooner than you think.

Details: Call them on (08) 9370 5511. The bill came to roughly $40 per head with ample wine and beer.

Coming up: We are going to Third Avenue Café next, and we know absolutely nothing about it.


Inglewood Hotel on Urbanspoon