27 February 2008

Medya King Kebab

As mentioned last week, the world of the Beaufort Street Bloggers was turned upside down when the Sponge told us he would be away for our traditional Thursday night get together. The bloggers spent several days putting their heads together to work out a plan to make sure we would still spend the minimum of 2 dinner-time hours per week together while also keeping the blog running. The resulting plan was a master stroke of pure genius – to eat on Tuesday.

Last night the Sponge, the Deliberator and the Brains took a trip to Medya King Kebab, just next door to the Baker’s Delight in Inglewood. BITO stayed at home preparing the silverware, crystal and linen napkins for the arrival of the chosen food. We have now discovered that eating a kebab off china is even better than eating one on the footpath out the front of the Bog at 5.30am with a bunch of new best friends discovered just that evening.

Medya King Kebab is a bright, clean establishment with pleasant staff and suitably varied menu – the bloggers were particularly happy that in addition to the usual doner kebab, shish kebabs were an option. There were also pide, pizza, salad and dip options to suit everyone’s kebab-shop fare requirements. We chose a lamb shish kebab, a chicken doner, a meat and salad (half chicken, half that crazy beef/lamb doner mix that’s best not to think about), a vegetable pide, 2 large chips and a Turkish bread and hommus. A ridiculous amount of food by anyone’s standards, but we do what we can to make our reviews accurate.

The bread used for the kebabs was thicker than usual and heated before being used. A big tick. The lamb was freshly cooked and tender. The pide was also freshly made. The 2 kebabs were excellent, with just the right amount of sauce to meat to salad ratio. Sometimes kebabs can be so overloaded with the cheaper salads that you wonder how they mistook your order of a lamb sandwich for a piece of pita bread stuffed with lettuce. Sadly, the meat and salad was slightly disappointing – the salads that were on display in the shop included a very tasty spicy onion salad and the traditional favourite, tabouleh. The salad that came in the meat and salad combo was onion, tomato and lettuce – yawn. The meat however was very tasty.

The bloggers were also a big fan of the hommus, it had more garlic in it than hommus usually has which made it doubly tasty. The Turkish bread, while it could have been a little fresher, was good and well priced - $3 for what seemed like several metres of the stuff. The chips were neither here nor there, they were pretty soggy by the time we got them home, and they could have done with a heap more salt. Of course, we still ploughed our way through 2 family sized boxes very happily.

In all, Medya King Kebabs was a positive experience in the kebab shop genre. We were impressed with the staff who all looked up from their respective positions at the grill and smiled and waved us goodbye when we left. The Sponge, so caught up in the wonderful smile and wave moment, had some trouble walking out the door. The plastic flaps covering the door were wider and heavier than he expected, and knocked his sunglasses clean off his head. This also happened to him on the way in, so it’s difficult to tell whether the plastic flaps were at fault, or if the Sponge has some kind of walking difficulties.

In summary:

Service: Friendly and smiley.

Food: Very solid kebab store fare with especially good hommus.

Ambience: Fluorescent lighting and white tiles.

Highlight: The hommus and the shish kebab meat.

Lowlight: The Sponge says the heavy plastic flaps covering the door, the rest of us think the meat and salad and quality of the chips.

Rating: 3.5 spinning mystery-meat rotisseries out of 5.

Will we be back? Yes, we’d love to try it out hungover or drunk, which we admit, is the true test for the quality of a kebab.

Details: Around $15 a head for a stupid amount of food.

Coming up: Our research says that ‘Al Sito’ at 885 Beaufort Street is next on our list. We have never seen this place, and believe it is very new, so it will be an exciting stop for the bloggers and their fans.

25 February 2008

Mia Café

The good oil on Mia Café was that it prides itself on its hearty breakfasts and does a solid mid-week lunch trade. Less information was available on its prowess as a dinner restaurant but, having fulfilled the BSB criteria of being open on a Thursday night and having a table for 4, it was picked up by our radar.

It’s a pleasant place – quite laid back casual interior with (we’re told) a peaceful leafy courtyard, although we ate inside. Its casual café style is emphasised by its lack of a liquor licence and the fact that non-alcoholic drinks appear to be a case of help yourself from the fridge by the counter.

More on this later, but first – the food:

A very passable tasting plate was ordered first (comprising baby octopus, beef strips, frittata and dips among other things), along with some less passable and pretty slapped-together “herb bread” (sans herbs).

While the menu is fairly limited, Thursday night was cheap pasta night – your choice of 4 pastas (although they’d run out of the penne) coupled with a choice of 4 different sauces for around $11. This offer was taken up by two of the Bloggers, the others opting for a chorizo and mushroom risotto (very tasty) and a chicken and ricotta meatball spaghetti (generous on the meatball side but bland at best).

While nicely presented, the cheap pastas tasted just that – cheap. A distinct thorn in the side of the Beaufort Street Bloggers is the offer of a reduced price item from the regular menu, with a corresponding reduction in quality. The Deliberator searched high and low in vain for some taste in his spaghetti and meatballs, and (in a world first) was forced to leave food on his plate as he switched his attention to the Brains’ risotto.

And now to our major gripe of the evening: having made a booking for 8:30 (although, to be fair, we were 10 minutes late), we were told on arrival that the kitchen closed at 9pm. This precipitated us being drawn into some kind of rushed and panicky vortex as the staff tried to extract and deliver our orders in an attempt to get us out of there pronto. While the staff were all extremely pleasant and professional, their focus was clearly on getting home as quickly as possible, rather than permitting the Beaufort Street Bloggers to dine in the relaxed and genteel manner to which they are accustomed. This was particularly irksome to the Deliberator, who simply doesn’t do “hurried”.

The starter came very shortly after ordering (not a bad thing) but the mains were then delivered before it had been finished and cleared away. While still eating said mains, we were asked whether we wanted coffee and desert in a tone that unequivocally said “order at your peril”. Not even an hour after walking in the door, the Bloggers found themselves catapulted back out onto the pavement, heads spinning and wondering if we had just imagined going out for dinner that night.

Overall, we were left with the impression that, while Mia Café may well be a nice place for breakfast, it hasn’t yet made up its mind whether or not it’s serious about the whole dinner thing. Limited menu, early closing and panicked ambience left us with the distinct impression that they were simply going through the motions.

In summary:

Service: pleasant and professional, but frantic to the point of distraction.

Food: Aside from the risotto and the tasting plate, fairly forgettable.

Ambience: Like the opening scene from “Saving Private Ryan”.

Highlight: The tasting plate.

Lowlight: Feeling like we’d just stepped out of a washing machine.

Rating: 2 whirling dervishes out of 5.

Will we be back? Maybe for breakfast (once the blood pressure has settled).

Details: call on (08) 9271 1599. You can BYO and corkage is $4 per bottle.Cost: $25 a head for shared starter and 4 mains (incl. cheap pasta special)

Coming up: Medya King Kebabs is the next establishment on our list. As the Sponge will be interstate next Thursday, we are not sure when we will be ripping into a donner with the lot and a box of hot chips. We will keep you posted.

Mia Cafe on Urbanspoon

15 February 2008

The Banyan Tree Indian Restaurant

Unusual for these times, a google search for the Banyan Tree Indian Restaurant was quite unrevealing - perhaps because there seem to be at least two Banyan Tree Indian Restaurants in each city in Australia - plus various resorts and day spas in Thailand and India with the same name. Several google permutations later we managed to locate a review by bergsy on a Vogue Australia forum (http://forums.vogue.com.au/showthread.php?t=190279&page=221). Things seem to have improved considerably since bergsy dined at the Banyan Tree (or maybe we're easier to please) so we can safely say that it is no longer necessary to give the Banyan Tree a wide girth (sic) as suggested by bergsy.

A quick search of Wikipedia reveals that a Banyan Tree is a form of fig which grows within cracks and crevices of a host tree or building. The germinated seed of the Banyan sends its roots down towards the ground enveloping part of the host tree or building, earning it the friendly sounding nickname "Strangler Fig", which is perhaps not as nice a name for a restaurant as the Banyan Tree.

Wikipedia also tells us that the Banyan Tree is considered sacred in India and Pakistan. It's fair to say that we didn't treat the Banyan Tree Indian Restaurant with due reverence when we took advantage of its BYO licensing by bringing with us more than a bottle of wine per person in our party (which is a fair effort given BITO was not drinking).

Upon arrival we were gladdened to see a large Indian family sitting at one table and apparently enjoying their food. We were also charmed by the gentlemen in the restaurant who decided that nothing says I love you on Valentines Day better than a cozy curry at the Banyan Tree. We had thought that a suburban Indian joint might be the one place we could be guaranteed to avoid the usual Valentines Day couples fest, but we were incorrect. No doubt those couples who had chosen to enjoy a couply dinner at the Banyan Tree really enjoyed the Deliberator's raucous commentry on life as we quickly demolished our meal and half a dozen bottles of wine.

The large amount of wine has not helped our memories of the meal or the restaurant, but we do recall that the obligatory pappadums and dips arrived shortly after we were seated and were very crisp and tasty. The decor was a charming blend of faded Indian bling and even more faded 1970s laminex - the indoor plants were a nice touch. That said, for Indian fare you wouldn't have it any other way.

We liked the starter plate ($24 each). Two of them were a sufficent entree for our party of five and enabled us to try several of the tasty entrees on offer, including a samosa and several tandoori items.

For mains, we ordered a curry for each person plus rice and two types of naan bread, which typically for an Indian restaurant was way too much food. The chicken jalfreezi was very nice, as was the mince stuffed naan. The Brains failed miserably with her choice of a prawn dish, but what do you expect?

The wait staff was speedy and efficient, although not super chatty. We suspect they were overseas students and that English is not their first language but we were able to overcome the language barrier by adopting the international code of repeating ourselves and getting progressively louder and slower each time. We had to chase up one of our mains, but given how many we had ordered this was really only a very minor inconvenience.

In summary:

Service: Fast but not super chatty.

Food: All quite tasty, although the prawn korma was not a favourite.

Ambience: The decor is the perfect blend of Indian bling with faded 1970s laminex.

Highlight: All of the curries were quite tasty with just the right amount of schtang and most of the condiments were free and plentiful.

Lowlight: Some of the curries were a little on the watery side.

Rating: 3.5 samosas out of 5.

Will we be back? probably but won't rush.

Details: call on (08) 9473 1190. You can BYO and corkage is $[something insignifcant after 1.2 bottlse of wine each] per bottle.

Coming up: We're heading next door to the Banyan Tree and look forward to a meal among the nursery at the Mia Cafe.

11 February 2008


Some eagle-eyed Beaufort Street Blogger fans have spotted a discrepancy in our reporting, which we failed to disclose earlier. The next Beaufort Street establishment along from Charco's is, in fact, Da Bruno's, and not the Banyan Tree Indian Restaurant. The reason we are skipping Da Bruno's this week is to save BITO (Bun in the Oven) from the pain of eating at a fine dining restaurant without the pleasure of copius amounts of wine. When BITO is no longer in her current condition, we will head back to Da Bruno's.

We will also be waiting for BITO to resume full drinking capacity before hitting Jackson's and Veritas.

Charco's Charcoal Chicken

This week saw a slight departure from the usual procedure: while Charco’s Chicken has seating for around 30 people at any given time, the decision was made to make use of their main function as a takeaway outlet and dine at the home of Brains and the Deliberator.

And what a takeaway outlet it is. Don’t be sucked in by the name – not only is Charco’s chicken range not just limited to the charcoal variety (they also specialise in Portuguese spicy "flat" chicken, barbecued chicken, chicken nuggets and chicken drumsticks among others), they are the one-stop shop for take-away food. You name it, they do it: souvlaki, burgers, lasagna, schnitzel, ribs and a variety of other solid take-away fare. They even do a sideline in vegetables, including (amazingly) scalloped potatoes in creamy sauce. And it doesn’t end there – you can wash down your feast with coffee or a selection of icecream sundaes and milkshakes. And it’s halal to boot!

Staff were extremely well-presented, efficient and friendly. And wise: the Sponge was advised against the excessive application of vinegar to the chips to avoid sogginess on the journey home (advice which was followed to the benefit of all – see below).

Unfortunately, the Deliberator and the Sponge (being the appointed purchasers of said takeaway) were completely overwhelmed and bamboozled by the dazzling array of snacks on offer and so decided simply to judge the establishment on its flagship: chicken and chips.

The food was a delight. The chips were golden brown, crispy and covered in just the right amount of oil (prompting the Sponge to proclaim them the Best Chips on Beaufort Street (thus far…)). The portuguese chicken was spicy and cooked to perfection. This was a particular favourite of the Deliberator, who monstered almost an entire bird down to the bone (think of those old documentaries showing a cow being stripped by a school of piranhas in 20 seconds flat).

In all, Charco’s Chicken are the benchmark of the Beaufort Street takeaway merchants. The BSBs cannot recommend it enough, although be prepared to spend a little time there as you negotiate their American-sized array of goodies.

In summary:

Service: Very friendly and efficient.

Food: Top notch.

Ambience: Take-away shop chic (although our experience was limited due to dining off-site)

Highlight: The chips

Lowlight: The sheer size of the menu (sorry, but we had to include one.)

Rating: 4 charcoal chicken drumsticks out of 5.

Will we be back: Definitely. This place is a wealth of unexplored riches.

Details: Charco’s Charcoal Chicken, 971 Beaufort Street, Inglewood WA 6052. Phone: 9371 3700

Coming up: The Beaufort Street Bloggers, possibly with a special guest, will be spending a romantic Valentine's Day meal together at the Banyan Tree Indian Restaurant.

01 February 2008

The Civic Hotel

[this picture is representation of the cheese laden pizzas served at the Civic Hotel]
There was much trepidation about our visit to the Civic Hotel. We had never been there, always assuming it was full of chicks with tattoos and men wearing VB singlets. Turns out we were about spot on. Well, that’s a bit harsh, as the Civic is a good pub, potentially a great pub, but there are a few issues it needs to sort out.

First, let’s discuss the good bits. It won’t take long. The Civic Hotel is huge, it has several cavernous rooms and heaps to do – play pool, watch TV, play video games (more on that later) and best of all, listen to some great live music in the beer garden. The music was great – it was a hot night and sitting outside watching Nathan Gaunt play acoustic guitar among the flame trees out the front was excellent. Top marks for the set up too, there was a lot of room to move, heaps of seating and a nice relaxed vibe.

As we mentioned before, there are video games to play, and the one that really grabbed the Beaufort Street Bloggers and their special guests was a game called ‘Deer Hunter’. As you may have guessed, it involves shooting deer. But you don’t shoot the female deer, so really, it’s not so violent and actually quite chivalrous. Deer Hunter entertained us for some time.

So, now the bad bits. The menu is very limited – and admittedly it was never meant to be a dinner menu – we could tell by the way it was entitled ‘bar snacks’. So, the bar snacks menu consisted of chips, fish and chips (which we had already seen on another table looking decidedly average) and a selection of ‘gourmet’ pizzas. Labelling them gourmet was an absolute nonsense. We ordered 4 large pizzas between 6 people, which we would normally polish off with ease. This time however, we probably left close to 2 pizzas worth of scraps.

The pizzas we chose were the New Yorker, the chicken and bacon, the Thai chicken and the meatball. When they were brought out it seemed as though we had ordered four of the exact same pizza, being ‘cheese’ flavoured pizza. The amount of cheese was unbelievable. It was stacked 6 cm high. It was dripping off the side of the pizzas. It stretched the distance of the table when someone tried to take a slice. It was disgusting. The bases were just as bad – you cannot hide a McCain’s frozen pizza base no matter how much cheese you put on top of it. They were flavourless, soggy and just plain wrong. The toppings were so covered in cheese we couldn’t comment on them, and there’s a good chance there were actually no toppings at all hidden among all that fromage.

The service was not exceptional either. Despite buying about 5 jugs of beer, 2 bottles of wine and 4 pizzas, when the designated driver who is clearly pregnant asked for a jug of water, it was delivered with maximum of fuss and eye rolling. It’s not like the place was jam packed either.

So, as a pub, it’s pretty good, but never, ever eat there.

In summary:

Service: Not very friendly. Not too speedy either.

Food: Deplorable.

Ambience: Relaxed, comfortable, generally very good.

Highlight: Deer Hunter

Lowlight: Never being able to eat cheese again.

Rating: 1 piece of soggy pizza base out of 5 (bearing in mind this is really a review of the food, not the pub)

Will we be back? definitely for quiet Sunday afternoon drinks.

Details: we couldn’t find a website, but you can call them on 08 9272 1011. We don’t know why you’d ever need to call though, we would be surprised if you were able to make a reservation.

Coming up: Next week we will be doing things a little differently, and will try some Charco’s chicken for takeaway.