24 March 2008

Magic Pizza

Magic Pizza is anything but magic. Well, maybe that's not quite true, there must be some magic involved to keep the place operational because it's certainly not the pizza.

The Bloggers had a busy week but found time to fit in a takeaway-style component of the Beaufort Street Challenge, which is why we skipped Jessie's Curry Kitchen and Cafe and went on to the next venue, Magic Pizza. We will get to Jessie's next week. So, BITO and The Brains put their hands up to do the pizza run. They were immediately struck by the thoughtfulness of the decor - a delightful combination of novelty souvenir USA number plates (you know the ones, the New York number plate that says I LOVE NY etc) and pictures of The King.

They were also struck by the menu - even the Deliberator would not have found choosing a pizza very difficult here, there were only about 8 to chose from. The Bloggers don't necessarily think a limited menu is ever a problem though - because if the food is great, a lack of choice becomes irrelevant. But the food was terrible. More on that in a second.

The fellow behind the counter was very friendly, he was happy to provide some advice on our selections and got down to the business of cooking the pizzas very quickly. When they were finished, he even walked them outside where BITO and The Brains were sitting taking in the Beaufort Street vista.

The pizzas were still hot by the time we got them home, but disappointingly they all looked identical. It was a moment of déjà vu when we opened up the boxes and wondered how we had yet again managed to order 3 cheese flavoured pizzas (see our review of the Civic Hotel to relive our first fromage free-for-all fiasco). Disenchanted, but still hopeful, we hopped in and consumed what we could of our dinner. It was not as though the pizzas were horrible, it was more that they weren't very good. Cheap toppings, too much cheese, a salt overload and unexceptional bases came together for a truly uninspiring meal.

While BITO and The Brains quickly arrived at their decision that the pizzas were not getting the Bloggers’ thumbs up, it took The Sponge 6 or 7 slices and a 2 litre bottle of Fanta before declaring them average. The rest of the night was spent arguing about who would keep the leftovers (they went in the bin) and watching Goldmember. So really, it wasn’t all bad.

In summary:

Service: Pleasant and helpful.

Food: Well below par, particularly when you consider the plethora of wonderful pizza choices in the area (think Stones Pizza and Marcos).

Ambience: Like a roadside diner in a two bit town in southern USA during the depression, but with less ambience.

Highlight: The service. And the fact that Goldmember was on TV.

Lowlight: Poorly executed and unimaginative pizza.

Rating: 1 slice of cheap salami out of 5.

Will we be back? Nup.

Details: Call them on (08) 9370 1818. The cost was a reasonable $17 for a family sized pizza.

Coming up: This time we will go to Jessie's Curry Kitchen and Cafe. We promise.

18 March 2008

Avenue 9

We felt a little sorry for Avenue 9 – we had decided to amalgamate our visit there with the Brain’s birthday on a Friday night, and had already had a couple (ie: dangerously close to a skinful) by the time we arrived at 8:30. However neither this, nor the fact that we had 4 additional guests in train, would sway us from our weekly duty to the Beaufort Street faithful.

Kudos to Avenue 9: they performed very admirably indeed despite all the adversity that we presented. Our table was nicely placed in a corner (perhaps a deliberate move as they saw us staggering up to the entrance?) and service was attentive from the start. The atmosphere was lively and noisy (in a cheerful way) and décor quite modern and funky. Low lighting helped to maintain the mood as well (although maybe this was just our eyeballs dimming).

Garlic bread straight off was a winner (and a potential lifesaver for some in the party) as was the tasting plate – contained all your Italian standards (dips, olives, chorizo etc) though very well crafted.

Mains were all large and pretty tasty. The chicken parma was a good size and was, well – a chicken parma. Ticked all the boxes. BITO and the Brains’ fish was succulent and came with chunky chips the size of cricket bats and a mound of Greek salad. The Deliberator went toe-to-toe with a pile of rabbit the size of a small car which would have killed a lesser man. (The Deliberator didn’t blink.)

Though we came armed with a battleship worth of BYO wine, we inexplicably found ourselves dry midway through the night. Luckily, the well priced winelist was at hand to whisk us away from dread sobriety at the last minute.

An extensive desert menu was available, however not much room was left after dinner. Besides, the focus by then was simply to keep toasting the Brain’s birthday over and over again, which the staff were happy to let us do long after most of the remaining punters had departed.

The bill was presented promptly (could you blame them?) although (annoyingly) no split billing was available (they eventually relented though and let us split it in two).

Overall, a very pleasant evening with good hearty food and plenty of good service. And a glass of wine or two.

In summary:

Service: Attentive and professional. (And even managed to stay that way despite some vintage menu deliberation from you-know-who.)

Food: Standard Italian fare, though well prepared and presented. A lot of it too.

Ambience: Lively and noisy, like a Naples street scene (with a far lower chance of being stabbed).

Highlight: The perfect place to informally celebrate a birthday.

Lowlight: If we had to pick one, it would be removing plates before everyone had finished eating (although this could be partially excused given the overall business in the place.)

Rating: 3.5 chicken parmas out of 5.

Will we be back? Most certainly (once released from rehab).

Details: Call on (08) 9271 7177 or website is
www.avenuenine.com.au. You can BYO and cost was around $45 a head for shared starters, mains, coffee and corkage.

Coming up: According to the Master List, the next establishment is Jessie's Curry Kitchen and Cafe. We might not be able to make it this week, so please be patient. In the meantime, feel free to leave your comments, we promise to respond.

Avenue Nine on Urbanspoon

05 March 2008

Tony's Pasta House (now Al Sito)

In demand reviewers, The Brains and The Sponge unfortunately had Kurry KlubTM commitments this Thursday, so it was in order to establish a quorum then that this week’s meeting of the Beaufort Street Bloggers was shifted to Wednesday.

Nestled behind the old post office on Beaufort Street, Inglewood, the entrance to Al Sito is actually on Ninth Avenue, giving it that whole “just off the beaten track, only locals know about it” vibe.

With the Deliberator running late (as always), we yet again arrived slightly tardy for our 8:30 booking. We were nervous. Remember the reception we’d received when arriving a little late to Café Mia? As BITO approaches the 30 week mark of her pregnancy, stress and high blood pressure are of concern. Could we take the pressure again?

Thankfully, our fears were immediately allayed by the more than cheerful (although not annoyingly so) greeting of our waitress for the evening - Freya. Although promptly shown to a spacious table for four, our wine poured and menus delivered to eager hands, there was no aura of impatience presented, nor annoying reminder that the kitchen was due to close.

To start, the Bloggers ordered garlic bread to share together with a tasting plate consisting of a number of tapas style items tastefully presented with several large wedges of turkish bread. It never ceases to amaze the Beaufort Street Bloggers how often an establishment’s garlic bread can set the tone for the rest of the evening’s food. Dry with little garlic evident and you can be sure it was prepared “earlier”. Soft with just a little toastiness and a reassuring amount of garlic that makes you think you can skip this year’s flu shot and you feel the chef really cares about you. And so you can imagine the delight with which we devoured the near perfect (we’re only young, let us not profess to have found the perfect piece of garlic bread yet) specimen expeditiously presented to us by the lovely Freya.

Next came what was unanimously agreed to be the highlight of the night – Freya’s presentation of the specials on offer at Al Sito that Wednesday.

In particular, special mention must go to the Freya’s description of the Chicken Parmagiana. “… a breast of chicken, lightly crumbed and finished with a tomato sauce and delicate melted cheese”. I know it sounds suspiciously like any other Chicken parma ever offered, but we just wish we could express to you the absolute honest innocence and feeling with which Freya delivered the description of the parmagiana as if it were a n’er before heard of delicacy from some far away exotic land. Even the Sponge, an avid fan and devotee of the chicken parma, said Freya made him feel as though he was living the parma experience for the very first time.

The remaining mains ordered included surf and turf t-bone steak, spaghetti marinara and a salmon pasta dish. All were of reasonable size and whilst served without delay, we were afforded a digestively sufficient space between starters and mains.

Although not usually fans of the dessert course, not even Sponge and the Deliberator could say no to the samplings on offer in Al Sito’s dessert cabinet, although with the decision being a difficult one, we were grateful when the ever accommodating manager offered to prepare a sampling plate for us. By this stage, the Bloggers were the only customers left in the restaurant; however this was something we noticed only by chance. For whilst Al Sito staff quietly went about the business of clearing up the kitchen for the night, we were left to enjoy the final stages of our meal at our leisure.

In summary:

Service: In Perth’s current super-competitive hospitality industry, we truly believe Freya should be paid double and even after she knocked off for the night, the owner/manager was attentive, yet did not try to rush.

Food: Minimal selection, but well cooked reasonable fare.

Ambience: Dim lighting, with a mixture of wood and laminate tables with a large open frontage.

Highlight: Freya and her description of the groundbreaking new dish, chicken parma.

Lowlight: BITO wishing she’d had the guts to ask Freya where she got her hair cut.

Rating: 3.5 lovingly prepared slices of garlic bread out of 5.

Will we be back? Yes. The Sponge has even indicated he wishes to add “Freya” to the shortlist for names for his firstborn.

Details: Around $30 a head including corkage.

Coming up: It’s the Brains’ 28th birthday next week, so we’re heading to Avenue 9 Café, with a few special invitees for the night…...

Al Sito on Urbanspoon