23 April 2008

Nando's


Unfortunately Inglewood Pizza doesn’t seem to be open on Tuesday nights (nor does it deliver, for reference) and so our plans of knocking out a quick takeaway blog before The Brains’ departure to Dubai on Thursday were thrown into disarray.


In order to maintain our momentum however, it was decided to jump way down the list (and down Beaufort St) to Nando’s. The Sponge was volunteered to collect the meal, giving him a chance to sample the big city lights on the other side of the Walcott Street psychological divide (which, in the ordinary course of things, we are still about 7 or 8 weeks away from achieving).


We do not plan to comment at length on the food at Nando’s – it is hard to believe that anyone in this day and age would still be a Portuguese-style chicken virgin. Suffice to say it is hearty, nourishing food which has a bit of a cult following around these parts.


The BSBs realised the challenge they would face in attempting to rate the chain "restaurants" along Beaufort Street: it was always going to be more a case of what they got wrong rather than how they impressed you.


First the good: pretty solid fare to cure what ails you on a cold rainy Tuesday night. The 12(?) year old behind the counter also did a commendable job in dealing with the throng of Tuesday night chicken lovers and phone orders. And they still do a pretty good chip.


Unfortunately though, despite the Sponge picking up on the fact that they’d left out one of our drinks while still in the establishment, it was only noted upon reaching home again that they had omitted a large bag of chips as well. (The Deliberator took this as a personal affront and threatened to go back and shoot the place up, a la Michael Douglas from Falling Down.) It was noted that this seems to be a common failing of Nando’s – all four BSBs could remember separate instances where they had been short-changed by the big red and green chicken.


The food was also not quite as tasty and fresh as the BSBs recalled (although this might have something to do with the fact that the Sponge had brought the food back on his [large motorbike] in a paper bag lovingly cradled between his feet). Nor was it as lavish a feast as one would expect from a takeaway joint for $45 – both the Sponge and the Deliberator found themselves filling in the corners with toast afterwards. (Mind you, this is a bit like saying that the Grand Canyon still had a bit of room left after dumping in a truckload of sand.)


Despite the Deliberator again doing his plague-of-locusts impression on his chicken bones (which made for compelling, if slightly nauseating, viewing), it was all in all a fairly blah Tuesday night fine-dining experience.

Service: Very capable and friendly, despite appearing to contravene some post-Industrial Revolution child labour laws.

Food: Fulfilled a purpose, despite a certain lack of taste and, well, dishes.

Ambience: The wooden tables and chairs elevate it slightly from your Macca’s or HJ’s, however it is still a chain.

Highlight: BITO’s thigh pack.

Lowlight: We’ve forgotten it already.

Rating: 2.5 missing bags of chips out of 5.

Will we be back? Who are we kidding? Yes.

Details: Call them on (08) 9228 9797. The cost was $11 per head.

Coming up: We are determined to knock over Inglewood Pizza this week – possibly in the absence of The Brains.

18 April 2008

Rembrandt Restaurant


The Beaufort Street Bloggers once spent a weekend Krakow, Poland. We loved the beer, we loved the architecture, we loved the main square, we loved the 4.50am kebab and if this was a travel blog we would share a few stories about a kidnapping, a potential divorce and stumbling upon The Best Nightclub in the World. However, this is a food blog, and we’re talking about Polish food which I must admit, we were not especially wowed by while in Poland. We expected sausages the size of lampposts, roasting pork hocks available on every corner, dumplings with every meal (including breakfast) and enough sauerkraut to turn us off cabbage for life. Instead, we got sensibly proportioned, reasonably healthy, fresh food wherever we went. Sure, we did get to try dumplings and goulash, but we were kind of hoping to drown in the stuff.

Our trip to Rembrandt was therefore one we were most excited about, particularly as The Sponge had circulated the following quote from an internet review of the restaurant only hours before kick off:

“Be warned, the meals are rather large, so turn up with an empty stomach to make sure you find your way to the white of the plate. “

Perfect.

The Beaufort Street Bloggers were joined by the much loved next door neighbours of the Brains and the Sponge, we’ll call them BG and The Shack. BG and The Shack share the BSB’s BYO philosophy – bring more than one bottle of wine per person and drink it all on the premises so you are still there when the staff are stacking the chairs on the tables and sweeping around our feet. Our visit to Rembrandt was no different.

We would be lying if we thought the ambience of the restaurant brought back memories of Poland. Rather, it brought back memories of Year 12 Art, because we are pretty sure the paintings were sourced from the local high school. One of the artists seemed to be going through a difficult ‘monster breathing flame’ phase in their artistic career which we hope was short lived. Having said that, the atmosphere was cheerful and friendly, and we were all packed into a small corner of a giant room which made going to the toilet an impossibility, but was great for ambience.

We ordered a shedload of pierogi (dumplings) and golabki (cabbage rolls) to share as a starter. Of course, The Deliberator had to be a little wild and crazy, and ordered some foul looking rice soup full of weird items like boiled eggs and white sausage. He claims it was delicious. The pierogi were a massive hit, but it was the golabki that took centre stage. The rolls were a combination of a pork mince mixture, wrapped in cabbage leaves, steamed and served with a creamy mushroom sauce. We could have eaten them all day.

A good selection of meat was ordered for mains – pork schnitzel, pork hock, pork sausages and goulash on pancakes. The Brains and BG chose the pork schnitzel, which was perfectly crumbed and fried, and served with a massive selection of goodies including a bean and beetroot salad, sauerkraut and potatoes. The pork sausages were of a more suitable (ie, whopping) proportion than those we had enjoyed in Poland, and BITO bravely made her way through most of them before having to give up the leftovers to the ever-hungry Sponge. The Deliberator and The Shak had the roast pork hock, which we think was the highlight. They were enormous, we can’t imagine how big the pig they came from must be. The meat fell off the bone and there was plenty of potato to mop up the juices with. The Sponge had the pancakes with goulash, and once again, the proportions were apt. The meat was tender, the sauce a blend of …. Polish stuff, and there were many condiments and salads on the side. All in all good solid fare.

BITO and The Brains decided on ordering dessert, and both requested the apple cake and ice cream. Dessert was a bit of a mistake, the apple cake was served cold with a scoop of choc mint ice cream which was just weird. The cake was bland at best, and pretty soggy. We also (hilariously!) ordered a sponge cake for The Sponge (get it?? sponge cake for The Sponge… !!). It was dry and not even worth the $3.50 we spent on it. Never mind, none of us are really dessert fans anyway, we were only there for the meat feast.

The service was friendly, though not very efficient. Bottles of wine were left on the table to get warm and getting someone to take our order took some 30 minutes. However, the waitresses were so warm and so Polish that all sins were immediately forgiven.

In summary


Service: casual & sweet, but despite Poland’s proximity to Germany, that German efficiency has not rubbed off in the Polish service industry.

Food: big portions, simple food which was entirely satisfying and delicious.

Ambience: like a year 12 Art Class, complete with bad paintings, a lino floor and uncomfortable chairs.

Highlight: absolutely everything on the menu looked like something we wanted.

Lowlight: a very average dessert.

Rating
: 3.5 pierogi out of 5.

Will we be back? Yes. It would be perfect on a cold rainy night.

Details: Call them on (08) 9371 9157. There was a $3 corkage charge, but we couldn’t get to the bottom of whether that was per bottle, per person or per table. The cost was $35 per head with BYO wine, a reasonable tip and plenty of meat.

Next week: Inglewood Pizza is next up, please please please let there be more than cheese flavoured pizza on offer.




Rembrandt on Urbanspoon

14 April 2008

Mekong Vietnamese Restaurant

It had been a long time between drinks for the Bloggers – the Asian meal, which had been the corner-stone of their embyonic, pre-Blog Thursday night dinner club, had not yet made an appearance on Beaufort Street (despite some very passable Indian along the way). The Deliberator was sporting a nasty satay-withdrawal rash, and the Sponge had developed a strange facial tick. Mekong was going to have to deliver, and deliver well.

Immediately on walking into the establishment, we knew we were in safe hands: the simple d├ęcor, large 3D tapestry art on the wall and specials-laden whiteboard all screamed to us that we were in line for an authentic Perth-style Vietnamese experience. The only thing missing was the standard Good Luck Cat statue at reception (although its place was ably taken by the largest red tassle ornament that any of us had seen).

By coincidence (and brought on in part by the Deliberator’s signature tardiness), all four Bloggers were starving prior to arrival. This, coupled with the Bloggers’ recent Asian food drought, resulted in the Brains (being the long-established designated orderer at all Asian restaurants) proceeding to put Mekong through its paces by ordering a plethora of old favourites plus a selection of intriguing new dishes.

Starters of stuffed chicken wings, satay sticks, pork and prawn rolls and fried wantons admirably managed to take the edge off (although, and with no disrespect to Mekong, we would gladly have eaten a plate of sheep dags in our famished and emaciated state). This was followed by chilli pepper squid, Saigon-style chicken, Vietnamese pork fillets (big winner) and thick beef curry, accompanied by rice, noodles and Vietnamese bread. (Note: Vietnamese bread looks and tastes exactly like every other bread roll the Bloggers have ever eaten in Perth. Obviously a testament to the proliferation of Vietnamese bakeries in the city.)

Staff were very friendly and attentive, and very quick to bring out food and top up glasses. A lack of spoken English at times only served to enhance the authentic feel (although it could also have contributed to our Saigon duck somehow turning into Saigon chicken between the order pad and the kitchen).

Mekong is BYO wine and beer with no (discernable) corkage. For BITO (now only 5 more blogs off that elusive first post-pregnancy wine and cheese binge), the home-made lemonade proved a winner.

As usual, the Bloggers vastly overdid it on the consumption front, and rolled out of Mekong into the night, fully sated in every respect.

In summary:

Service: Very friendly and attentive.

Food: Ticked all the boxes. The couple of "experimental" dishes ordered were well worth straying off the beaten track for.

Ambience: Authentic Perth-style Vietnamese. The missing Good Luck Cat didn’t seem to have any negative influence on the evening.

Highlight: Would have to be the Vietnamese pork fillets. And reintroducing ourselves to Thursday night Asian.

Lowlight: Being made to leave an Asian restaurant without eating duck.

Rating: 3.5 fried wantons out of 5.

Will we be back? Yes. We have unfinished business with the Saigon duck.

Details: Call them on (08) 9271 4181. The cost was $25 per head with BYO wine and more food than any human should sensibly attempt.


Coming up: After some confusion, next week will be Rembrandt’s.