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.

: 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