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.

: 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 d├ęcor 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