28 August 2008

Seven Seas Bar & Restaurant

With the timely arrival of the Mother of Booto from interstate and with it, the much anticipated arrival of a live in babysitter for Stinky, the Bloggers thought it an opportune time to circle back and tick off Da Bruno's from the 2008 Beaufort Street Challenge. As you can imagine, Booto immediately commenced salivating at the mere thought of the vast array of wine that awaited her. Alas, it was not to be. Despite our burgeoning reputation amongst establishments on the Beaufort Street strip, we were unable to secure a Saturday night booking (the Brains showed great restraint in not screaming "Do you know who I am??" down the phone line) and the Deliberator was otherwise engaged on the alternative Friday night.

With Booto desperate not to waste the services of a baby-starved grandmother who was more than happy to see the back of her daughter and enjoy a night of one on one with Stinky, the Bloggers shelved Da Bruno's for another week and returned to the next establishment on the challenge - Seven Seas.

After a quick glass of bubbles at the home of the Brains and the Deliberator, we arrived in good time for our 8.00pm booking. As we waited to be seated, the Brains and Booto duly noted the warm chocolate tones of the venue which was pretty much full - a good sign - and Brains congratulated herself for having made a booking earlier in the week to ensure a good table for the night ahead. Meanwhile, the Deliberator and the Sponge contented themselves with watching the big screen TV showing the Olympics - a bizarre aberration on an otherwise tastefully decorated interior.

Unfortunately, Seven Seas appeared to have lost our booking. Although to their credit, they did attempt to pretend they had not. However, a table directly in a thoroughfare and feeling the full brunt of the draught from the front door is always a dead giveaway!

Nothing could dampen the spirits of Booto however, who promptly called for the cocktail list and ordered her first Cosmopolitan post Stinky. The Sponge and Deliberator followed suit, whilst the Brains contented herself with a bottle of her trademark bubbles.

It was at this point, that it came to the attention of the Bloggers that they were not the only ones out for a big night at Seven Seas. The music was positively booming from the upstairs function room, making it hard to hear and overall, rather distracting. Surely, if you're going to have as function room above your restaurant, one would hope you'd go to the trouble of soundproofing. It seemed not.

However, despite the physical agony the Sponge was in (he's a massive Tom Petty fan and abhors all that "wretched doof doof noise"), the Bloggers focused on the task ahead....

In time honoured tradition, a couple of tasting plates were ordered. The usual foods were represented – including the ubiquitous fried chorizo and kalamata olives, several portions of arancini and some marinated octopus. It was all reasonably tasty but not particularly memorable.

The Sponge, Brains and Deliberator all ordered seafood platters for the main course, before Booto caved into the pressure to conform and thus made it a simple "2 x seafood platters for 2" for the Bloggers.

The "2 x seafood platters for 2" were served in good time which was just as well as the Deliberator was shivering in the draught and the Sponge had refrained from taking his jacket off.

Each platter was generous in size and included a generous mix of:

oysters kilpatrick - so drowned in bacon and worcestershire sauce, they resembled a parmagiana;

crumbed fish - to quote the Sponge: "unnecessary";

chips - always going to get a vote from the Deliberator on this one;

calamari - not melt in your mouth, but not too chewy either; and

whitebait – so crispy they were almost hollow.

Whilst the Bloggers would not rave about the quality of the fare offered, it must be said that Seven Seas do not skimp on quantity. Unfortunately, whilst the Sponge and Deliberator did their best and the Brains and Booto gave it their all, there was more than a little left over for "Mr Manners".

Despite being looked after by both a rather young waiter and a bizarrely dressed waitress (whose attempt at jazzing up her black uniform with some silver appliqué can only be described as plain scary), the Bloggers were duly attended, although all in all, it was hardly service to remember or indeed give much mention to on this blog. There were several instances where the bloggers were left waiting for wine, which was particularly irksome on a Saturday night when the general plan was to get as drunk as possible before midnight.

Despite feeling like falling asleep in our chairs, so full were our stomachs, the Bloggers soldiered on and called for the dessert menu. Whilst the Deliberator and Sponge opted for coffee and a licquer, the Brains and Booto dove right into the chocolate crème brulee and a chocolate sponge pudding. Booto’s brulee was quite delicious but the Brains’ sponge had a strangely familiar texture and taste – one that reminded her of those that came straight from a Betty Crocker packet.

Finally, with the Deliberator announcing he could take the cold draught no longer and the Brains and Booto having to deal with a rather rude punter on the table behind, the Bloggers departed Seven Seas with a rather indifferent feeling. Was it hideous - no. Was it great - equally no.

In summary:

Service: Average, but all the more interesting with the added sparkle to the waitress' uniform.

Food: Okay, but for a specialist seafood restaurant, with a name like Seven Seas, we do expect a little better than a pub standard seafood platter.

Ambience: Lose the party and the music resonating from upstairs and you might have something.

: Booto's cosmopolitan, although after 9 months of abstinence, her judgement tends to lean to the generous side.

Lowlight: Toss up between the party upstairs and being seated at a draughty table.

Rating: 2.5 crumbed frozen fish out of 5

Will we be back: With the high standards set by other seafood restaurants in Perth, probably not.

Details: the bill was higher than expected, although this probably had something to do with the volume of alcohol that was ordered (cocktails were an outrageous $16.00 and a $28 bottle of Cloudy Bay Pelorus was $53). The food was priced as you would expect, about $82 for a seafood platter for 2. You can call them on 9370 3030, or visit their poorly designed website on www.thesevenseas.com.au.

07 August 2008

Tombstone Mexican Restaurant

While the title of this blog would indicate that it is about all things Beaufort Street (and, well, it is), we thought we would comment quickly on a little gem the BSBers stumbled across last week.

Tombstone on Walcott Street (which incidentally intersects Beaufort, lending a skerrick of legitimacy to this post) had been regularly carpet-bombing the area with pamphlets announcing their arrival and various specials. Booto, Stinky and the Sponge found themselves at a loose end last Thursday (having been passed over by the balance of the BSBers in favour of bridesmaid duties and general tooling around respectively) and accordingly decided to see what these paper-wasters were all about.

Tombstone is an eclectic place – set up in the former grand foyer of the Menora Theatre, it shares premises with a squash court (though you would be none the wiser for it until needing to use the loo). While ostensibly billing itself as Mexican, the interior is a garish mix of a dozen competing themes and styles, from Clint Eastwood posters to a large screen showing early-80s dance clips to 50s diner-type booths along the walls, all overhung with the ornate drapery and trimmings left over from its cinematic days.

Like the surrounds, the service was excellent because of, rather than in spite of, its unpolished edge. Staff and owner were very attentive – noticing the Sponge’s predilection for all things hopped and frothy, the owner made a point of offering him a particular new beer from the owner’s personal stash. He also very politely, but firmly, steered Booto away from the super-hot burrito sauce, a fact she was most thankful for as the "medium" proceeded to melt her fillings…

Which leads us to the food: Despite a Mexican theme running through the menu (with the standard burritos, enchiladas, nachos etc on offer), there are plenty more traditional meat and other options for those not willing to venture south of the border. Shared chilli con carne dip was very tasty, Booto’s beef burrito was tender and spicy, and the Sponge’s meal had to be seen to be believed: the $28 surf’n’turf steak procured a delightfully large and tender steak, a mound of garlic mussels, prawns and scallops, a log cabin of wedges and a side salad.

Stinky, sated with milk, slept through proceedings and only roused now and then to flatulate his approval.

In all, Tombstone is the ideal place to come for a cheap and casual meal with a bunch of friends intending to eat and drink the evening away.

In summary:

Service: Went above and beyond.

Food: Fantastic quality and value Mexican/steakhouse fare.

Ambience: Dizzying. Despite sitting there for 2 hours, we still can’t tell you.

Highlight: The surf’n’turf (seriously, has anyone ever seen scallops on a steak before?)

Lowlight: Not entirely sure what it wanted to be (not convinced this is necessarily a lowlight though)

Rating: 4.2 distended bellies out of 5.

Will we be back? Hell yes, with an appetite, a thirst and a table full of like-minded punters.

Details: Tombstone is at 344 Walcott St, and can be contacted on 9443 8888 or email at michaelriseley@hotmail.com. 2 (enormous) courses and 2-3 drinks each cost around $80 total. (We defy our readers to produce tales of better value!) Tombstone is fully licensed, and offers an array of dazzlingly cheap margaritas and assorted treats.

04 August 2008

Sunshine Lunch Bar Cafe

While the bloggers were unable to get out for their weekly dinner last week, The Deliberator and The Brains did have a Beaufort Street experience worth discussing. The Deliberator and The Brains had a meeting outside of the city / West Perth precinct they are usually confined to. This was fantastic news for them because sometimes they think that if they are forced to eat one more Croissant Express Frozwich (and the Brooklyn is usually the preferred choice) or one more large sushi roll mix they would simply collapse and die. An outside-of-the-CBD lunch (even though it would be had on the run) was just what they needed.

As both The Brains and the Deliberator are lawyers (we don’t think we’re giving too much away here), they were very familiar with the lunching options surrounding the section of Beaufort Street near Walcott Street. This is because in their first year of lawyering, all Perth lawyers need to attend an offsite course called ‘Articles Training Program’ which is located on Alvan Street in Mount Lawley, directly behind the set of shops around Diva Café. ATP is a godsend to most young lawyers – it starts at 9.00, finishes at 4.00 and has about 5 coffee/tea/smoko/lunch/rest breaks during the day. And it gives everyone a chance to eat an Antonio’s continental roll 4 or 5 times a week. However, it was not Antonio’s that The Deliberator and The Brains were after on this day, rather, it was the little-known (and not open on weekends), Sunshine Lunch Bar Café.

The Sunshine Lunch Bar Café is essentially a Vietnamese run sandwich bar. You can also get your usual lunch time staples there, like Mrs Macs pies and probably even Chicko Rolls. The sandwich section itself does not look like anything special, and really, the Sunshine Lunch Bar Café would not be out of place in Welshpool, Osborne Park or any other highly populated suburb that requires many corner lunch bars for workers. The difference between those lunch bars and the Sunshine Lunch Bar lies in Sunshine’s Vietnamese and Asian roll specialty.

The Hot Asian roll is one of the finest Perth sandwich experiences around – it consists of that type of a bread roll you would typically find at a Vietnamese bakery, 2 pork fillets, which are heated up in the sandwich maker (to give you a picture, the pork fillets are about the same size and shape as the chicken fillets you get from Subway), shaved carrot and cucumber, onion, chilli sauce, coriander and ‘special mayonnaise’. It sounds like a ridiculous combination but it is really quite wonderful. The Vietnamese Roll is similar, except it is not hot, the meat is less identifiable and it comes with what can only be described as Vietnamese pate.

If anyone has been to Vietnam they will have seen vendors make exactly these types of rolls on the street. They are called Banh Mi (or something), and look just like the one in the picture. On a trip to Saigon, The Brains and The Deliberator spent 4 days looking for every Banh Mi vendor in the city to try their wares. Sure, the pate was generally fly-blown, the meat had been sitting in the tropical sun for 8 or 9 hours, and the vegetables were old and wilted, but this combination somehow came together to produce a delight so fabulous that The Brains and The Deliberator continued to sample Banh Mi everywhere it was available in Perth. The Sunshine Café Lunch Bar, in our opinion, has the best one around, and for a ridiculously low low price. You can also get pretty good ones (which are a bit more authentically unhygenic looking) from Lucky Importer Exporter in Brisbane Street, Northbridge.

In summary:

Service: No fuss and super friendly.

Food: Can’t say enough good things about the Asian rolls, but we cannot vouch for anything else.

Ambience: Similar to a Leach Highway truck stop.

Highlight: The ‘special mayonnaise’.

Lowlight: We wouldn’t know. Although not opening on weekends is a shame.

Rating: 4 Banh Mi out of 5.

Will we be back? Yep, but only if we ever get out there again on a weekday.

Details: Call them on (08) 9370 1165. 3 rolls and a couple of cokes cost far less than $20. The café is located in the same set of shops as Bliss Noodle Bar, Hanami, Subway and the Cheesecake Shop.