05 June 2009

Little Saigon

Booto and the Sponge, having known the Deliberator for far too long, made a booking at Little Saigon for 8.00, but wisely told the Deliberator the reservation was for 7.30. As 7.30 approached, Booto and the Sponge casually went about their business, attending to Stinks and discussing their pre-dinner snifter (‘was this the $5 white from the Re Store?’, ‘oh, no no no, this one was $7.80 from Dan Murphy’s… so don’t quaff it, enjoy the fine flavours and sip slowly woman’). However, for possibly the first time in the Deliberator’s 1.5 year history of Beaufort Street Blogging, the Deliberator was home, dressed, shoed, washed, texting the others furiously and ready for action by 7.20. This left Booto, the Sponge and the Brains in a never-before-experienced situation. They were going to be early.

On arrival at Little Saigon, the Bloggers were happy to discover their pre-booked table ready to go, complete with a high chair for Stinks. Booto, the Brains and Stinks happily sorted themselves out while the Deliberator and the Sponge went across the road to the Merchant for more of their favourite cheap piss. During their absence, our fabulous waitress made all the appropriate looks, sounds and movements in front of Stinky to keep Stinks well pleased with himself for the next 2.5 hours.

Entrees arrived and they were tremendous. We ordered 2 serves of prawn and potato cakes, 1 serve of stuffed chicken wings and 2 serves of rice-paper rolls with hot (hot!) beef. The prawn and potato cakes are outstanding – shredded sweet potato wrapped around a huge, plump prawn and deep fried till crisp. There’s so much surface area on these things that there must be about 4 tablespoons of oil in each one, which makes ordering them very worthwhile. The stuffed chicken wings were not the monsters we’re used to, but were far more flavoursome than their Viet Hoa or Phi Yen counterparts. And fresh rice paper rolls with steaming hot crispy beef? Heaven. We really wanted to try the stuffed squid but couldn’t justify more food – could someone please try it and let us know how it is?

While we smashed our entrées and bottles of cheap wine numbers 1 and 2, we watched other people’s mains pass us by, until one looked so fantastic we stopped the waitress on her way out the kitchen and asked what it was. It was the old Vietnamese favourite, lemongrass and chilli chicken, but it was done better than anywhere else we could recall. For mains we also chowed down on a plate of lightly deep friend salt and pepper squid (fast becoming a benchmark we use to compare all Beaufort Street eateries) which was perfect, pork with anchovy sauce (amazing ribs cooked in that pan-Asian method - being grill the shit out the food, add salt, serve), goat curry (which was delicious, but a bit sinewey and tripey, and loaded with cloves, and although we consider ourselves adventurous, apart from the Deliberator we are all a bit more Caucasian than we’d like to think when it comes to food preferences), and finally, on a crazy and embarrassing whim, mixed vegetables. All in all outstanding Vietnamese cuisine.

And now to the service. What a delight. The fellow who took our order was charming, courteous and ever-so-friendly. And our waitress, who turned out to be the chef’s sister, quickly fell in love with Stinky (and who wouldn’t?). Stinky got cuddles, kisses, 2 trips to the kitchen to meet the chef, a couple of photos with the waitress and even a free Vietnamese desert.

Our meals came out in good time, we were quickly supplied with the 5 or 6 ice buckets we needed, the Sponge smashed a glass which was swiftly swept up and replaced with a minimum of fuss (he also managed to smash another one later that evening on the Balcony of Broken Dreams. This time, with the Deliberator as the host, there was a maximum amount of fuss and a refusal to replace, leaving poor old Sponge drinking straight from the bottle for the rest of the evening) and smiles all round from the wait staff.

In summary:

Service: A joy. Particularly thanks to the due appreciation the staff showed for Stinky’s fine looks and impeccable behaviour.

Food: Really really good, flavoursome, fresh Vietnamese food.

Ambience: A cosy restaurant lit with pretty Vietnamese silk lanterns. The Aerosmith CD was an dd choice though.

Highlight: Definitely the crispy potato cakes with prawns.

Lowlight: Nothing really. While the goat curry didn’t float our boat (except the Deliberator's), it was an ordering problem, not a cooking problem.

Rating: 4.4 goi cuon out of 5.

Will we be back: Absolutely. It’s a perfect place to take parents too – good food, not too noisy and it’s not grimy and plasticy like the Vietnamese restaurants in Northbridge (and no disrespect to those places, we love them, but we know the older generation sometimes struggle with them).

Details: Little Saigon is located at 489 Beaufort St, and can be contacted by phone on 9227 5586. Reservations are strongly recommended. 3 good sized entrees and 4 mains plus vegetables and rice came to a low low $35 a head.

Little Saigon on Urbanspoon

29 May 2009

Veritas Restaurant

It is hard for the Bloggers to imagine there even was a time before the BSB – it feels like we have been tramping up and down this bloody road for decades, much like Kane from Kung Fu. Or the Littlest Hobo. Or Michael Landon from Highway to Heaven.

However, many years ago in the pre-BSB dreamtime, the Bloggers (then just 3 friends and the Deliberator) dined at Veritas and were gravely disappointed. The food was a standout, however lingering delays (ie. dining at 10:30pm after an 8pm booking) and woeful service marred the occasion. Not to be dissuaded, the Bloggers visited Veritas last week in their professional capacity. (The real Bloggers that is – see comments under the Beaufort Street Merchant review.)

This time, it was our turn to keep Veritas waiting - our 8pm booking turned into 8:45pm by the time the Deliberator had got his pants on. We had phoned ahead to warn of our impending tardiness, but were still a little ticked off when the waitress on our arrival told us that the kitchen was closing so we’d better hurry up and order. We were also told not to expect any specials whatsoever, as they’d sold out of everything due to demand (which demand was not then evident, there being only 3 other occupied tables).

Unperturbed, we assumed our places. And immediately noticed that Veritas is a very stylish joint – great décor and art, with the wine menu occupying an entire wall a standout. We were also quite fond of the couch-like seats we occupied. (Alanah McTiernan, sitting next table, appeared to be enjoying hers too.) Our orders were taken (quickly), at which point the waiter (owner?) gave us a very knowing rundown of the ingredients and method of preparation of each dish we’d ordered. This rundown did became a little overbearing as it unfolded. And unfolded. Still we were glad for the attention. The waitress too showed an intimate knowledge of both food and wine when quizzed, and answered our dumb-ass questions with aplomb.

On to the food: starters consisted of shared plates of squid, anchovies in tomato sauce and bread. And were f*cking good. The squid was perfectly weighted, and we’ve had to open a new category of "Best Anchovies on Beaufort St" just so that we could anoint this batch as the winner.

Mains were a marinated chicken dish with a "special kind of salad" (Booto), lamb served with "a delicious pumpkin stack which I really enjoyed" (Brains), very nicely done steak portions (Sponge) and little dainty goat cutlets (Deliberator). Actually, the Deliberator was a little disappointed with his, only on the basis that every goat he has eaten previously still has a bell hanging around its neck, but we thought it looked amazing. In any event, the obligatory "pattatini for the table" were "some of the best chips [the Deliberator has] eaten".

All this was washed down with a very nice temperanillo and a chardonnay (both recommended by our waitress), however we did feel that the wine list could have contained a couple more reasonably priced options (both reds and whites tending to start at around $45-$50).
We declined coffee and desert (in favour of a small nightcap at Must, which boded well for our impending visit there), and were left to mop up at our leisure.

Price came in at around $75 a head for shared starters, mains and wine. We would certainly say the food and ambience warranted the price, however think that there were still sufficient rough edges to not quite justify Veritas charging at the top end of the market (eg. the sometimes hit-and-miss service, the unwashed hair and old cargo pants sported by the front of house guy – please take this as constructive criticism!)

Mind you, with the food and layout as good as it was, something is very wrong in the world when Martino is only charging $20 less per head (without taking into account that we’d also BYO’ed there) - wake up Martino!

In summary:

Service: After a shaky beginning, service was good. And while the informative, but lengthy, interruptions weren’t always the most well-timed, we appreciated the effort and preferred them to the alternative of being ignored (as happened on our last visit).

Food: Top notch. Current holder of "Best Anchovies on Beaufort Street" title.

Ambience: Small and intimate, and immaculately decked out. (Toilets could do with a little polish though.)

Highlight: The starters – the squid and anchovy combo were exceptional.

Lowlight: The top-heavy wine list. And the cargo pants.

Rating: 3.8 succulent anchovies out of 5.

Will we be back: Possibly, however with Must just across the road, and (appearing to) offer the same thing for the same price, but done slightly better, it will be tough.

Details: Veritas is located at 484 Beaufort St, and can be contacted by phone on 9227 9745.

Veritas on Urbanspoon

27 May 2009

Caffe Martino

With Stinks in tow on this particular Thursday night, the Bloggers decided to avail themselves of a family orientated cheap pasta night at Caffe Martino.

It must be said we held no lofty expectations as we departed home with our usual 12 bottles of BYO wine. The night was a little breezy and the prospect of some good solid Italian food to warm the cockles was sitting well with the Bloggers.

Martino’s was relatively empty for a Thursday night on Beaufort Street and the Bloggers were seated with a minimum of fuss, complete with high chair for Stinks, who was more than a little excited at being allowed to stay up later than usual.

The menus presented by Martino were typical, with nothing terribly exciting or new catching the eye of any of the Bloggers (and we do know the Deliberator does peruse a menu at least three times over per visit). Starters ordered included squid, Italian sausage and garlic bread. Boring perhaps, yet in the Bloggers’ opinion, the simplicity of such dishes can be a great yardstick when measuring the worth of any Italian restaurant.

It was at this stage that the cracks began to show. There was no lemon served with either the Italian sausage or the squid. The garlic bread was dry and overcooked, although BOOTO was able to salvage small pieces to feed to Stinks, who it must be said is not fussy about what he eats (having come nightmarishly close to eating a cockroach recently).

Mains ordered included 2 x chicken parmagianas (the Sponge and Deliberator of course), Gnocchi (Brains), the fish of the day (BOOTO) and of course, the obligatory bowl of chips for the table.

Brains’ gnocchi was well presented and although she’s had fresher pasta, all in all the dish was bland, but satisfactory. The Sponge and Deliberator could also make no certain complaints with regards the chicken parma, although given it is a dish they regular partake of, they were well able to declare that it “okay”. Breaths were held in anticipation of BOOTO’s fish of the day (salmon), however this was soon replaced with disappointment. The term “home made” can conjure up images of a real Italian experience, but in this instance, home made came in the form of a plate of grilled salmon and slightly wilted salad (minus any dressing). Being someone who keeps on top of her omega 3 intake, BOOTO was, to say the least, quite disappointed with the lack of flair shown in this dish – with a price tag of $37.00, one does expect a little of evidence of effort.

Now as you read this review, you may be excused for thinking the Bloggers had set their expectations too high prior to dining at Caffe Martino, but indeed we had not. We were quite ready for the Sienna style no frills cheap pasta night and although we do think a little lemon with the entrees ordered together with a drizzle of dressing on one’s salad or even the offer of cracked pepper and parmesan cheese is not too much to ask of a restaurant (particularly when you consider this restaurant was more than half empty on this given Thursday night), it was upon presentation of the bill that we realised Caffe Martino has a very high opinion of itself.

For the night’s decidedly average food, we were met with the sort of figure you come to expect when having dined on tasty, inventive food in ambient surrounds that appear to have been redecorated in the last 15 – 20 years. Alas, the Bloggers had dined at Caffe Martino and paid the princely sum of $50.00 a head for shared starters and pretty basic mains.

In summary

Service: Not bad, but then again the place was half empty. Points off however for not offering either cracked pepper or parmesan. We must note however that despite being the last patrons in the restaurant, we were not hurried along.

Food: Just “okay”. Nothing set the world on fire and old favourites were not done exceptionally well either. The Bloggers could probably forgive this if the prices were reflective of the quality of the food.

Ambience: Outdated décor with a very family feel to it (i.e. you wouldn’t get worried about Stinks spilling food on the floor or making too much noise).

Highlight: The bowl of chips were much to the liking of both the Deliberator and Stinky. But even they came in at a princely sum of $8 for McCains quality. No hand cut chips here.

Lowlight: The prices.

Rating: 2.5 not so cheap fish of the day out of 5

Will we be back: Probably not. There are many family friendly, reasonably priced Italian restaurants in the area with much better food than that offered at Caffe Martino.

Details: Caffe Martino is situate at 550 Beaufort St Mt Lawley WA 6050 and is open from Monday to Saturday for dinner from 6pm to 11pm. Bookings can be made on (08) 9328 4400.

Caffe Martino on Urbanspoon

16 April 2009

Mykonos Greek Restaurant

To be on the safe side, the Brains thought she’d ring Mykonos to book a suitable table for the Bloggers. The friendly waiter told her that 8.00pm would be fine, and confirmed that he would put a table aside, close to the footpath, with plenty of space for Stinky’s pram.

At 7.45, the Bloggers quickly popped into the Beaufort Street Merchant, picked up 4 bottles of their new favourite cheap Chardonnay and a 6 pack of beers, and set off across the road to enjoy a whole lot of meat, a shitload of chips and something, anything, with garlic sauce. We were very much looking forward to Greek grilled meat feast.

On arrival it was clear that no table had been put aside. Interestingly our names were on their booking sheet, but there were just no tables available. So, our Greek waitress (cleverly disguised as a Japanese backpacker) directed us to the shitty mezzanine floor that’s decorated like a State prison and furnished like a 1960s bus port.

And, alone, from our lofty position high above the humming crowd at Mykonos, we waited. And continued to wait. And for 15 minutes we received none of the following:

1. service

2. wine cooler

3. bottle opener

4. cutlery

5. wine glasses

6. menus

So, we walked downstairs and fetched another Greek waitress, this one in ingeniously disguised as a Chinese English student, and asked her to help us out with the 5 items listed above, as all we had so far were 3 tumblers. After a couple more trips downstairs, and another 15 minutes, we procured ourselves 4 mismatched wine glasses and some menus. The menus were interesting, a half a page of the menu was dedicated entirely to setting out the strict terms and conditions attached to ordering, eating, paying, drinking, etc - like we were entering into some sort of Deed of Eternal Disappointment.

Items 1 to 4 never arrived, leaving the Deliberator and the Sponge to crack open their beers using the side of the chipboard table we were sitting at, and Bito and the Brains drinking wine that was positively sweating.

After reviewing the terms and conditions on the menu, we ordered the trusty tasting plate for entrée, with a large portion of calamari. The pickled octopus on the platter (a team favourite) wasn’t bad, and the dips were fine and the calamari was crispy and fresh. Everything else was a greasy, cold, oily mess. There was also a lot of garnish dressed up as salad on the plate, which was largely inedible and a giant waste of space.

When our mains arrived, we hadn’t finished the platter, so the Sino-Hellenic waitress simply popped our mains ON TOP of our platter and entrée plates. This was quite stunning, and something we’ve never seen before.

It’s hard for us to discuss the mains themselves as they were completely and utterly inedible – and generally, we eat anything. We each left meat on the plate, and plenty of it. This has never ever happened before to the Deliberator and the Sponge. But really, the food was foul. The meat could have been used as a shotput, the spices were completely wrong, the fish was ok, but only just, and the sauces lacked any flavour whatsoever. All in all, it was unbelievably, horribly bad. Which was very strange considering we’d all had very passable kebabs from Mykonos in the past.

We eventually went downstairs to pay the bill. By now, we were unhappy, spiteful and really really pissed off. And to just really hammer home the general shithouse nature of the night, we were charged double the corkage for the privilege of us getting our own wine glasses, and having our wine left sweltering in its paper bags on the table all night. Mykonos, if you’re reading this, you are by far and away the worst restaurant we’ve reviewed on Beaufort Street for service, produce and cooking. At least the Peking Chinese Restaurant had the Chinese Dragon counter.

In summary:

Service: We had a waitress come up twice in 2 hours – once to deliver the entrée, and once to deliver the mains. We were otherwise completely left to our own devices.

Food: So bad its outrageous. And what’s with all the good reviews on eatingwa.com?

Ambience: While the mezzanine floor is awful, the rest of the restaurant has a cheerful, casual Greek-restaurant style ambience.

Highlight: The new curse-words we invented to describe the food. And the calamari wasn’t bad.

Lowlight: Everything else.

Rating: half a lamb kofta (although only beef kofta is available at Mykonos) out of 5.

Will we be back? Sadly, we probably will end up buying more kebabs from Mykonos. But we’ve promised each other to try our best not to.

Details: It’s not even that cheap – about $40 a head for crap. We won’t bother you with a phone number, as we strongly suggest you don’t go. Oh, and it is also worth mentioning that the owner has appeared in the local rag a few times over the last few weeks for allegedly not letting a guide dog in the premises.

Mykonos Kebabs on Urbanspoon

01 April 2009

The Beaufort Street Merchant

It had been a while since the bloggers had managed to get together for their Thursday night fix. Booto, Stinks and the Sponge had been gallivanting around the South-West, having every whim attended to by the staff at the Bunker Bay Resort. For Stinks, that meant somebody had to blow a raspberry on his stomach every minute on the minute. For Booto on the Sponge, it was a fresh bottle of wine every hour on the hour. Meanwhile, the Brains and the Deliberator went on a 5 day long eating challenge in the far east, where their fabulous hosts managed to stuff them with dim sum on a daily basis, plus all you can eat mussels, all you can drink gin and tonics and all you can watch amateur cricket.

When the bloggers read that one of their favourite businesses, the Beaufort Street Merchant, was opening for dinner, we soon decided that it would be the perfect opportunity to swap stories on how much squiz we had consumed, how many meals we’d had and how much weight we managed to put on throughout our respective vacations (which, on average, in the relevant units, per person per day was 14, 5 and 1).

The Merchant is a wonderful venture. The staff are friendly and fun, the produce excellent, the beer and wine plentiful and varied, the tunes always top notch and the furniture suitably eclectic. We've always known this so we were very keen to try it out for dinner.

On arrival, we were excited to be told that we could choose anything we wanted to drink from the bottle shop out the back, and the staff would open it and pour it on our request for a low low $5.00. The Deliberator and the Sponge put their hands up to do the all important boozy choosing, and ended up being away for around three quarters of an hour while they squabbled over the appropriate beer to purchase. They ended up buying one bottle of virtually every beer available, plus 1 bottle of French sparkling, and 2 bottles of Sav Blanc. Of course, this was never going to be enough, so they organised a second purchase of 3 bottles of clean skins to get us through the main course. And, as an aside, the cleanskin reserve chardonnay at $11 per bottle is some of the best value for money wine going around town. A blind taste of that stuff and you would swear you’re drinking Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay (almost).

Finally, after the Choosing Of The Booze and subsequent pouring, we sat at our lovely roomy table with our friendly flickering tea light and got down to the menu. It was a short but well put together menu with ‘something for everyone’. Gordon Ramsey would be proud. Of course, we had to start with the grazing platter which, for $22, was excellent value. The platter came beautifully presented on a large bread board and contained such delights as Danish feta, chorizo, catalan tomatoes and loads of crusty bread. We also had a cheeky serve of bread and balsamic and olive oil, which was a steal at $4 as the bread was perfect.

To the mains. The Sponge and the Brains wisely chose the meatballs ($17) – the meatballs were perfection – cooked in a thick, fresh tomato sauce and served with a mound of bread, they were some of the finest meatballs man could make. Booto went for the Thai chicken salad ($17.50). It was a generous serve of salad – spinach, tomatoes, cashes, avocado and snow peas, with an equally generous serve of beautifully marinated chicken breast. The chicken had a coconut flavour that was complemented very well by the salad dressing. It clearly demonstrated great attention to detail. The Deliberator had an equally appealing pie ($20) – 5 hour braised beef (amaaazing), mushroom and Guinness served with potato gratin, savoy cabbage and a little jug of gravy. Unfortunately, there was not enough gravy in that little jug for the Deliberator’s liking. Fortunately, our waiter immediately picked up on the distress on the Deliberator’s face and within seconds produced a second jug of gravy. The pie, after that, was perfection.

We finished of the night with a couple more glasses of wine (served in our favourite Riedel stemless wine glasses), a long macchiato, an espresso and the last four tiny cakes left in the store. The long mac was not quite right – it should have been a lot stronger – but this is a small issue in an otherwise seamless evening. An evening made even better by being able to pick up a cold bottle of tonic on the way out for some late night G&T’s on the veranda.

In summary:

Service: Our waiter, Tyson, was wonderful. Everyone went out of their way to help us. And the best thing about the service? It’s very relaxed without the rules that piss us off so much about so many places. Extra sides? no problem. Another jug of gravy? on its way. More beer? here it is. You wanna stay for more wine? stay as long as you like.

Food: Tremendous. Fresh, simple, generous and home-style. Could not ask for more.

Ambience: While a Simply Red CD was playing at one stage, we realised it must have been played in irony, so it was perfectly acceptable. The atmosphere is friendly and casual and the décor is perfect.

Highlight: The bottleshop/corkage set up and the divine food. Oh, and on the corkage, the menu says it's $5, but we were only charged $3. And that's one flat charge, no matter how many bottles you buy.

Lowlight: The long mac.

Rating: 4.7 crusty loaves out of 5.

Will we be back? In a heartbeat.

Details: You know where the Merchant is. You can book on 9328 6833, and we suggest that pretty soon it will become very wise to book in advance. The Merchant is open 7 days til late (there’s no feeling of being rushed out here). Our total food bill came to around $100 (excellent value), and drinks is another story. But that was our fault for buying one of basically everything they had.

The Beaufort Street Merchant on Urbanspoon

03 March 2009

The Pony Club

As you enter the surrounds of "The Pony Club" situated at 620 Beaufort Street, Mount Lawley, you are immediately struck by how right they have got the decor - the mix of rich striped fabrics and minimalist furniture works surprisingly well with the OTT chandeliers and traditional architectural features of this period building. Given that the Brains and BOOTO spend somewhere in the region of 10% of their annual taxable income on interior design and decorating magazines, you can imagine that, coupled with the oh so right level of lighting for those who regularly "over do it", the Pony Club started ticking their boxes right from the get go.

Seated by a rather familiar looking waiter (the Brains and BOOTO may have completely overstayed their welcome, drinking well past closing time a couple of years ago, but that is another story entirely..), we were given menus, had our water glasses poured and drink orders taken promptly. The Sponge and Deliberator (never ones to stick to the rules) ordered margaritas. Thankfully, the Brains and BOOTO stuck to the theme and went for a jug of Sangria.

Turning to the menus, it was interesting to note the heading "The Pony Club a little taste of Spain using the fresh ingredients of Australia". Pulses began to race. The Deliberator, Sponge and BOOTO had eaten and drank their way around Spain in the pre-Brains and Stinky eras. Thoughts of whitebait, chorizo, croquetas and patatas bravas sent the saliva glands into overdrive. But alas as our eyes travelled down the Spanish (with helpful English translations) menu, we were saddened to note the lack of simple traditional tapas dishes. As those smiles turned upside down however, the drinks arrived and as often happens when the Bloggers meet anything alcoholic, it was smiles all round again. Even the overwhelming strange taste of cloves in the Sangria (something never before experienced by BOOTO - a well seasoned Sangria consumer), could not deter us.

And so the fun began.............

We ordered copious amounts of food (at times helpfully directed by the wait staff) and sometimes the same dish twice. And whilst the Sponge is loathe to stray far from his favourite staple of squid, dishes devoured by the Bloggers included:

pulpo abobado marinated octopus with jarrah smoked tomatoes

el pan bollo in house baked multigrain rolls (a ridiculously expensive 3.50 each!)

crespones de calabaza pumpkin crepes with brown sage butter

(The conversation at this stage went something like...
BOOTO: better than sex
Sponge: WHAT?
Deliberator: Oh BOOTO, you need to get yourself a real man
Brains: What? Like you? Huh!
BOOTO: Does anyone mind if I lick the plate?)

la carne crudo wagyu eye fillet with sangria jelly & baby cress
albondigas venison pork duck meatballs

abalone empanadas Albany abalone pies with cherry tomato salsa (second only to the pumpkin crepes because we had to endure the Deliberator professing his sublime skills as an abalone fisherman during this dish)

salmon curado Mt Cook blood orange cured salmon with baby chicory and broad beans
trucha arcoiris smoked Manjimup rainbow trout with artichoke hearts and citrus foam ( the presentation on this dish made it almost too pretty to eat. But eat we did).

plancha calameres grilled chilli squid with tomato and aioli (well we had to have it in order to shut the Sponge up)

pastelillos de chorizo de carne de venado venison chorizo and quail egg tartlets with mojo pico (had to order this - it was the only dish featuring chorizo - but please don't ask us what mojo pico is).

Phew - looking back on it, we're almost ashamed to release this review, lest we become the subject of the latest biased obesity study featured on Today Tonight.

It must be noted that as the meal progressed, the Sponge and Deliberator's penchant for margaritas subsided and soon not even the Brains could be enthusiastic at the Sangria that contained far too many shades of mulled wine to be drank at length. So it was to the beer and wine list which was ample, but pricey.

The Bloggers do so wish we could comment on the Postres (desserts) offered by the Pony Club, however we're sure you'll understand that in endeavouring to bring to you a substantial review of the Pony Club's tapas menu, we were far to stuffed to try dessert. Besides which, Stinky was being babysat and the Deliberator and Brains' "Balcony of Broken Dreams", complete with booze fridge beckoned...................

In summary:

Service: Friendly, guiding us well as to the better dishes to order. However, it was not quite as super slick and all knowing as the service we've had at Duende, which we think is a reasonable comparison in terms of both price and dining style.

Food: If you're after traditional style Spanish tapas, then continue your search elsewhere. However, the food is fresh, different and will take you out of your comfort zone.

Ambience: Pretty perfect, although as with all restaurants with floorboards, the acoustics can become a bit much when full.

Highlight: The pumpkin crepes.

Lowlight: Sangria (and for BOOTO waking up to Stinky at 6am after a night on the Balcony of Broken Dreams).

Rating: 3.5 abalone empanadas out of 5

Will we be back: Maybe if someone organises a dinner there. We don't have too much to complain of, but our overall impression of The Pony Club is just a an unexciting good. It's a bit like a "nice" boy. He's probably not going to get a second date unless you're desperate, let alone become your boyfriend. It's also crazy expensive when you have 4 diners with enormous appetites.

Details: The Pony Club is a hop, skip and a jump from the Walcott Street intersection (city side) and is fully licensed, although do have BYO nights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The tapas dishes soon add up and the bill came to approximately $100 per head. Bookings came be made on (08) 9228 8801.

Pony Club on Urbanspoon

25 February 2009

Diva Café Mt Lawley

So, here is the Diva review that has been so long coming. Unfortunately, it was that long ago that none of us really remember it, so we consider this to be one of the weakest reviews so far. Sorry about that.

What we do remember follows. The night was warm, and we had young Stinky in tow. Upon arrival, and looking into the long, skinny, multi-layered restaurant, we realised that Stinky’s pram was going to be a tough squeeze. The waitresses helpfully navigated a path and set up a table at the back, giving us plenty of room. (Unfortunately this was located in the highest part of the restaurant right next to the kitchen, meaning it was hotter than Kelly le Brock in Weird Science (although not quite as hot as that French chick out of Braveheart).)

Stinky proceeded to vent his appreciation by fidgeting and farting around for the next hour, preventing Booto from achieving the state of wine-induced nirvana as quickly as she might have liked.

The night was also memorable for the fact that the Deliberator announced what he was having for both starter and main within 90 seconds of sitting down. The other Bloggers without hesitation drove a wooden stake through the heart of this imposter, whereupon the real Deliberator made an appearance and began acting like his trademark puerile self for the remainder of the evening.

As per usual, when we reached into Stinky’s nappy bag and the back of his pram to pull out a bottle of wine each, the bottles were left sitting on our table, warming up in the hot night. We’ve grown so used to the fact that people don’t offer to put wine in the fridge or bring out an icebucket that this has basically stopped being a complaint.

Food consisted of a very passable tasting platter (of course) and pizza to start, followed by a tomato/salmon pasta (Sponge), Moroccan lamb salad (Booto), another anonymous pasta (Brains) and a steak (Deliberator). Oh, and a trough of chips. (Diva does a "cheap" pizza and pasta menu during the week, which offers some pretty good value.)

Service was very helpful and friendly (particularly considering our various impairments), although the food was not overly quick to arrive and those wine bottles continued to sit there sweating.

In summary:

Service: Young and enthusiastic.

Food: Good size portions and better than expected. (Sorry for doubting you, Diva.)

Ambience: The people down below and out the front seemed to be enjoying it, from where we sat in our lofty sweatbox.

Highlight: The platter was pretty good from memory.

Lowlight: Warm booze. And Stinky’s belligerence.

Rating: 3.5 warm sweaty arm-pits out of 5.

Will we be back: Conceivably. Diva ticked all the right boxes, without any particular chutzpah.

Details: Diva is over the road from the (now defunct) Astor. Food was fairly reasonable, and came out at around $40 a head including corkage. Contact them on (08) 9371 9971

Next up: We spent some serious coin at the Pony Club recently, we'll let you know what we thought soon...

Diva Cafe on Urbanspoon

08 January 2009

Siena's Mt Lawley Pizzeria and Café

Siena’s is not particularly well-regarded among food lovers as a decent place to eat. The Bloggers’ view is no exception, previous visits (which took place many years ago) have been uninspiring – bland food, average service, mass produced pasta with little love or attention to detail. However, we had to go to Siena’s with an open mind, and we were prepared to be surprised.

To make the experience more palatable, it was decided that takeaway Siena’s might be better than dine-in Siena’s. Not sure how this reasoning developed, but it seemed logical at the time. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that Siena’s was not worth a baby-sitter for Stinky.

Our first experience was in placing the order. Helpfully, Siena’s has a good website listing its full menu. We love this, more restaurants should devote time and energy to setting up a website, particularly casual-dining places which do takeaway. The average office worker spends fucking hours on the internet, loves to be immediately informed and doesn’t really want to talk on the phone with a restaurant for longer than needed.

Ordering was a smooth and successful transmission and soon Siena’s was cooking up the following for the Bloggers:

1. arancini balls (2 serves)

2. calamari (1 serve)
3. garlic bread
4. penne al diavolo (penne, spicy Italian sausage, onions,
mushrooms, in a chilli tomato sauce).
5. fettucine Siena (fettucine with prawns, broccoli in vodka flavoured
tomato and cream sauce, sprinkled with chilli flakes)
6. an Isabella pizza (tomato, mozarella, basil, Italian sausage,
olives, onions, artichokes)
7. a meatlovers pizza (Tomato, mozarella, bacon, ham, sausage
and chicken)

Picking up the order was more difficult. The Deliberator and the Brains were entrusted with the role of pick-up and take-home. The Deliberator, starving, sulky and desperate for a drink, made several driving errors that saw him turn right where no right turns were permitted, do a u-turn in the middle of Beaufort Street on a busy Thursday night, run up a curb and then park illegally. The Brains’ constant nit-picking did not help, and at after the car was finally stationary, the Deliberator stormed off the Vietnamese deli across the road, god knows what for, leaving the Brains to pick up and carry what was about 45kg of food. Order and calm resumed shortly thereafter.

As usual, and much to the bewilderment of anyone who actually likes food, Siena’s was packed to the rafters. It’s unbelievably popular, but does anyone know anyone who goes there? Anyway, the order was retrieved, and the only notable thing in relation to the pick-up was that the pizzas were sitting on a the bench a long way from the wood fired oven, so they were dead cold by the time we got them home.

So, to the food. It was fine. Really, it was. The pizzas, although cold, had good crispy bases and nice fresh ingredients. The pasta was not full of flavour, but the ingredients themselves were fine. The arancini were each as big as a cannon ball. The calamari was a disappointment, the takeaway container contained more lettuce than squid, and the squid itself was rubbery. So, all in all pretty much exactly as we expected. While we were not surprised, we weren’t completely put off either.

In summary:

Service: Fine. Standard. Typical.

Food: Fine. Standard. Typical.

Ambience: Busy, loud, happy atmosphere, as always.

Highlight: Giant arancini.

Lowlight: Rubbery squid and cold pizza.

Rating: 2.5 half-price-pasta-and-pizza-nights out of 5.

Will we be back: Very unlikely. For similarly priced Italian we would go to Al Sito up in Inglewood (see previous review), Il Pasto in East Perth or Il Padrino in Northbridge.

Details: Everyone knows where Siena’s is. While we didn’t go on a half price pasta and pizza night, the price was still reasonable, coming in at just under $100 for all that food. We expect there may have been some kind of calculating error there. Siena's website is http://www.sienasmtlawley.com.au/

Coming up: We finally made it back to Diva, a full report will be available soon.

Siena's Pizzeria & Caffe on Urbanspoon


Hi everyone. Thanks for all your emails and comments, it's nice to know we have a reader or 2.

We have not disbanded the blog, we have not lost our jobs (yet), we have not moved overseas/interstate/south of the river and we have not gone into hospital/asylum/a witness protection program.

What we have been doing is getting drunk at Christmas and New Years functions every day since early December which has left us with little time to write. New reviews will commence shortly.

Now is a good opportunity to reflect on what is now a year's worth of work. We have discovered some amazing places which we never would have visited if not for this blog - to name a few - Jessie's Curry Kitchen and Cafe, Third Avenue Cafe, Al Sito, Koinonia and Charco's Charcoal Chicken. We will also mention Cantina 663, but we suspect we would have gone there regardless of whether or not the Beaufort Street Challenge was taken up.

We've also discovered some duds - Peking Chinese Restaurant, Seven Seas (which has thankfully closed down) and Magic Pizza.

It's been a long journey, we thought we would have wrapped it up in 2008, but it looks like we'll go well into the new year. As for future plans - we are considering not stopping at the end of Beaufort Street and going right down through Barrack Street, ending up at Halo on the Barrack Street Jetty (which would give us a wonderful opportunity to see the grandious, beautiful and highly-original Perth ferris wheel up close. That thing is AWESOME). Or, we might have a stab at William Street next, although the MSG we'd get from eating at William Street restaurants once a week would probably never leave our bodies.

As you can see, there's much to be excited about. Happy 2009 food fans, we hope it's a great one for all of you.