Monthly Archives: August 2012

Quick Treat: Middle of Nowhere (not just the name of Hanson’s first album)

On a whim, my friend and Louise decided to visit our friend Carly who is teaching in Kalgoorlie this year. Apparently, the Prospector, the train you catch from Perth to Kalgoorlie is a right of passage so I am thankful to have ticked this off the bucket list. We were able to try a few of the watering holes and establishments in Kalgoorlie but the most interesting was a 25 minute drive to the Broad Arrow pub, which is famous for being a haven for bikies as well for all the scribbles, autographs and drawings on the walls. Arguably, this pub has a cult following for locals and tourists so don’t be surprised to wait 2 hours for your meal. Now Perth pubs are going through this annoying face of adding fancy items to menus so a burger is no longer just a burger, you pay over $20 for relish, wagyu, carmelised onions and other fancy flourishes when really it’s still meat in a bun. Don’t worry Broad Arrow only charges $10 for a burger and chips and if you look at the photo it’s nothing flash. Yet on this sunny day in Kal we were warned sternly by the bearded bloke behind the bar that we would be waiting a long time for our meals. Boy did we wait. We turned it into a game, placing empty bets on what time the buzzer will go off. We ordered at 12pm and the buzzer went off at 2.11pm. By that stage we were thankful to have our burgers and sandwiches on the table. You would think they were making homemade bread at the back but no it was a simple burger with meat, cheese, lettuce and tomato. A bit dry for me. But here is the saving grace, the chips were sensational. Crispy on the outside with a soft centre, I was in food heaven. I seriously would go back to the middle of nowhere, at this random pub with writing on the wall just for those chips. Broad Arrow was an experience to remember and those chips I will never forget. If you are ever passing the Super Pit of Kalgoorlie make sure you drive a little further in the other direction and have a beer and chips at the Broad Arrow.

THE FOOD JOURNEY

Ignore the burger just eat the chips!

THE DESTINATION
Broad Arrow Tavern
492 Railway St, Broad Arrow Western Australia 6431
(08) 9024 2058

Whoomp there it is

Treat 22: Yes, we can, can, can, can, can, can, can, can, can! Everybody can-can! Outside it may be rainy but in here it’s entertaining!

What am I on about this time? Besides loving food I do love a good musical so I couldn’t help myself with using song lyrics from Moulin Rouge. Ahh I can hear you say ‘I was wondering where that was from’. It’s a shame you can’t shazam words to find out songs, it would be handy. Now before I change this blog to be about things you can’t remember let’s get straight to the food. It was a cold and rainy Tuesday night, a night like no other. Why? My dad was outside the house on a weeknight, a very rare sighting. You have a greater chance of seeing a leprechaun or the lochness monster than my dad on a weeknight away from his couch and the 7pm ABC news. No tonight was different as I asked him to come along to this work function, which was near the Mount Lawley area and so how could we not have dinner on the Beaufort St strip. I actually think it’s illegal to just drive through Mount Lawley without stopping for at least a coffee. Now my dad likes the simple things in life, growing up the family weekend treat was Hungry Jacks so I do have a soft spot for the bacon deluxe and grilled chicken burger. While dad is the breadwinner in the family I have been given the new role of choosing the restaurants for the weekend treat. After a very unsuccessful outing on Saturday night at Tamarind in Mt Hawthorn (not enough vegetables and too salty for the parents) I had to redeem myself. My confidence was shot. So when my dad mentioned he felt like spaghetti I was really wary of taking him to any Italian restaurant. I didn’t want to fail again; I have a reputation after all so the restaurant of choice was Cantina 663. My dad was in shock at how busy it was and the fact on a rainy Tuesday night we had to wait 20 minutes for a table. He couldn’t believe it. I had to tell him that not everyone here watches the 7pm ABC news. In my dad’s defence he gets up at 5am everyday and is still working as a labourer in his 60’s. He’s been doing it for over 35 years and I am so proud of him. I hope I’m active as him when I get to his age. He gets home at around 5.30 and still has energy to tend to his beloved garden. So you have to understand that by 8pm at night he doesn’t want to be eating dinner, he wants to be asleep on his couch. So I have been ranting on for awhile now and have made no mention of food so here I go. Cantina has been hit and miss with me over the years mainly for its service. The restaurant gets so busy even this Tuesday night that the waitstaff might not be the friendliest beasts. Most of the waitstaff have accents and its fun trying to guess them. The menu isn’t for easy reading, I didn’t know what half the things were on the menu. So we asked the questions and then ordered three mains including:

-gnocchi with black sugo, roasted chilli and cuttlefish
-slow cooked lamb, piperade, crisp buckwheat and pecerino
-porcini and pork belly ragu pappardelle

Did you know what any of that was? Neither did I. This was a fantastic learning experience. Cantina change the menu seasonally and my favourite gnocchi combination they do with carrot, walnut, radicchio, gorgonzola was changed for cuttlefish and black sugo. What is black sugo? Good question. I still don’t know the answer to that one and I even googled it. They must have made it up. I am going back there just to find out and because the dish was delicious. My brother ordered the pork belly dish and I had food envy. I love pasta sheets more than gnocchi and so it didn’t take us long before we swapped. My dad loved his slow cooked lamb and all three of us kept trading off our plates to try all the meals. Sharing is caring after all. Dad’s verdict, he loved Cantina and can’t wait to take mum there. Cantina is perfect for a date night with it’s dark interior and romantic candle-lit ambience. Though it was too late for dessert this time, it’s definitely on the radar next time. I’m just so excited that my dad enjoyed a place I chose so my bad run has ended. It was a HUGE gamble, the food at Cantina is a bit left of centre and the menu can sound pretentious. Dad recommends they have an English translation on the menu. I had to break it to him that the menu was in English with some fancy words thrown in. The waiters though rushed off their feet do take the time to translate the menu to the everyday punter. It reminds me of the hard to read specials at Billy Kwongs in Surry Hills. The waiters automatically know you are going to ask them to read the menu for you; the menu is more of a novelty. Overall, Cantina impressed my dad and that impressed me. He is a tough critic, I mean really how can you blame him. Once you try my mum’s cooking you will know what I mean. I’ll make sure to share with you my mum’s opinion on Cantina once we convince her to go.

THE FOOD JOURNEY

Gnocchi with cuttlefish and black sugo, which my brother thought was delicious but we don’t know what it is. Any ideas?

Absolutely delicious…the photo does not do this justice. If you like fresh pasta then you will love this dish!

My brother is tall so he likes to take photos that are really up high to prove to everyone he’s very tall. That might not be his reasoning but he did the same thing to my graduation photos. Yes I’m holding a grudge. This is the lamb dish but it’s hard to tell from way up there (he’s 6ft 3 – much taller than his 5ft twin sister, that’s me by the way).

THE DESTINATION
Cantina 663 on Urbanspoon

Treat 21: I’ve got to admit it’s getting better, it’s a little better all the time (it can’t get no worse)

I’m taking inspiration from the Beatles for this treat…I am the first to admit I complain (a lot) about Perth’s dining scene. My problem lies in the fact that the prices are ridiculously expensive but the service and food don’t match. For example good old fashioned pub food rarely exists in Perth, it’s replaced with fancy words on the menu and a $40 price tag but the value fails to appear on my plate. Some days you want a beef pie or a sandwich without the bells and whistles. Rant over. I’m going to take a half glass full approach and be pro-Perth. There are many exciting restaurants and bars popping up in Perth from the French Revolution to funky small bars in hidden spots giving us a taste of Melbourne. It’s great to walk into a place and say ‘This is so Melbourne’. That means the restaurant or bar you are in make you feel you are somewhere else like on holiday. I will rattle off a few new places that I love:
• Trustees – it’s like a miniature version of one of my favourite Sydney bars Establishment thanks to its touch of marble.
• Heritage Bar and Brassiere – imagine France and the USA mixed together with black and white chequered floors and drinking from a $150,000 zinc bar.
• El Publico – small and quaint Mexican restaurant/bar adding spice to Beaufort St.
• Tuckshop – great coffee, pies and service
• The Classroom – a bar with a cool theme and creative cocktails much. You can also learn a language while in the bathroom.
• Aisuru Sushi – it’s nice, different, unusual and goes beyond the standard sushi fare of California rolls and teriyaki chicken.
• Sake Bar – another Japanese restaurant/bar that is full of creative flair. Try the wagyu for a melt in your mouth moment.
• Petite Ardois – I love French food and this place makes you feel like you are in bistro in Paris. Watch out for my treat on the French flavours in Perth.

This treat will focus on Heritage Bar and Brassiere where I indulged on the following menu items:
• Exmouth King Prawns in creamy garlic sauce
• Poached salmon in a beure blanc with broccoloni
• Good old-fashioned chocolate sundae

The prawns were meaty (probably not the best way to describe them) but it’s a nice change from the baby prawns you often receive at restaurants. To my palate the sauce was more creamy than garlic but I have a high garlic threshold. The salmon was cooked perfectly and came with a generous broccoloni brunch. A pet peeve of mine is when the protein comes with one or two branches of broccoloni so that put me in a good mood. Now the menu at Heritage is a mixture of French and American influence, so for dessert I chose the USA option of a chocolate sundae. Now I have a secret addiction to peanut butter desserts. My waistline thanks Australia for a lack of interest in peanut butter desserts in contrast to it’s close ally the USA with peanut butter M&Ms, nutter butters, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches….the list could go on. Think of any chocolate bar you can get in Australia and 9/10 times I bet there is a peanut butter version. So I was in dessert heaven scraping the bowl for the last remains of the peanut butter sauce and chocolate ice cream. To be honest the ice cream wasn’t out of the ordinary especially for a $13 dessert I don’t think it has the complexity for the price tag. But that’s Perth for you. I recently had friends over from the USA and that was a regular comment from them. I had a feeling they would have this reaction. I mean $13 for a sundae…you would probably get 5kg of ice cream in the USA for that. Drinks…don’t get me started. On exchange in Bloomington, a college town in Indiana all you needed was coin change to hit the bars thanks to $2 Tuesdays (cocktails) and 25 cent Thursdays (for a pint of beer). So try explaining to my college student friends that a cocktail is $20. I did use the argument that liquid nitrogen was involved but that fell on deaf ears. I am taking my negative nancy hat off and singing a positive tune about Perth’s dining and wining scene. It can’t be denied Perth continues to evolve and to quote a wise man (Usher Raymond IV) you either evolve or evaporate. For a long time Perth was evaporating while Sydney and Melbourne became the face of Australia. Now Perth is making a name for itself not just for being the most isolated city in the world or for being so expensive BUT for getting better, a little better all the time. These new places popping up are proof in the pudding.

THE DESTINATION
The Heritage Brasserie, Bar & Boardroom on Urbanspoon

Treat 20: Up in my grill

My favourite word at the moment is teppinyaki. Actually that’s a lie, it’s tied with Nusa Dua. I’m still on my search for teppinyaki ala How I Met Your Mother style. Till that day happens I will try alternative versions still using a grill but without the cool flippy chef moves. Today’s treat takes us to Korea, neither north or south but a Korean grill on Barrack Street. Took Bae Kee II was a pleasant surprise considering it was close to the dodgy end of Barrack street. Thanks to a spreets voucher I went with the Myer girls to enjoy a Korean grill price for the cheap and cheerful price of $10 each. This gave us two choices from the dumplings and grill section of the menu. After much indecisiveness here is what we chose:

• Kimchee and a bit of pork seasonal vegetables steamed dumplings (that’s exactly what the menu said – a bit of pork)
• Sweet potato noodles and seasonal vegetables fried dumplings
• Thick sliced soy chicken with seasoned vegetables
• Thin sliced beef oyster blade in special seasoned soy sauce marinade with seasonal vegetables

I am sometimes wary with those cheap internet vouchers but this was a fantastic deal and we enjoyed a great selection of food. The table was set out with a few condiments including soy beans and kimchee. The grill was positioned in the middle of the table and located dangerously near my elbow was a bell to call for service. What an amazing invention! I felt like a naughty kid though because my elbow ‘accidentally’ kept hitting it. This is great for ordering extra water and rice but no so great for ordering extra lettuce, that request was ignored. Besides that minor hiccup the service was spot on and attentive throughout this grilling experience. I am first to admit my knowledge of Korean cuisine is very limited. I have been fascinated with kimchee for awhile now as I have heard it has amazing health benefits because of its fermentation. I had never tried it and I enjoyed the kick of spice that came with it. When I go to the dentist tomorrow I think I’ll buy a jar from the Asian store next door. The kimchee and a bit of pork steam dumpling was seasoned nicely but it did have a rubbery texture around the edges that I discarded. It also needed some dunking in the soy sauce for extra flavour. The sweet potato noodles dumpling was a bit confusing for me because I thought the noodles would be made of sweet potato. I was wrong, it was vermicelli noodles with grated sweet potato. Same same but different. At the same those dumplings were put on the table I got distracted by the sound of grilling. The waitress carefully arranged the oyster mushrooms and chicken mixture in the pan. I got so excited. So by the time I remembered to eat my dumpling it was cold and rubbery. My own fault on that one. The chicken was delicious with the rice and vegetables. Thanks to Kirsty for the great idea of wrapping the chicken in lettuce and eating with our hands. By that stage I was struggling with my metallic chopsticks. I’m not going to lie I struggle with wooden chopsticks as well – I’m one of those people who dart the chopstick in the prawn dumpling at dim sum. The beef was next to hit the grill and we watched this closely because we prefer it on the medium rare side. The chicken we didn’t mind to leave cooking because let’s face it we didn’t want salmonella but unfortunately it left for some hard bits. The beef was tender and my favourite of the two. I think I was in a beef mood though. Overall I was pleasantly surprised by this dining experience. Here I was thinking that we would be cooking the food ourselves, which I’m not a fan of because I don’t go to a restaurant to cook. Sorry Arirang (another Korean restaurant on Barrack Street) you lose brownie points there. I would definitely go back there even without a cheap deal. For the amount of food you get and the fun you having ringing the door bell (okay maybe that’s just me) and having food grilled in front of you then Took Bae Kee II is a winner chicken dinner.

THE FOOD JOURNEY

Kimchee and a bit of pork dumplings

The grill

They cook it right in front of your eyes (except without the flippy cool teppinyaki moves)

Now it’s cooked ready to eat

I told you we like our meat rare (ok I lie we cooked it a bit more than that)

THE DESTINATION
Took Bae Kee II on Urbanspoon

Quick Treat: It’s time for a cheap and cheerful

I love sushi but I know someone who loves sushi more…my sister Suzy. So on our weekend excursions I have taken her to all my favourite brunch spots like Sayers and Tuckshop but she finally admitted to me that all this time she wanted sushi. Now she didn’t tell me this, no words were exchanged but the reaction on her face while she ate her California Roll said it all to me. Suzy has gluten intolerance so Japanese is a convenient and safe option for her. You just avoid the sauces and the traditional teriyaki chicken fare. Instead you dine on sashimi and sushi with mainly seafood fillings. This time we ventured to my old faithful for Japanese, Taka’s Kitchen where I frequented often as a uni student while working at Myer in the city. For under $10 you will be satisfied. Suzy ordered the large sushi plate, see the photo below, which we probably could have shared. For $11.80 you get a great range of sushi and sashimi so you don’t get bored with the variety. I ordered the teriyaki chicken udon noodles, which were disappointing as most of the chicken was fatty and not enjoyable. Food envy struck again. I probably finished half my bowl before I got sick of the broth and eating udon noodles by itself was no longer satisfying. Thankfully, Suzy was happy to share. I also have to mention the delicious seaweed salad for $1.50 I felt healthier already. If you are looking for simple Japanese fare that won’t break the bank you can’t go past Taka’s. A special mention to the complimentary green tea and all its antioxidant goodness. My understanding of Japanese food continues to grow as I keep treating. In a future blog I will discuss the fine dining Japanese in Perth a la Nobu and Shiro. I’m hoping one day to try teppinyaki…mainly because the word is awesome to say and because of an episode on How I Met your Mother when Barney gets the ducky tie. Till next treat sayounara.

THE FOOD JOURNEY

Taka Japanese Cuisine Shafto Lane on Urbanspoon

Treat 19: Les poissons, les poissons, How I love les poissons (a song from the Little Mermaid for those playing at home)

This restaurant has been on the radar for awhile now, especially for my friend Fran and I who are mad West Coast Eagles supporters. Beluga Restaurant in Claremont is partly owned by West Coast players Andrew Embley and Dean Cox but Fran was disappointed by their lack of presence. Not a bad thing though since they won that weekend’s game, good to see them keeping their focus on footy. Actually she might see Embley there now that he’s injured but I digress. The décor suits the Claremont crowd, simple and elegant are words that come to mind. The open kitchen is a revolution that has taken over Melbourne for awhile now and is starting to make it’s way across the Nullabor. For my friend Davina, open kitchens are a put off but that’s simply fixed by her sitting with her back to it. Now Beluga’s menu is on the shorter side compared to fine dining establishments like Rockpool with it’s novel. If you are a vegetarian I would probably avoid Beluga because it does pride itself on its seafood. The Little Mermaid is one of my favourite movies and seafood is one of my favourite foods, they have no correlation but I just thought you should know. The menu for this evening included:

ENTRÉE
• Special On The Night – Scallops On Cauliflower Puree
• Exmouth Prawns (Disclaimer: this was done better at The Heritage Brasserie – prawns were larger and juicy)

MAINS
• House-made linguini, tomato, garlic, chilli, lobster
• Special – Spanish curry mussels
• Special – hook line sinker fish of the day Nile Perch with a fennel salad

DESSERT
• Cannoli Hazelnut & Pistachio Cream
• Citrus Tart
• Mini Crème Brulee (with a secret ingredient)

The night started off with a delicious New Zealand Pinot Noir (great suggestion Fran). Four of us lucky birds had the pleasure of trying the perfectly cooked scallop. The presentation was so pretty. The prawns had a nice crunch to it but weren’t all that memorable and without sounding too much like Manu it could have done with more sauce. The mains then came out perfectly on time and a reasonably sized serve. I ordered the linguini. My favourite pasta dish is linguini alle vongole, I love the simple flavours of chilli and garlic. I wish I could bottle up their smell when you first fry them off. The dish was simple, the pasta cooked al dente and all the right flavours with the basil perfectly marrying the tomato. However, I do agree with Fran it needed more spice. The flavours worked well together but it needed a bigger kick to take it to another level. For $45, this dish has a lot of pasta so it might be a good idea to share it with a companion and order another dish just to add variety to your night. My friends Kirsty and Davina ordered the fish of the day and loved how delicately cooked the fish was and enjoyed the accompanying fennel salad. Let’s just say the table was awfully quiet for a group of five girls at this point. Fran was a big fan of her Spanish curry style mussels and she kindly gave me a taste test. I wish my dish had that bit of spice because that one mussel was definitely a taste explosion. There is always room for dessert. Even though I was full to the brim (not bream…it’s a fish joke get it because we are at a seafood restaurant… lame I know) I had to order the crème brulee. It’s as if Beluga could read my mind as they had mini versions on offer. The first mouthful I knew this was no ordinary crème brulee. The table next to me also knew by my squeals of delight…the secret ingredient being popping candy. This is all the rage at the moment and why not it’s so much fun. The actual crème brulee itself was delicious, the custard amazing and there was a definite sugar coating that I was able to crack through. I must admit one of my favourite desserts for the year. The citrus tart won rave reviews from Davina and the cannoli also was a hit. I’m hoping they will bring back their chocolate tart with quince pure cream. I love chocolate and I love quince, it will be nice to see them get back together. So all in all besides Beluga being the place to be for Perthonalities, the food and service is of premiership quality. However the price definitely caters for the Claremont crowd and you might find more bang for your buck at Rockpool of all places. If you love seafood and have a special occasion coming up give Beluga a go.

THE FOOD JOURNEY

How pretty…and after you finish eating it you can recycle it for a Little Mermaid costume.

My favourite pasta combination – chilli, garlic, tomato and seafood.

Beluga on Urbanspoon

Quick Treat: If you don’t like chicken then something is wrong with you

I say that tongue in cheek because I know a few people who don’t like chicken (without mentioning any names – my cousin and my neighbour). So if you are one of these rare chicken haters than the half chicken that you get from the Brisbane Hotel’s roast and red night is to be avoided. But if you are a chicken lover like me then the huge chicken and vegetable offering plus a glass of house red is a marriage made in heaven. For $25 what a great deal in the notoriously expensive Perth. The meal came out quickly to our delight as we were starving. The chicken was plump and juicy and the vegetables did the job, in particular the sweet carrots and roast potatoes were a favourite of mine. The gravy was lacklustre and didn’t really add any flavour to the meal so out came the cracked pepper for a bit of kick. Overall, if you have had a hard (or easy) day at work and feel too lazy to cook then the Tuesday roast and red special at the Brisbane is a brilliant back up for winter food comforts without the hassle.

I feel like chicken tonight, like chicken tonight!

The Brisbane Hotel on Urbanspoon