Tag Archives: brunch

Treat 69: Not so secret garden

So I’ve run out of excuses as to why my treating is so irregular. I mean I haven’t stopped eating. I pledge that I will keep treating at least once a week with the odd recipe here and there. Today’s treat is exactly that. The Grounds of Alexandria is wonderful! It’s like a mixture of Old Mcdonald had a farm/Secret Garden/Rita’s heaven. Walking into The Grounds for the first time I couldn’t help but smile. Then I turned to my right and saw the long line for a table. Luckily my friends already had a pager in hand and at 9am we only had a half hour wait. Yes I know! On my left was this awesome outdoor kitchen. You are surrounded by strawberry tarts, muffins, lemonade stands, nuts….it truly is a food haven. It’s a lot to take in. So if you didn’t want to wait to be seated in the restaurant section you won’t leave The Grounds starving because there is food everywhere. Don’t forget to say hi to Kevin Bacon and Bradley the lamb who have returned after being stolen and found in country Victoria. The cute little petting farm in the back of The Grounds is a wonderful touch for families. I’ve used so many superlatives without even talking about a meal yet. After waiting (yes I waited and I would do it again) we went inside to be seated in front of the coffee roaster. Swoon! I am loving this trend with coffee roasting on the premises. Typika in Perth (see Treat 65) invested in a $800,000 coffee roasting machine that I loved staring at when I dined there. So I apologise to the company I was with if I was staring out to the distance. They even have a coffee menu with diagrams! I noticed the Sydney trend is to order piccolos, which is a small latte. I like that idea because I don’t like milky coffees. But knowing me I’ll stick to my macchiatos. I guess there piccolo is like a long macchiato. I tried ordering a long mac once and they gave me a long black. So I might try get on the piccolo bandwagon. The Grounds also offers French press coffees and aeropress coffee which I’ve never had. Aeropress coffee brews full bodied coffee that is less acidic and without bitterness so I’m looking forward to trying it. Or I could just get The Grounds coffee sample tray and try them all! Ok food time…sorry it’s long overdue. The breakfast menu has great variety – think quinoa porridge soaked in coconut milk with chia seeds and pawpaw, breakfast burger with eggs, bacon, relish and a relish roll; and even falafel gets a mention. The sides also give you heaps of choice. Make sure to try the homemade beans. I felt like something simple and ordered the breakfast board with double smoked bacon, pesto, persian fetta, heirloom tomatoes, avocado and poached eggs. It was so fresh and tasty. I did have issue with the bread. The sourdough was hard to cut and didn’t add anything to the meal. I probably chose the least creative dish on the menu but I left a happy camper. It just means I have to keep going back. I love The Grounds concept. Enchanting design, delicious food and friendly staff. I just want to tell everyone about it except then I don’t because it’s already so busy. I mean a half hour wait at 9am? Perth friends if you are visiting Sydney…I’ll probably be taking you there.

THE FOOD JOURNEY

The Grounds brekky

The Grounds brekky

THE DESTINATION
The Grounds of Alexandria on Urbanspoon

Treat 67: I can’t believe it’s been 2 months since my last treat!

It’s blogging time finally. Sorry for the delay in treats but I have a decent excuse. I just packed my bags and moved to the other side of the country. So the treats will take on a different flavour. You’ll hear me rave or rant about restaurants in my new home town of Sydney. In terms of ranting…price might not be one of them. I had brunch the other day including coffee…set me back $15. That’s double in Perth. Happy hour with half price drinks besides Carnegies on a Wednesday then you are dreaming. Besides eating out I’ll also post recipes (I actually mean it this time). My mum is an amazing cook but me I cook like my teta (grandma). I’m always in a rush. My problem is I cook when I’m hungry so I’ll eat along the way or rush so I can eat it sooner. However by living at home I became complacent. To quote a wise man (Hugh Jackman)…you can either stay complacent or grow. I decided to grow, not in height though that would be handy but in cooking ability and independence. For example, hummus is a staple of my house but not once did I attempt it. Why? Because my mum does an amazing job. When she tried to teach me it was in one ear and out the other. But I gave it a go and besides making too much (you only need one can not three for one person to last you a week). I made enough for a small army. So another challenge is cooking for one because I’m naturally engrained to cook bulk. Now I will use this post to talk food and not just update you on my life. Let’s talk one of my fave meals of the day…brunch. I alluded to it earlier when I was having my usual rant about Perth prices. My first brunch in Sydney was at Cowbell 808 in Surry Hills. I initially wanted to go to Bourke Street Bakery but at 11.30 on a Sunday I had no chance with the line bending around the corner. As you know I don’t wait (see Treat 44) My friend Patrick recommended Cowbell for its bacon ice cream…yep you heard right. How was it? Well I couldn’t tell you because they took it off the menu. I almost threw a tantrum like the 2 year old next to me. She too was obviously upset about the lack of bacon ice cream. Instead I got an egg and bacon wrap, which was delicious! The relish that went with yum! It was an alternative version of a bacon and egg roll…I was impressed. Their version of shashuka also looked a stand out. I say looked because I was eye dropping the table next to me. It was a couple on a date and the girl got the bigger meal. I was proud of her. My friend Alisha opted for the traditional scrambled eggs on toast. Just a couple negatives…table numbers were a bit disorganised. There were three table 13s, which became 13 1/2 and 13 3/4 by the end of it. The food was slow to come out but in Cowbell’s defence the place was heaving. We were lucky to get a table straight away. All in all this was a fine introduction to the Sydney brunch scene. I’ll continue searching high and low for the best brunch in Sydney. Tuck Shop and Sayers jointly took out the title in Perth. So watch this space…

THE FOOD JOURNEY
Good news…I have upgraded to an iPhone 5. No more dark and blurry photos.
Bad news…I’m so out of touch that I forgot to take a photo.

THE DESTINATION
Cowbell 808 on Urbanspoon

Treat 66: Because you had a bad day…

I really wanted to like this place. I really did. But all I feel is disappointment and hunger. My first visit to No 4 Blake street was more successful. Good coffee and I enjoyed the banana bread. Though disappointed that at 11am I couldn’t get the brownie as they hadn’t made it yet. The menu said it was available. Now I still don’t know what homemade aero tastes like. I still liked the cafe enough to suggest to my culinary adventurous friends from my European travels to join me there for an overdue catch up. How I wish I did not spearhead this decision. Firstly, the coffee was undrinkable. It was so bitter that I thought my glass still had detergent remains from the dishwasher. I barely had a quarter before giving up. My friend Daniele also didn’t enjoy his coffee. The tea however was a hit with both Kirsty and Krystle, which helped keep them warm on this blistery cold winters day. So if the coffee was bad, how about the food? The disappointment sadly continued. I ordered the chakchouka after having a very positive experience at Boucla in Subiaco. Boucla’s chakchouka had intense flavour. Chunky tomato pieces made it easy to pick up with bread. The egg was baked to perfection, the white was dense and the yolk gooey. For $14 it was great value.The Blake version was the complete opposite. It was not cooked properly. The egg whites were clear and runny. Only two tiny pieces of olive bread were provided to dip into the small clay pot. The intense tomato flavour was missing. The red peppers were few and far between. It lacked the kick that made Boucla’s chakchouka soar. In fairness Daniele who also ordered the chakchouka had better looking whites. The fact he left most of it in the clay pot is not a good sign. For $18 I wished I suggested Boucla in the first place. I was left hungry and popped down the road to Hobart Street Deli for my coffee fix. Sorry it doesn’t end there. Kirsty’s sourdough bread was either stale or not properly toasted. In other words it was inedible. On a positive note her poached eggs were perfect. Krystle also ordered the poached eggs but on gluten free bread. Her side of avocado never came. Getting the waitstaffs’ attention was near impossible. I think they forget the section up the stairs. Everytime we tried to wave them down they had quickly turned their backs down the stairs to the kitchen. So the service was also a let down. If you see a table with most of their plates with food remains and cups with undrunk coffee…that should be a sign in itself that the party is not happy. We tried to complain in the end but the waitstaff serving us wasn’t very receptive. All in all it was a letdown from start to finish. I’m hoping Blakes was having a bad day because I’ve heard great things from quite a few people. I just checked their website and they have taken the week off. Me thinks it’s good timing to get the staff refreshed. Hopefully the food improves, perhaps a good opporunity to clean the coffee machine and next time I look forward to seeing service with a smile. Otherwise go to Boucla instead for chakchouka that won’t let you down. And yes…I like to say chakchouka.

THE DESTINATION
No 4 Blake Street on Urbanspoon

Quick Treat: A few hours in Freo

This treat won’t be packed with South of the river jokes. Scout’s honour. Except I was never in the scouts and I can’t help myself. Talking to my friend Fran, who had never stepped foot into tourist favourite Little Creatures, Fremantle is very much still a day trip. You don’t pop over there just for lunch. Well that’s just lies. Because you can and I am living proof that the drive to Freo is worth the couple hours you spend there. You don’t have to spend all day there. Just lunch. So that’s we did at Ootong Lincoln. We missed the breakfast menu by half hour (I underestimated the time it would take me to get to Freo…sorry I told you I couldn’t help it). I was impressed that the breakky menu lasts till 1.00pm. I like Freo’s laid back style where breakfast and lunch menus co-exist together. I ordered the ‘Asian salad’ as the waiter described it when he gave it to me. In his defence I couldn’t pronounce it either. Crispy bean sprouts, fresh capscicum and a small portion of chicken was combined with a refreshing Thai fish sauce dressing. Sweet, sour and delicious. My sister’s frittata was gluten free and vegetable packed. Did she like it? Well she finished it. But I couldn’t tell from her poker face if she was in love with it. Now the salted caramel macaron or coloured biscuit as she likes to call it was a hit. We demolished them in no time. My friend Kirsty had the salads and wasn’t overly impressed. The couscous salad was bland with the large corn pearls absorbing any form of dressing. The rocket and pomegranate salad was enjoyable but it didn’t hit the ball out of the park. I talk baseball because my friend Erin at work is heading on an amazing six week trip that includes a baseball game in New York. We spent many a minute on wikepedia figuring out how long the game goes for. So the salads weren’t amazing but it just proves my point. You don’t make friends with salad. I’m definately more brunch than lunch so I’ll be back at Ootong Lincoln before 1pm for their breakfast menu. P.S. Love the vintage bikes and jar lighting. Makes bric and brac from the verge look cool. Screams Freo. Actually I should say screams South Freo. Yes I admit I got lost finding south Freo. I can’t wait to spend a few more hours (no day trip necessary) there.

THE FOOD JOURNEY

Pumpkin arancini with the peski couscous salad.

Pumpkin arancini with the peski couscous salad.

Vegetable packed frittata

Vegetable packed frittata

Asian salad....I loved the dressing.

Asian salad….I loved the dressing.

THE DESTINATION
Ootong & Lincoln on Urbanspoon

Treat 56: The North Star

My friend Louise is moving South of the River and though I am sad to see her leave us Northies behind, on the bright side it means branching out and trying new places that aren’t in my local radius. I do apologise to my followers that are south of the river because I knowingly neglect you. I also apologise for making jokes about needing road trip CDs to get to Fremantle. I’ll be honest I won’t stop making them (sorry Louise and Neha). So in the next couple weeks you will notice new brunch locations and I’ll mention suburbs where I probably have never eaten before. However, I couldn’t let Louise cross to the dark side without one last supper or brunch in this case at one of her former haunts, Hobart Deli in North Perth. This was actually my first time at Hobart Deli. I find myself continually surprised by these random corner cafes in the suburbs. Recent discoveries include Lincoln’s Cafe in Highgate, Piccolos Cafe in West Leederville and West End Deli in West Perth (see Quick Treat: The Slap). Hobart Deli was packed to the rafters on this Monday public holiday. I was lucky to nab a table so quickly. I’d like to think that was because for the first time in my life I was actually on time for brunch. Hopefully this experience will motivate me to become more punctual but I am naturally a late person and I can’t fight genetics. What I like about the Hobart Deli menu is that it has brunch options that you usually wouldn’t eat let alone make at home. The small space inside and out means you are almost practically sitting on the person next to you. It’s not arms distance apart more like a pinky finger space next to you. The advantage in this is that it is great for food watching (and eavesdropping but that’s neither here nor there). Unless you have already ordered then the advantage becomes a disadvantage because then you have food envy staring a pinky distance away from you. I ordered the full vegetarian, which didn’t sound as fun as the full playground (the title for the meat-eaters option). I’m not vegetarian but I like vegetarian options at brunch. You will notice me choosing the mushrooms and feta or anything with poached eggs really. This was a vegetarian’s dream – zucchini and haloumi fritter, roasted tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms and poached egg on rye bread. They should rename it the Full House because it really has all the vegetarian favourites. The standout item for me was the zucchini and haloumi fritter. I loved the texture of the shredded zucchini and the punchy herbs made it memorable. The letdown was the overcooked poached eggs and hard rye bread. The bread choice was my fault. Rye is notoriously hard to cut but for some bizarre reason I like the sour taste that comes with it. The hard poached egg makes me sad because it’s gooeyness would have helped soften the rye bread. I won’t remind you about the last time my heart broke when I got hard poached eggs (see Treat 49: Foam Home ). I won’t give up on this place though. If I take your mind back to food envy, I had that from the lady next to me who in her own words was staring at the ensemble on my plate. In turn, I was staring longingly at her brioche with berries. I can’t wait to go back there just for that. The coffee was decent. When I looked at my coffee connoisseur friend Louise, she did not seem that impressed. She’s only moved in across the river five minutes and she’s criticising the coffee on the northie side. We will see about that. I really mean that….I have a long list of places to try including Ootong & Lincoln, Harvest, Barque, Aubergines….the list goes on. To sort of quote a wise man, Ali G….North side is the best! The crowds at Hobart Deli, Tuck Shop Cafe and Sayers are testament to that. But as a ‘foodie’ who actually eats food (not just take photos of it) I am excited by the prospect of finding the south of the river version of these brunching options. Watch out southies I am coming and I have an awesome road trip CD all ready to go.

THE FOOD JOURNEY

Breakfast is the only time I'm vegetarian (except when I eat bacon)

Breakfast is the only time I’m vegetarian (except when I eat bacon)

THE DESTINATION
Hobart Deli on Urbanspoon

Quick Treat: Enjoy the Perth sunshine

I have a backlog of treats to write about so I apologise if I keep referring to Christmas and December in the next few treats even though we are well and truly in January. The silly season makes brunching hard to do with many cafes closing up shop for a well-deserved break. I found out the hard way on this Saturday post-Christmas with Boucla in Subiaco closed and not opening till January 14. Despite initial disappointment as I was so looking forward to eating spanakopita, you can’t stay gloomy when the sun is shining. It was such a nice day and I wanted to roam in the outdoors so we went off to Subiaco Farmers Markets instead. Now these markets have such a great buzz. You get that wonderful family vibe because it’s on Subiaco Primary School grounds along with the manic market atmosphere. Today I was in luck because my feeling for spanakopita was happily met by Tom the Greek. The spinach and ricotta filling hit the spot. It helped me survive the long line for coffee. Despite the crazy amount of orders I think I was ninth on a growing list that the barista ploughed through in no time. The coffee was delicious. Enjoy Perth’s sunshine and make your way to Subiaco Farmers markets for quirky brunch options. There are heaps of stalls and an array of cuisines. I almost got swept away by the aroma of spices from the Moroccan stall but I stuck to my initial desires for pastry. I can’t wait to go back and give raw food a go…you heard right, raw food. Watch this space and learn with me what this is all about.

THE DESTINATION
Subi Farmers Market
Subiaco Primary School, 271 Bagot Road, Subiaco
Every Saturday 8am – noon

Treat 49: Foam Home

I’m not a morning person. No matter how many new years resolutions I make to become one it never happens. Waking up at 6am is rare for me…the only exception I make is when I meet my cousins or a friend for breakfast before work. It makes a great start to the morning. On this pouring morning my friend Kirsty and I were lucky enough to park right outside Foam Coffee Bar, the new coffee hub in Leederville that replaced the hail damaged Cafe 130. I’ve only been there once before to try their whoopie pie offering (it was slightly dry) and a delicious coffee. They have a nice and simple breakfast menu and also have your essential lunch items like sandwiches and wraps. Plus the temptation of cupcakes, brownies and other sweet treats. For breakfast I ordered poached eggs with mushrooms on quinoa linseed bread. It’s the simple things that I take pleasure in. However, it’s the simple things that normally miss the mark. Take for example, poached eggs. This is usually my breakfast/brunch staple. Done correctly, the ooeyy gooey yolky centre soaks the bread. However, my recent experience at Beaufort Merchant with my vinegary and hardened poached eggs were a major miss. For $13 I was left scratching my head especially as I only ordered poached eggs. This would have ended up being a $20 breakfast if I included add-ons like bacon. As the eggs were hardened there was nothing to soak the limp looking bread. It can ruin your morning. Luckily at Foam, the eggs were poached to perfection with the yolkiness soaking the delicious quinoa toast. The mushrooms added a healthy touch. I have learnt a valuable lesson on poached eggs…beware of getting them alone with bread. I think that’s why I am so faithful to Sayers because they have a variety of dishes where the poached egg is a bonus. For example, they used to have this spinach and ricotta crepe that probably didn’t need a poached egg but I was more than happy for it to come to the party. Where Beaufort Merchant failed me, Foam stood it’s ground. I also give them brownie points for a delish pumpkin and spinach turkish bread sandwich. Leederville is littered with a number of cafes and has become a faithful breakfast meeting point because it’s close to work. Watch this space as I treat my way through Oxford and Newcastle Street and pick out my favourite breakfast stops. I’ll find the good, the bad and the ugly. Fingers crossed for runny poached eggs!

THE FOOD JOURNEY

Poached to perfection

Poached to perfection

THE DESTINATION
Foam Coffee Bar on Urbanspoon