Tag Archives: coffee

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

Treat 64: Screams Melbourne but with Perth service

I’m a tragic when it comes to new places in Perth. I try to be the first one there. If I like the place I keep going back. So that’s the situation I have found myself at Gordon’s Street Garage. Don’t get me wrong, it has let me down at times. The coffee that never came, receiving a white wine when I ordered a very red Sangiovese, getting charged for three bottles of wine when we only ordered three glasses….sadly the list of service mishaps goes on. Can we put it down to teething problems? I do have to criticise how each mishap was handled. Apologies were never received. In fact the coffee that never came was blamed on us even though we had paid for it and had an itemised bill to prove it. When you order two take away coffees and only receive one take away cup – there is no other way to explain it but a miscommunication between the barista and wait-staff. This should be rectified immediately rather than questioning the customer. That was my second breakfast visit at Gordon’s and compared to my other visits was the one with the worst service. Considering it was quite empty for a Wednesday morning, it was very slow to have our orders taken and even slower to get coffees to four dedicated females who don’t work in West Perth but wanted to experience Gordon’s breakfast delights. Sorry for the negative start to this treat. I will now write with a more positive tone. The first breakky experience showcased how busy a new place in Perth gets. Though we didn’t have to wait long to get a table for our big group of seven. Service was polished despite mounting pressure from the heaving crowds. The food that came out was delicious. The bruschetta, avocado, heirloom tomato, labneh and rocket combination was spot on. The labneh was deliciously tart as I expected it to be. The gluten free banana bread toast with cinnamon butter was a hit with my coeliac sister Suzy. I think I ate most of it (poor Suzy). All my dining companions were impressed with their breaky dishes. The vegetarian breakfast was very filling and I admit food envy as I saw my friend Louise plough through it. The only negative point was they ran out of the savoury muffins, which sounded amazing. It was an artichoke number. At this stage, Gordon’s had been opened for less than two weeks. So far I was impressed. The second breakky visit as discussed above let me down. The pumpkin and feta muffin was slightly dry. The real let down was in the service. Now to dinner. You will be happy to know that Gordon’s is open late Monday to Sunday. About time there is a late night dining venue where you can have a nice red wine and graze over a pizza with your mates. The first dinner experience had hits and misses. My friend Krystle has severe gluten intolerance so we had to be careful with what we ordered. That rules out the pizzas and half the salads. Unfortunately the menu isn’t very flexible so asking to have the buckwheat replaced with quinoa in the tabouleh was a fail. The highlight was the beetroot salad. So elegant. Delicately shaved beetroot perfectly matched the walnuts and blue cheese. The fish was delicious but we needed more of it. As it was on the share menu, there wasn’t much of it to go around. The tabouleh was a disappointment. It was a modern take on this Middle Eastern classic and lacked dressing. What I do love about the menu is that it works well for sharing. The next dinner experience was all about the pizza. I was a big fan of the 4 seasons with prosciutto, artichoke and mushrooms. I just love artichokes full stop. It didn’t take much for this to be a winner. The Hunters pizza was like a fancy meat eaters with house made salami picante and prosciutto. Yes I googled what picante meant and it refers to the salami being prepared in such a way as to be spicy. I didn’t feel the heat from the salami but I have increased my spicy tolerance thanks to a trip to Thailand. The pizzas weren’t amazing like Dough (see Treat 26) but they do have a delicious flavour profile. Plus add a glass of Tempranillo, good company and you have yourself a lovely night. So there is room for improvement at Gordon’s. However, I can’t believe I left it this long to describe the interior. The space screams Melbourne. From funky booths, to an upstairs area with an old-fashioned record player, it is quirky, cool and industrial. It is loud. The universal music playing in the background will make you think you’re in Spain one minute, the Middle East the next and then off to France you go. I’ll also make a note about the bathrooms. Thanks to the low basins I felt very tall. Maybe not practical but hey it was nice to feel tall for a moment. Overall I would go back to Gordon’s Street Garage. I am not ready to give up on it. Though it’s had woeful service in a couple of my visits, in my last visit service was spot on. We even had a few laughs with the wait-staff as they patiently waited for us to make up our mind. This place makes you feel like you are in another place (Melbourne or Barcelona come to mind because of the arty décor) but a couple of the service mishaps bring you back to earth that you are in Perth.

THE DESTINATION
Gordon St Garage on Urbanspoon

Quick Treat: You give me fever

One Saturday I was struggling to find a place for coffee and a chat in the CBD. With all these cafes throughout the CBD only opening during the working week I resorted to the food courts. I will give two big thumbs up for the sushi at the David Jones Food Hall. Fantastic variety including brown rice options which have been all the rage in the unofficial diet capital of the world, Hollywood. Whenever I read a celebrity food article it’s all about brown rice sushi. My local sushi at Innaloo shops does brown rice sushi but this sells out fast. The David Jones ones look and taste spectacular. Do yourself a favour. Now like my teacher friends explain to me when they are telling of a child they use this technique – positive, negative, positive. So I started this treat off with a positive. Now to the negative, back to cafes in Perth being closed on a weekend. I stumbled across the closed Cabin Fever and vowed to try it one day when it was open. Today was the day. It was an long overdue catch up with my uni buddy Rachel and Cabin Fever was the destination. The décor was cute with knick knacks, op shop furniture and books filling the small space. Off to a good start. This is where things turned. The coffee failed us miserably. Both of us were up early and we desperately needed the caffeine hit. It was burnt, bitter and disappointing. So disappointing that I had to complain. The second try was better but still not amazing coffee. My theory is that because the café was relocating the next day we were given the scrappy coffee beans. Rachel had been before and said the coffee was ok. This was sadly not the case this time. Food wise – I have heard great things. My friend Kirsty loves the vegemite and avocado from here. This is what Rachel ordered today and my food envy raged. I love this combination. I decided to branch out and increase my iron levels (after a fainting spell from donating blood I was in short iron supply) by ordering the beef mustard sandwich. I definitely tasted the mustard. My watering eyes could taste the mustard. My nose could taste the mustard. If you couldn’t gather by now there was a lot of mustard in my sandwich. It wasn’t an enjoyable dish for me. I wouldn’t get it again. I don’t eat mustard often so maybe I have a low tolerance. Either way my nasal passages were cleared out thanks to Cornel Mustard. This was my first and only time at Cabin Fever and I left disappointed and teary. However, I think it’s all about timing. I think I need to return to the relocated Cabin Fever and hopefully I’ll have a more positive experience. See what I did there. Turn a negative treat into a positive. So next time I ketch up with friends in the city (see what I did there ketch up instead of catch up) I relish the opportunity of giving Cabin Fever another go.

THE FOOD JOURNEY

I must admit there was a lot of mustard.

I must admit there was a lot of mustard.

THE DESTINATION
David Jones Foodhall Cafe on Urbanspoon

Cabin Fever on Urbanspoon

Quick Treat: Shhhhh it’s a secret

It looks like the only meal I’m eating out and about at the moment is breakfast. Or if it is dinner it is limited only to sashimi. What is going on? I have no idea. Just another phase I’m going through. It’s like the time I went to Jennifer Lopez’s concert and her six-pack inspired me to get fit again. So before I go on a Japanese food bender I’ll give you a couple more breakfast treats. Then after that I promise to spice it up, quite literally as I stumbled upon a Chinese chilli restaurant in Victoria Park that my dad has been wanting to visit. Today I was breakfasting before work with the Myer girls who now all have government jobs in the CBD. We checked out the Secret Garden Cafe on Murray Street in the West end of the city (not to be confused with the Secret Garden Cafe in South Perth which you will meet in an upcoming treat). I was pleasantly surprised to find quite a few brekky options under $10. It’s actually a relief to see eggs on toast on the menu for under $10. They also do breakfast specials everyday where you can get a toastie (eggs, mushroom and spinach on sourdough) with a coffee for $10. What a relief! On Wednesdays you can get eggs on toast any way you like with a coffee for $10. Warning these specials are on the second page of the menu so don’t ignore. I chose the toastie and coffee special and was pleasantly surprised by the generous filling in my sandwich. It wasn’t anything difficult and I know I could easily make it at home but it’s the social aspect I love the most. Getting up early to get a good coffee and have a catch up with friends really is a great way to start my day. I know some people go for runs, I go to cafes. This morning we did have an engaging debate on whether the vegemite should be applied on the bread or come separately so you can spread yourself. Lazy me thinks it should come spread so I was disappointed when I went to Toast in East Perth and had to do all the hard work myself. However, when Kirsty’s vegemite toast was served we all grimaced at the thick level of vegemite without any butter to absorb the rich flavour. The waitress didn’t even have to wait for Kirsty to say anything, she apologised and took the plate away. It was replaced with the vegemite in a bowl ready for Kirsty to spread to her liking. Even simple things like vegemite on toast can be ruined. Let’s open this up for debate. Do you think vegemite should be spread or come separately? If you are looking for a breakfast option under $10 with great coffee then give Secret Garden Cafe a go. Just walk through the alley, walk past Tiger Tiger and there you will find the Secret Garden Cafe with their secret breakfast specials where all you need is a blue note.

THE FOOD JOURNEY

$10 for coffee and a sandwich (that's rare in Perth)

$10 for coffee and a sandwich (that’s rare in Perth)

THE DESTINATION
Secret Garden 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