Posted by erikbigalk on March 19th, 2014

When I first set foot into the stylish hip eatery right opposite Lennox Head Beach in the heart of this quaint little seaside village, I instantly knew I was in for a treat. Greeted by their friendly staff and led to their elaborate bar where the King of Cocktails, F&B manager ‘Schlachter’ seduced us with a decent pre-dinner concoction that let me relax into the tasteful luxurious interior and whetted my appetite for the culinary indulgence that was to follow.

And, we were not to be disappointed. The indulgence commenced with a Keflagraviera with fig, black pepper and fresh lemon, accompanied by a neat sip of the Eden Valley grown Chaffey Brothers Riesling, a perfect pair. It was followed by the Scallops, mango yells, chili jam, mint oil and crispy garlic – absolutely scrumptious and a great blend with the South Australian vino.

We could also not go past a try of the salty spiced fried squid served on a bed of rocket with classic dressing, just to prime us for the mains.

Next was the perfect marriage of sea and land with the caramelized pork belly and King Prawn served with carrot and kafir lime salad with a refreshing coriander flavor penetrating the rich sweet dish, which made this a ‘must-try’ dish and one of the highlights of the evening. Subtly dowsed with a splash of the 2011 Vasse Felix Sav Blanc Semillon from WA’s Margaret River, it was the perfect lubricant.

With personalized service and fluent recommendations of their freshest offering of the day, I perked up. Did you say Paella? I had the best in the world at a wedding in the south of France when my youngest daughter was still less than a year, so trying this one was like trying to rewrite history despite it being a hard act follow. But Australian Good Food Guide ‘Hat’ awarded Andy Wheeler, earned every bit of it, both the hat and the newly awarded (by us) ‘Best Paella’ ever! Back to that wedding Paella, well – this one beat it by a mile. Laden with fresh fruits of the sea, a rich flavor and keeping its oiliness at bay, it impressed everyone on our table, even my review partner being a foodie of Mediterranean decent, and she was impressed to say the least. The Paella was served with a crisp 2011 Corte Giara, Pinot Grigio Veneto from Italy to make the perfect – heavenly.

And, it led us gently onto the sweets department… I couldn’t go past the classic Affogato Frangelico (one of my weaknesses) which was delightful with home-made vanilla ice cream and gorgeous biscotti. We also had to test-drive the prune and dark chocolate brownie with red wine sauce, poached plum and white chocolate mousse. It was simply divine. And, of course we could not resist the coconut & palm sugar cream caramel, an interesting take on the classic with its Lychee, granita and passionfruit side.

With an impressive menu that would send some of Sydney’s best eateries to shame, super friendly staff that knows how to balance the professional with the personal, a wine list perfect for the food on offer and an almost surreal setting of comfortable lounge style seating with direct view of the beach and surf, Ellenix has certainly claimed its place as one of the hottest restaurants on the North Coast. It leaves even the best of Byron Bay in its wake and going by the whispers I have heard, gives ‘Fins’ a run for its fame…   but I let you be the judge of that…

Ellenix, at 90/92 Ballina St. Lennox Head is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. www.ellenix.com.au

My (un-commonly high) Vote
5 out of 5 forks!

By Erik Bigalk – www.erikbigalk.com

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Posted by Travelletto on March 15th, 2014

I gladly accepted an invitation to dine at Aravina Estate in Margaret River, keen to try the food of one of my favourite chefs in his new kitchen. Aravina’s new executive chef Tony Howell made a name for himself winning a legion of fans and numerous awards overs 15 years at Cape Lodge, listed in Condé Nast’s 2012 Gold List and named Best Boutique Hotel in Australia.

From the moment I arrived, I knew I’d be impressed with Aravina Estate. A red Ferrari in the car park, a cute wooden walkway leading to lush lawns lined with eucalyptus, pretty gardens with two dams beyond, vistas of the vineyard, and a magnificent cellar door and restaurant that would not look out of place in the Hamptoms or on the set of hit television show ‘Revenge’. Outside white wooden railings surround a large alfresco terrace dining area that takes advantage of the stunning view. The beautiful grounds have hosted many weddings, including that of winery owner Steve Tobin just a couple of weeks ago.Aravina Estate15

My favourite part, the kitchen garden. Executive Chef Tony Howell was almost frothing at the mouth as he talked about the massive ten-bed garden growing seasonable produce including all manner of herbs, several types of lettuce, zucchini, cucumber, beetroot, chilli, capsicum and much more. More fruit trees have also been planted.

Aravina Estate21

I put my diet on hold and threw my gluten-free ways out the window when whipped truffle butter accompanied freshly baked bread arrived at the table. We shared a number of dishes so we could try as many things as we could possibly fit in.  Aravina Estate06

The pork terrine, mustard fruits, pickled walnuts and persian feta was fantastic. The terrine on its own was rich, but perfect when mixed with the mustard fruits and the phenomenal pickled walnuts.

Aravina Estate09

The seared Esperance scallops avocado tian, tomato and chorizo crumb were delicate, and cooked perfectly. Everything married beautifully.

Aravina Estate08

The special of the day, ricotta stuffed zucchini flower and house smoked salmon – it was divine.

Aravina Estate07

King fish sashimi, asian omelette and ginger jelly was sensational. The asian flavours were perfectly balanced, it was fresh, light, and I could eat that dish every day and not tire of it. It didn’t look as pretty as some other dishes, that look like art in comparison, but taste-wise, it was perfect in every sense.

Aravina Estate11

Smoked goats cheese. Who smokes goat cheese? Chef Tony Howell, that’s who. And it was nothing short of amazing. I’m told he uses local off cut jarrah wood chips, not oak ones that are used in the wine marking process, to smoke things in-house. Teamed with beetroot carpaccio, sous vide celery, orange and some crunchy brioche, this dish is visually stunning. The smoked goats cheese was so delicious, this wins dish of the day for originality and presentation.

Aravina Estate17

The Shark Bay king prawn, compressed pineapple, green papaya, herbs and won ton was crunchy, fresh, and perfect for a hot summer’s day. The Asian flavours were beautifully balanced with the sweetness of the pineapple. It felt healthy to eat.

Aravina Estate12

Time for a refreshing mouth cleanser. Lemon sorbet with lemon and lime sherbet and citrus peel.Aravina Estate16

Feeling absolutely full after sharing the above, we just had one main dish, steamed duck yellow curry, crispy skin, fried peanuts, pickled chilli and herb salad. It looked beautiful on the plate, and smelled fantastic too. One of my lovely dining companions, Sandra, loved this dish – for her, it was the dish of the day. For me, it was too spicy and hot for my chilli-intolerant palate. I don’t mind a bit of heat, but I’m a weakling in that department.

Aravina Estate18

How pretty is this dessert? Compressed watermelon, coconut sorbet, herb syrup, lychee foam, seasonal fruit and sesame crisp. Every element was fantastic and it was beautiful and light. The perfect ending to a decedant lunch.

Verdict:

Add Aravina Estate to your Margaret River itinerary. Not only are there award winning wines to taste and buy, but you can shop, kids can play, you can wander amongst the vines, admire the vegetable garden, and best of all, have a meal you won’t forget.

Tony Howell is producing food as good as he ever has. Despite the increase in covers, the food comes from the same quality local suppliers, is treated with the same respect and attention to detail is evident in every dish. Do yourself a favour and book in now.

My score: 9.5/10 (just lost half a mark because the curry was too hot for my palate)

Disclosure: Dianne Bortoletto was a guest of Aravina Estate. All reviews are based on merit.

This post was also published on Dianne Bortoletto’s blog Travelletto.com.

FACT FILE

Aravina Estate
61 Thornton Road, Yallingup WA 6282
Tel: 08 9235 4600

The Cellar Door and Cafe are open everyday 10am-5pm and the restaurant is open for lunch everyday 11.30am-3pm. Bookings recommended.

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Posted by Travelletto on February 27th, 2014

Duck liver parfait
Duck liver parfait

Swings Taphouse & Kitchen, Margaret River’s newest bar and restaurant, is serving up good honest food made with fresh local produce. Dishes are designed to be shared and the menu is categorised into light, plates, pizzas, sides, sweets and cheese. There’s a good choice of dishes and the prices are very reasonable.

The corner location on the main road in Margaret River town is about three hours drive south of Perth, and worth the drive – for those familiar with Margs it’s where Winos used to be. It’s casual but not slack. The service is fantastic and the food and wine gets the thumbs up.

The fit out is original with tables in the back area set under old-school Hills Hoists clotheslines suspended from the ceiling to double as light fittings.  The front bar is a great place to sit and chat, and the veranda that overlooks the street is a very pleasant place to sit under its covering of vines.

Cool interior fit out complete with good ol'Aussie Hills Hoist clothes line light fitting
Cool interior fit out complete with good ol’Aussie Hills Hoist clothes line light fitting

The duck liver parfait ($13) was silky smooth, rich and creamy and came with delicious wood-fired bread and some pickled veg called picadilli. It was hard not to wolf it all down at once.

Owned by Swings & Roundabouts winery that’s nearby on Caves Road, Swings Taphouse & Kitchen offers the same legendary wood-fired pizzas that the winery has become famous for.

I had to try the pizza and opted for the traditional margarita ($20) – my favourite. If the kitchen can get that right, then it’s always a winner. Swings’ version is good, but if I’m being picky (and nearly always am) for my palate it needed a bit of salt and probably could’ve done with another half-minute in the oven to really crisp up the base. That’s my only criticism of the food served at Swings. Everything else was bang on.

Wood-fired margarita pizza
Wood-fired margarita pizza

The King Fish ceviche with chilli, lime, avocado and coconut ($16) was fresh, colourful, light, beautifully seasoned and delicious to eat. Like a mouthful of summertime, if you could eat summer. The Swings Chardonnay ($7 glass) went down a treat with the ceviche.

King fish ceviche
King fish ceviche

The bright and bubbly pint-sized manager Annie really made my visit to Swings memorable. She answered all my questions, suggested dishes to try, and explained their tap wine. Yes, wine on tap. Read about their wine on tap delivered through ’sight glass fonts’ – a world first in my post. If you’re not hungry, just go and try their wines – they are worthy.

There’s also a selection of ‘guest backyards’ wines, cocktails and beers, and the menu is simple and rustic, designed for sharing, and with an emphasis on fresh, local and sustainable produce.

FACT FILE

Swings Taphouse & Kitchen
85 Bussell Highway, Margaret River, WA
Tel: 08 9758 7155
swings.com.au

Open from 10am daily, Swings Taphouse & Kitchen serves brunch, ‘brinks’, lunch and dinner
Swings Taphouse on Urbanspoon

Disclosure: Dianne Bortoletto was a guest of Augusta Margaret River Tourism Association and Swings Taphouse & Kitchen

This article was also posted on Travelletto.com. For more articles by Dianne Bortoletto, visit Travelletto.com

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Posted by Travelletto on November 10th, 2013

Ace Pizza is in Perth’s inner city suburb, Highgate,. It’s run by the same people that run Cantina 663, a favourite of mine. There has been a lot of hype around Ace Pizza, many touting it as the best pizza in Perth.

Finding the entrance can be tricky – it’s not at the front of the building, but down the alley on the side. Walking in, the huge floor to ceiling wooden framed windows and a neon pizza sign hanging above a dark mural on the wall an make an impact.  The place is buzzing and it’s barely 6.30pm.  Cosy circular booths flank on wall, high tables and with swivel chairs flank the other wall and there are tables running both sides down a middle partition. The high ceiling  is patterned with large decorative domes and the place it lit with stage lights.

The service is snappy with friendly Gen Y’s efficiently taking our drinks order – and even waited patiently while we debated if we’d ever seen Peroni beer in a can before. Apparently, Ace Pizza is the only place in Perth that has Peroni by the can. I ordered an Aperol Spritz, my favourite Italian aperitif. It was fine, topped with too much soda (should really be just a dash – like the way the Italians make it), and I would have preferred more Aperol. Normally the taste of an Aperol Spritz evokes memories of Rome, but this one didn’t.

The menu is small with some traditional pizzas like the Margherita, although Ace Pizza calls their’s “the o.p” ($17) – I’m not sure why. We ordered that, a Pig Town with pepperoni, pancetta, pecorino, onion, mozzarella and san marzano tomato ($24), and the Lincoln Lady with hot salami, anchovies, olives, mozzarella, and san marzano tomato ($20) – ssshh, don’t tell anyone but we ordered it without without the hot salami. Our waitress told us they don’t normally permit topping changes and checked with the kitchen before accepting our order.

Margherita aka "the o.p" at Ace Pizza
Margherita aka “the o.p” at Ace Pizza

My theory is that you judge a good pizza place by their Margherita.  Ace Pizza’s version is quite good, but it could have done with another minute in the wood-fired oven. The thin base wasn’t crisp enough in the centre making each slice flop when held. The topping was good – the tomato sauce was well seasoned, the cheese was used sparingly which I think is best (or the pizza gets too sloppy), and fresh basil leaves added after cooking.

It’s not as good as Neighborhood Pizza’s Margherita, which I maintain to be the best pizza place in Perth. Neighborhood Pizza’s wood fired oven consistently cooks  thin and crisp base and they make a  rich tomato sauce that is packed full of flavour, like it has been cooked down for hours.

Pig Town pizza
Pig Town pizza

The Pig Town pizza wasn’t for me only because the pepperoni was too spicy for my mild palate. The crust was thin, crisp on the outer edge, same well-seasoned tomato base sauce, and thankfully, well cooked red onions.

The Lincoln Lady pizza crust was like the other two, crisp on the edge and a bit droopy in the centre. Anchovies packed a salty punch along with the olives. Overall, the Margherita was the best pizza we ordered.

Tiramisu donut
Tiramisu donut
Tiramisu donut
Tiramisu donut

For dessert, I had to try the tiramisu donut ($5), which sounded like a dream. The reality was nothing like the dream, and nothing like a tiramisu. Really, they should call it something else because a tiramisu paints a picture of soft sponge layers, strong coffee laced with liqueur, and sweet creamy mascarpone. What I got was what looked like jam donut, topped with crunchy shards of sugar, and filled with a chocolatey ice-cream with crushed nuts, which oozed out and was described by one of my dining companions as looking like bird poo.

It was a cold dessert and between three of us, we left half of it to be taken away by the waitress. Perhaps the bird poo comment put us all off. It was not memorable in a good way, not as light and pillowy as other jam donuts I’ve had. I was full from pizza and it wasn’t good enough for me to force myself to eat it.

Two other desserts feature on the menu: nemesis choc cake ($11) and ace soft serve ($7).

VERDICT

The atmosphere at Ace Pizza is great, albeit quite loud so hard to hear each other speak.  The service is good, the prices are very reasonable, and the pizza is okay, pretty good even. Out of ten, I’d give Ace Pizza a score of 7.5.

FACT FILE

Ace Pizza
448 Beaufort St, Highgate
Tel 0499 448 000

http://www.acepizza.com.au

Open 7 days from 5.30pm til late

For more posts by Dianne Bortoletto, visit her blog www.travelletto.com

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Posted by erikbigalk on October 17th, 2013

For years now, droves of Aussies have been pouring into Bali for a quick getaway, extended holiday or warm-weather winter break; however some come with a touch of caution around the food there. With the Bali-Belly having made a name for itself, choosing where to eat and what, seems to be a common recommendation in travel guides. As such,the where to eat is often approached with the same caution as is flowing through the traffic on rented scooters, negotiating reasonable purchase prices for souvenirs or dealing with keen sales folk in the streets.

When it comes to Ubud’s culinary landscape, bridges restaurant has earned its place among the best. Not by way of bold marketing or booking hordes of tourists to their tables, but by ensuring western standards in service, hygiene and extensive menu choices with the traditional influence of Balinese cuisine. Restaurant founder Claude Chouinard himself has spent years traveling the world, eating from the streets to the best of town with mixed experiences. This meant eating out most of the time, with varied experiences (not so nice in some cases), which lead him to open bridges restaurant in Ubud with a strong commitment to exquisite flavours, broad menu choices, top quality ingredients, cleanliness, excellent service and of course a wide selection of wines.

Perhaps, it is the imported Australian meats, the Aussie chef-trained kitchen brigade, the front-of-house staff trained to international standards or simply the delicious choices his restaurant presents, but Australian visitors to the yoga, arts and healing capital of Bali have voted bridges as the #1 casual fine dining restaurant in Ubud. With a big part of the visitors to the renowned eatery coming from Down-Under, it is not surprising that Aussie diners find their way back again and again. And, according to Claude Chouinard, also send their friends. “Some even plan their next stay to include bridges just like they do for the traditional dances, local markets and rice field trips,” he says.

As such, I went to find out for myself during my recent Bali visit and was left feeling nothing short of nurtured and delighted with bridges’ offering. From the entreés and Indonesian tapas to the Italian influenced dishes, their meats and fresh seafood, I was taken by their exquisite flavours, professional service and immaculate presentation. Add to that one of the widest selections of wines from the world over and the ambience of the location overlooking Wos River with its jungle walls dropping from the double bridges near Blanco Museum to the river bed below, all made my experience memorable to say the least. I am not surprised at all about the strong Australian following this unique eatery enjoys confirmed by their endless positive comments in their guest book and on TripAdviser. It earned my Aussie stamp of approval too.

Erik Bigalk is a freelance travel writer having reviewed restaurants in Australia, New Zealand, SE Asia and Europe, www.erikbigalk.com.au

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Posted by Food Wine Sleep on September 26th, 2013

Flavours of Malaysia

Flavours of Malaysia is back to take you on another adventurous journey of gastronomy discovery! From 26 September to 13 October the Grace Brasserie will be transformed into a culinary exploration of Malaysian food as guests are invited to taste an aromatic menu prepared by Malaysian Chefs specially flown in from Kuala Lumpur.
This year Head Chef Tan Kok Siong and his team will highlight specialty dishes from the Southern States of Malaysia, specifically Negeri Sembilan, Melaka and Johor. Guests will enjoy well-loved local recipes, authentic Nyona specialties, traditional slow food of rendang, fresh healthy organic ulam salad, succulent seafood, tasty meat dishes, and delectable desserts.

The Grace Hotel
will once again be partnering with Tourism Malaysia and Malaysia Airlines. Guests will have the chance to win great prizes such as a return ticket on Malaysia Airlines’ to Malaysia (ex-Sydney) with two nights accommodation in the luxurious 10rooms at Hotel Capitol Kuala Lumpur, centrally located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur close to the finest shopping, dining, and entertainment.


The Southern States of Malaysia – Negeri Sembilan, Melaka and Johor

Negeri Sembilan, is located about 50 km South of Kuala Lumpur. Rich in culture and history, Negeri Sembilan has a prevalent influence of Minangkabau culture. Traditional Negeri Sembilan food is hot and spicy as one of the ingredients used is the chili padi, the hottest of chillies. Popular dishes include Rendang, (a deliciously thick traditional dry meat curry). Authentic local favourites include Masak Lemak Cili Api (beef, chicken or fish simmered in coconut milk with extra hot chilli and aromatic herbs), Rendang Minangkabau (Beef Rendang cooked Minangkabau style), Rendang Ayam Negeri Sembilan (Chicken Rendang) and Udang Goreng Chili Padi (Hot & Spicy Prawns).

Melaka, is located between the states of Negeri Sembilan and Johor. The historic state is home to the UNESCO World Heritage City of Melaka. Melaka is famous for delicious Baba Nyonya food as well as Portuguese food. Favourite dishes include Nyonya Laksa (served with herbs finely sliced cucumber on top), Ayam Tempra (Braised Soy Sauce Chicken), Melaka Satay Celup (Steamboat Satay, an assortment of raw and semi-cooked seafood, meat and vegetables on skewers dunked in spicy peanut sauce unique to Melaka), Melaka Rojak (mixed fruits with kangkung vegetables) as well as the popular Chicken Rice Balls of Melaka.

Johor is the Southern gateway to Malaysia. Mouth-watering Johor specialties include Laksa Johor (scrumptious blend of spaghetti, fish curry gravy and vegetables), Lontong (rice cubes with rich vegetable gravy), Sayur Lodeh (assorted vegetable, stewed in coconut milk), Mee Rebus (a noodle dish which consists of mee or yellow noodle, served with tangy, spicy brown gravy, and then topped with condiments) as well as Mee Soto (a special soup served with peanut, beansprout and chicken meat and rice).

It is indeed a culinary adventure not to be missed!

Flavours of Malaysia is available daily for:Lunch Buffet: Tuesday to Friday from 12.00 to 2.00pm and Sunday from 12.30 to 2.30pm
Dinner Buffet: Friday and Saturday from 6.00 to 9.00pm

$40 Lunch Buffet, Tuesday to Friday

$50 Lunch Buffet, Sunday

$50 Dinner Buffet, Friday & Saturday

For more information or reservations call (02) 9272 6670 or

email restaurant.reservations@gracehotel.com.au

The Grace Hotel Sydney – In the heart of Sydney

www.gracehotel.com.au

The landmark Grace Building is a historic building located in Sydney and plays an important role in the history of Sydney, and Australia. Inspired by the neo-Gothic Tribune Tower in Chicago headquarters of the Chicago Tribune, the Grace building is of Art Deco architectural style and had state-of-the-art innovations and facilities for the time. It was built by the Grace Bros. retail empire and remains one of Sydney’s best known examples of pre-war architecture strategically located on the corner of York, Clarence and King streets, the jewel in the crown of their retail empire. Today the Grace Building has come into its own as one of Australia’s best known hotels located within a grand heritage building.
10Rooms occupy the 9th, 10th and 11th floors of the award winning 1930’s heritage listed Art Deco building, The Grace Hotel. 10Rooms at The Grace Hotel Sydney offers a unique option for travellers who are tired of the same repetitive interiors and generic layouts.
Located at the heart of Sydney’s Central Business District, the Hotel is a short stroll away from Martin Place, Queen Victoria Building, Darling Harbour’s Convention & Exhibition Centre, Cockle Bay and King Street Wharf, Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney’s luxury shopping precincts, theatres, galleries, museums and restaurants, cinemas, Sydney Casino, Chinatown and more.

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Posted by Travelletto on August 5th, 2013

Nestled in Perth’s northern suburb of Inglewood you’ll find Il Pasto on the corner of Beaufort St and Ninth Avenue.  It was so busy on a Saturday night, that when friends rang to book the day before, the only choice for table for five was at 6pm or 8.30pm.  We opted for the later table and were pleasantly surprised when the restaurant called to day our table was ready earlier.  We were seated by 8pm.

I was immediately impresses when I walked in. Every table was full of smartly dressed diners, many looking European, chatting away. A good sign. The interior was smartly decorated and had an elegant and comfortable feel.

Photo from www.ilpasto.com.au
Photo from www.ilpasto.com.au

The menu was good, offering good selections of antipasti, pasta, mains, sides, and desserts. One advantage to sitting so close to other tables is that it’s easy to see what they are eating – if you are like me and like to look at the dishes before ordering. Upon seeing the next table’s mains and the generous portion sizes, we opted to share antipasti for entree.

I was so happy to see marinated white anchovies ($12) on the menu – a favourite of ours when we were in Sicily last year. The whole menu in fact is influenced by Sicilian food. Forget the salty hairy fish found on cheap pizza that make kids say “gross”,these anchovies were light and delicate, marinated in a vinaigrette, and very moorish. The big green Sicilian olives ($6) were meaty and firm, and the dried pork fennel sausage ($7) tasted home made and had a touch of spice.  A great start.

Marinated anchovies, chorizio and Sicilian Olives
Marinated anchovies, chorizio and Sicilian Olives
Marinated white anchovies
Marinated white anchovies

Zorba opted for Paccheri alla Siciliana:  Large tubes of pasta, anchovies, chilli, tomato, basil, baby capers topped with sheep’s milk Pecorino Debbene Biologico ($25).  He enjoyed it and when I tasted it, I reached for my glass of sparkling Italian water – it was spicy!  Then again, I’m such a softy for chilli and usually find anything with chilli in it too hot.

Pacchieri alla Siciliana
Pacchieri alla Siciliana

My main meal was the winning choice of the night.  Paccheri, zucchini e frutti di mare: Large tubes of pasta tossed through finely chopped Morton Bay bug meat, tiger prawns, crab, zucchini,EVOO and cherry tomato topped with fresh herbs ($34).  The pasta was perfectly cooked, the seafood was sweet, the zucchini added texture, and every mouthful was a delight.

Pacchieri with zucchini e frutta di mare
Pacchieri with zucchini e frutta di mare

The service was attentive and friendly, and everyone around the table enjoyed their meals.  Despite the portion size, we all left our plates clean.  Best thing of all, you can match this great food with your own favourite wine. It’s BYO ($3 corkage per bottle).

The desserts looked and sounded tempting – Torta Caprese, Tiramisu, Cassatta (all $12), but we were full and totally satisfied. We decided to stop there rather than keep eating and leaving feeling disgustingly full. Sometimes less is more.

Our bill, split between five people, came to just over $40pp. Very reasonable and for the quality of the food, service, and ambience, i thought it was actually very good value. Thumbs up from this discerning Italian restaurant critic!

If you like delicious travel adventures or would like to read more blog posts from this author, visit www.travelletto.com

Verdict: Quality food, service, and good value for money with a comfortable elegant setting. It’s busy on weekends and probably not the best for a romantic night if you want to talk in private as tables are close together. Otherwise, it’s a great choice. Bookings a must.

FACT FILE

Il Pasto
cnr Ninth Ave and Beaufort St, Inglewood, WA
Tel: 08 9271 7870

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Posted by Food Wine Sleep on July 26th, 2013

Cocktail Party Venues

cocktail party venues
 party venues

If you’re wondering where to party, you wouldn’t go wrong if you looked at A LIST Guide’s selection of bars, function centres, function rooms, and halls; they make for great cocktail, wedding, private party and birthday venues. Venue rooms or complete venues for hire are also great party venues.

A LIST Guide’s venue directory lets you search for venues based on your required capacity. There are bars, boats and cruisers, hotels, open plan venues, outdoor venues, restaurants and unique venues which can suit your needs. You might consider venues like the ACMI, Carousel, or Golden Monkey, among others, for parties in . If you’re searching for venues for a party or birthday venues, then browse A LIST Guide’s venue directory.

Browse cocktail party venues in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, Darwin, The Gold Coast, and more. Find cocktail party venues in NSW, VIC, ACT, TAS, QLD, NT, SA & WA.

Tags: cocktail party venues, cocktail party venue, cocktail party venues adelaide, cocktail party venues perth, cocktail party venue sydney, cocktail party venues melbourne, cocktail party venues sydney, cocktail party venues brisbane, cocktail party venue brisbane, cocktail party venue melbourne, sydney cocktail party venues

Posted by Travelletto on June 9th, 2013

I was delighted when I received an invitation to dine at Fuku Omakase and Teppanyaki restaurant in Mosman Park, Perth.

Finding the restaurant address was easy. Once we arrived though, the entrance was a little mysterious. Under the Fuku street sign was a closed gold door and an intercom buzzer on the wall. I pressed the buzzer and the door slid open to reveal an intimate teppanyaki restaurant with just 16 bench seats flanking two central BBQs. The back wall was lined with sake bottles, the lighting was soft and behind the BBQs was a very cool glass mural in gold colours featuring a couple of Japanese women with hair in a bun. It was very sophisticated fit out and I immediately knew we were in for a treat.

Fuku 22Our lovely host for the night, Milan and our waiter greeted us warmly. We were offered sake, served cold (only average quality sake is served warm), and informed that we would be enjoying the 8-course ‘better’ menu ($135 pp).  There are two other menus offered at Fuku, the ‘good’ 4-course menu ($100 pp), and the ‘best’ 10-course menu ($220 pp). There is also a ‘walk in’ menu ($75 pp).

Fuku 23

The sake menu lists 30+ different types ranging in price from $25 for 220ml pot to $340 for 1.8 litre bottle. If you don’t finish your bottle of sake, and you’d be doing well to finish one and still be able to have control of bodily functions, you can take it home with you.  Nice.

The small but precise wine list offers everything by the glass and the bottle, besides the dozen wines listed on the ‘reserve’ list.  A wine and a sake degustation matching is offered (both at $75 pp).

Our sake was cold and very smooth. It was not the throat stripping harsh sake I have memories of.  It reminded me of a softer tasting grappa. I really enjoyed it, but made a mental note to pace myself as it’s is quite potent.Fuku 03

Onto the food, our first course:  kawa ebi and sun dried crispy nori sheet.  In a cute red single mini-bento box came lightly battered deep fried whole baby prawn, head and all. As they say, when in Rome… I tried one and was hooked.

The prawns were crispy and the taste was similar to whitebait that my Nonna used to cook. They were salty too, which I loved. The thick nori sheet was very pleasant to crunch into.

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Second course: Small morsels (otsumami) – featuring deep fried oyster with ginger salsa, snapper with ponzu, wagyu beef with sesame sauce, marinated octopus, and deep fried crispy soba noodles. The fan shaped soba noodles were amazing – crunchy, salty, and made me want to have a whole plate with a pint or two of cold beer. The wagu beef was smokey tasting and so tender, quickly dissolving on my tongue. The ginger salsa lifted the fried oyster but was subtle and delicate and not overpowering like some ginger dishes can be.

Fuku 07

Third course: Sashimi. I love sashimi, really, really. I could eat it every day and be happy. Fuku’s is no exception. The salmon and tuna was A-grade quality, soft and delicate. The snapper wrapped in japanese pickle was the dish’s standout component adding a sweet and sour twist. I loved it.

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Fuku 10

Fourth course: Quail on the BBQ. The boned quail was cooked on the hotplate and then chargrilled to add delicate smokey tones through the tender meat. Served in a soba bean pancake with small slices of tomato and cucumber and a szechuan pepper sauce.  The meat was perfectly cooked and tender, the pancakes were light and together, this dish was well balanced and was my dish of the night.

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Fuku 11

Fifth course:  Scallop, prawn and crispy prawn head. I was impressed with Chef Jaymon’s teppanyaki skill – he de-veined the prawns using BBQ utensils as the prawns cooked on the hot plate.  The dramatic teppanyaki show was in full force as the chef created huge flames on the BBQ, much to our delight.  The prawns and scallop were served with sea urchin butter. The crispy prawn head was something I wasn’t looking forward to, but it was actually tasty, crunchy and had clean prawn flavour. My scallop probably needed another minute on the BBQ to cook all the way through. This dish was pleasant, but fell flat after the previous amazing four courses.

Sixth course: Fish of the day, red emperor with lotus root, mushroom with a Japanese citrus miso sauce. The sauce was tangy without being harsh. It was beautifully presented on folded leaves. A well balanced dish.

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Seventh course:  Wagyu sirloin steak Mayura Station grade 9+, fried rice with wagyu flavour. This dish provided quite a cheffy show. Chef Jaymon was spinning and juggling the salt and pepper grinders, spatula, and tongs, doing a great job with the obligatory ‘tap’ of the said implements onto the surface. The most impressive of his tricks was throwing a raw egg up into the air and catching it on the side of the BBQ spatula, causing it to crack and gently plop onto the hotplate.

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As he cooked and sliced the steak on the hot plate, after checking with each of us how we like our steak cooked, he was multitasking and making the fried rice, that soaked up the meaty wagyu juices.  The fried rice was shaped into a love heart – sweet. With a single onion ring, he stacked each ring layer to form an onion pyramid, which he lit and turned into an onion volcano, cutely naming it Mount Fuji.

The steak was nothing short of amazing. It was juicy, tender, and quickly melted on my tongue. It was dressed with soy and garlic, absolutely beautifully cooked.   The rice was too much for me. Zorba ate his bowl, then my bowl. No wastage when there’s food-loving Greek at the table.

Fuku 24.

Eighth course: Yuzu cheesecake with chocolate drink and mountain peach.  Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit and a mountain peach is a tiny peach-tasting fruit that is about the size of an olive. The chocolate drink was thick and not too sweet. The cheese cake was creamy and came with a wasabi foam, which is an unusual addition to a dessert, yet it worked.

The service every step of the way was first class. Our waiter patiently answered our questions without any hint of snobbery. Chef Jaymon has been with Fuku since it opened seven month ago in October last year.  He has the soft warm nature that many Philipinos have, and loves living and working in Perth.

“The people in Perth are friendly and our customers are so nice. Not like where I worked in Cyrprus, people there were not happy and a bit mean.  My wife likes living here – happy wife…!’ Jaymon said, with a smile.

Even the toilets are something worthwhile experiencing. They have heated seats and an electronic panel with a multitude of options for cleaning ‘down there’ as you sit. It’s a Japanese thing apparently!

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Verdict:  For a special night out, treat yourself to Fuku. It’s more than dinner, it’s gastronomic entertainment, as well as being completely pleasing on the palate. It is expensive, but the quality of everything is A-grade, so the value is there.  If you like Japanese food, you will love Fuku. If you have never tried Teppanyaki, Fuki will be your perfect introduction to the Japanese BBQ.

FACT FILE

Fuku Omakase and Teppanyaki
20 Glyde Street, Mosman Park
Tel: 0403 470 964

Disclosure: Travelletto dined with compliments of Fuku. This post was also published on Dianne Bortoletto’s blog, www.travelletto.com

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Posted by Travelletto on May 18th, 2013

Would you expect to find good food at a Perth CBD underground bar named after a Kalgoorlie Show Girl? The answer is yes. Let me introduce you to Lalla Rookh, downstairs on St Georges Terrace near the William Street junction.

LallaRookh1

Walking in, I was immediately impressed with the circular space of the outdoor courtyard complete with vertical gardens framed like expensive artwork.  The spacious bar area included a large screen TV but has enough nook and crannies to feel cosy and intimate, and the restaurant has a classy yet welcoming fit.  Despite covering 800 square metres, the place didn’t feel big and empty. The different areas flowed from one to the other nicely and on a Friday night, it was busy with city’s after work crowd.

Our party of five was seated in the restaurant, sans booking, without any drama.  My chosen aperitif, a Sloely Surely cocktail ($16) with aperol, gin, sparkling wine and soda was not too sweet, not too sour, and didn’t have a strong alcoholic taste. It was smooth, balanced and delicious. Another friend’s margherita had an overly salty taste, and it wasn’t just coming from the salted rim. The wine list has enough options by the glass to suit most palates.

The menu is divided into small share plates, pizzas, pasta, main, and dessert. It promotes  two chef’s choice banquets, available for the entire table only at $39 and $49 per person.  One of our party has shell fish allergy and is pregnant, so we asked if four could have the chef’s choice for $49 each and the fifth just order a pasta dish.  Since we were sitting on a table designed for four, with an extra chair tacked onto the end, we thought our request was reasonable. The kitchen refused and our request declined. With a shrug of the shoulders, we chose a few dishes from the menu to share that ended up costing us $25 per head. Their loss – they could have doubled their money with us had they played nice. Not to worry.

Buffalo mozzarella with mushroom compote
Buffalo mozzarella with mushroom compote

The specials for the night were lard wrapped prawns with aioli, and buffalo mozzarella with mushroom compote. The prawns were cooked perfectly and the aioli complemented them beautifully.  The buffalo mozzarella balls were fridge cold and not as soft as others I’ve had. The mushroom compote was deep with mushroom flavour and lusciously smooth, however, none of us felt it was a good accompaniment to the buffalo mozzarella. The mushroom compote would have been lovely with penne pasta.

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The baccala al latte with ricotta gnocchi ($16) was a winner. The mix of textures of the soft light dumplings topped with stewed cod fish that was beautifully seasoned was interesting to eat and was our table’s dish of the night.

Ricotta gnocchi with stewed bacala
Ricotta gnocchi with stewed bacala

We also ordered a main pasta dish, pappardelle with wild rabbit, chestnuts and prunes ($25) sounds as interesting as it tasted. The pasta was perfect – silky and al dente. The sauce included small chunks of meat, and sadly, a little bone.  The chestnut and prune flavours were blended beautifully but were not pronounced. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Pappardelle with wild rabbit, chestnut and prunes
Pappardelle with wild rabbit, chestnut and prunes

The service was adequate and polite. I felt a little sorry for the waitress who had to repeat everything she told us because those at the other end of the table couldn’t hear her. The atmosphere is buzzy, if slightly noisy. Perhaps the interior could benefit from soft furnishings to tone down the bouncing noise?

Verdict:  A great choice for an after work drink and dinner in the city. Order the ricotta gnocchi with bacala.

FACT FILE

Lalla Rookh Bar and Eating House
Lower Ground Floor, 77 St Georges Terrace, Perth 6000
Tel: 08 9325 7077

Open Monday to Saturday for lunch and dinner until late.

For other posts by Travelletto, visit www.travelletto.com. Follow me on Facebook to stay up to date

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