Saturday, November 03, 2018

Asian Spice Asian Urban Cuisine (Legian Bali) 11/2018

This, like lots of other areas in Bali is packed with tourists, and restaurants. We were looking for a Rijsttafel, literally 'rice table'. This Dutch word refers to an Indonesian meal made up of a large number of small dishes served with rice. There may be 40 or more but we only got eight plus sauces and rice.
Indian Spice is a barn like restaurant on the main street of Legian. It is simply decorated 

with a long bar overlooked by a mural of five attractive ladies.
There's nothing elaborate here with simple table settings and menus offering photographs of all their dishes.
It's a very friendly place, as most of Bali is.

Our meal started with a peculiar (to us) soup with some small pieces of chicken, some baby pumpkin, which tasted a little like cucumber and something like very small pieces of dumpling. It was mild in taste but I have no idea how to describe it!
Next came the Rijsttafel. We were served BBQ'd prawns, saté chicken, calamari curry, fish cooked in banana leaf, battered fish, sambal, some sort of shallot salad, some tomato, a sweet sauce, a hot sauce and rice.
A meal that went very well with beer rather than wine.
The meal finished with a dessert - banana fritters with ice cream. 
Thick over fried batter did nothing to improve our feeling about this meal. There was nothing elegant  about this meal. Each dish had it's distinct taste and everything was tender but there was no delicacy about anything either. Certainly not a place I would ever consider returning to.
Score: 10/20

Camden Hotel (Caulfield) 11/2018


All this signage might give one the idea that this is a drinking place, which, of course, it is but it's also a place that serves fairly decent food at quite modest prices.
 It's unpretentious with basic table settings

 in a large open room with a central bar.
We'd heard that their large flounder was particularly good so that had to be top of our choices. 
What sort of soup do you have we asked. Surprisingly soup is not available, it's not on the menu but there's enough to chose from.
So, first the flounder. It comes with chips 

or mash and a small salad on top of it.

It was not very big but it was plump moist and very tasty.  
I decided on a porterhouse steak. As usual I requested it be served 'blue' that is seared on the outside and just warm in the centre. 
Not as usual that was exactly how I did get it!! Served with mash and a mushroom sauce it was as good as it gets. 
 We were not sure they could do this well again but we thought it well worth a try. Sandra had the flounder again which was pretty well identical to the first one and I chose a veal cutlet with potato Gratin.
I have a particular aversion to eating charcoal and sent the gratin back to be replaced by chips.The veal was excellent. This time we tried the desserts.
The lava cake 
was overcooked, slightly burned and dry. Very disappointing. 
The apple and rhubarb crumble was a bit sour 
but quite acceptable. 
As the famous Greek philosopher rightly said 'You can't step into the same river twice" and that proved right here.
Will we go there again? Sure we will. 
Score:13.75/20

Matilda (South Yarra) 10/2018

It's not usual that Sandra and I disagree about a restaurant to more than a minimal degree. Matilda, named after Scott Pickett's daughter, was the exception.
I liked the simple, understated decor, although the chairs could be uncomfortable there is plenty of cushioned seating around the walls.
The attempt at noise reduction with the sound absorbing ceiling is admirable and not unattractive 

but not very effective.
I found the quiet woodwork, Australian themed decor 


appealing and the toilets clean and attractively set out.
The food was not without it's problems. 
you can't go far wrong with oysters, which were fine
A kingfish ceviche had a lot of cucumber and other ingredients which were not kingfish. 

OK if you like cucumber a lot.
Octopus was a bit overdone

but nothing compared to the flat bread which was burnt. 
Excusable for a bush BBQ but I would never choose to eat charcoal as part of my meal at a restaurant.
Spanner crab, described as the go to dish in the current AGFG, is a delicate dish. Attractively served here, with plenty of crab meat,

the taste was drowned out by the accompanying sauce. 
A vegetarian mushroom dish was quite nice but for me the best dish by far was the duck served as a breast 

With the legs and a duck rillette served on a separate plate. 
 Score: Sandra 13.5 Elliot 15.5

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Sapphire (Newcastle, NSW) 08/10/2018

We don't often go to Indian restaurants because Sandra has a sensitivity to chili, perhaps even an allergy, but arriving in Newcastle alone at dinner time after only a scanty snack  on the plane I was happy to take the opportunity to try Newcastle's reputedly best home style Indian cuisine. 
Sapphire, a precious gemstone, often worn by Royalty, especially the brilliant blue as seen in Kate Middleton's wedding ring, found in Eastern Australia, Sri Lanka, North Africa, Madagascar and a few other places including Thailand Vietnam, China but rarely does India get a mention! Did you notice it's spelt with two p's?
On a corner with windows looking out onto the street, 
there was no problem getting a table. The place is simply furnished, 

tables have, easy to clean, plastic cloths and comfortable soft high backed chairs.
There is a bar as you enter but 

BYO is fine too.
Before anything crisp papadams were served with a mint sauce.

If there was a problem it was due to the extensive menu.Chicken 65 looked intriguing - supposedly chicken in 65 spices. Not too hot that looked like the place to start.

Probably there were eight or even 10 spices but they were indistinguishable and unidentifiable. (I might add that the average reader probably knows more about Indian food than I do!) Regardless it was very pleasing, quite a big serve and hard to stop eating but there were other things I wanted to try.
They had a lot of vegan, vegetarian and gluten free meals but the goat dishes (with bones) looked appealing and I settled on Khadai goat. 
It was full of ribs, surely cooked for hours  to make the meat so tender. It was a fine dish, quite mild and, with a great bowl of Basmati rice, 

and more mint sauce.  I loved it.
I had a mango khulfi for dessert at a ridiculous price $4.50
Comments: Would I come back again? You betcha 
Score: 14.5/20 

Friday, September 28, 2018

Origin Nepal (Canberra) 09/2018

In Canberra rather late I wandered around Northbourne Ave and precinct looking for a good place to eat. 
There were stacks of restaurants but the all seemed very mundane so I chose something a bit different. 
Origin Nepal is very much a place serving traditional Nepalese food. There's a brief menu on a black board outside the door.
The restaurant occupies along room 

which, at 9.00 pm, had only four customers left although it could seat about 50 at it's white clothed paper covered tables.
Decor is very simple.
I chose a classic lamb curry with an accompanying soupy dahl and some fresh and cooked vegetables and rice.

 Not too hot it was a substantial meal.
The lamb, in a herb sauce, was tender and tasted good

The vegetables interesting,
The dahl mild and inoffensive
and the fresh vegetables gave relief from the heat of the dish.

For dessert I had mango and ginger kulfi with jaman.
Among the worst desserts I have ever eaten. Mild mango taste, almost no ginger flavour and the kulfi hard and full of icicles.
It detracted badly from what was otherwise a pleasant meal.
Score:13.25 /20