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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bites: Ribauldo’s @ Como

While it is hard to not fall head over heels with a Italian model or sports car, it is probably even harder to not drool over good Italian food. When a coupon website promoted an Italian 3-course meal for two @ $49, I was SOLD!  Many times have I passed the Kwinana freeway but I have never noticed this little eatery tucked among the many dwellings on Melville Parade. Ironically though both D’Tandoor and Pagoda on the same row were more noticeable with their bright  neon blue and red sign boards which reminds me of a certain place in Bangkok.   After calling countless of times, we finally managed a slot yesterday night.  As of now, my list of good Italian food consists of Spaghi’s or Ciao Italia which all in car terms would have been supercars these day. So how did Ribauldo’s fare in this stiff competition? Well head down to see what we ordered ;)!


Bread was a mix of hard and some crispy. A balsamic and olive oil mix has been a favourite of mine although Bruschetta is still my no.1 :)!  However, my housemate Nee taught otherwise and felt that the offerings in another restaurant was better.  But hmm, thinking of what she said, I too realise that the balsamic vinegar felt lacking.  Perhaps it was a little sweetness that was needed.  I did not eat the olives by the way, never liked the flavour ahah.  But fishman said it adds a unique flavour to the bread!


A fresh garden salad was next and all I can say is MOOOOOOOOoooooooooo!


Fishman kept complaining that the little darling and I are unhealthy because we refuse to even touch it but blahhh!! I wanted to keep my stomach for the mains and dessert :P!


Now that we have reached the mains, I clearly understand why the patrons are divided over the food served at Ribaudo’s!  While most of the mains were decent, one was just atrocious! We ordered the following:


The Spaghetti Marinara had tiger prawns, fish, calamari, cooked in a sauce with garlic, onions, white wine, tomato, Basil and chilli, finished with fresh parsley and lemon.  End product?  A very delicious Marinara that carried a subtle seafood fragrant while packing  loads of taste in each strand of pasta.  The seafood presented was odourless with a strong garlic taste and a hint of spiciness.  For me, this was the winner of the night.  Fishman being a lover of seafood had plenty to comment on the way Australians misuse the word tiger prawn.  He said the size of the tiger prawns here are pretty much the same size as the head of the tiger prawns he gets back in Malaysia.  I cannot help but agree too.  However, the optically miniscule prawns did not stop him from loving this tongue-tastic pasta!!!  Nee Nee liked this too but the little darling did not have any because she is unfortunately allergic to seafood.



This next dish was really tiny! Vitello alla Griglia or grilled organic veal medallions served with creamy mashed potato finished with a red jus! As the veal slices were really small, it was hard for it not to be cooked through.  The end result was a slightly tougher than usual slice of meat which to my housemates and I is a little tiring to eat.  The mash tended to be dense and still had small bits of potatoes.  Not quite sure whether this was intentional or not but it was edible! Over all, a decent but not really recommended dish!



The next dish was the Lasagne con Pollo  or sheets of pasta layered with chicken sugo, Béchamel, Parmesan and Mozzarella.  While the initial impressions were good, a spoon of it had me think otherwise.  Overcooked pasta sheets which literally disintegrate  was not quite the way I would have liked it.  The chicken sugo were like broken bits of chicken tasting clay. The cream sauce was not enough to moisten the whole experience and hmm.  Ok put it this way.  I did not like it, neither did fishman and Nee Nee.  Little darling kept mum for the moment ahah! 



Lastly was the Pizza de Carne which had a good topping of chicken, olives and mushroom.  The cheese was enough, the chicken tasty but the crust was all but hmm not quite there yet.  Go around our dining table and you will find half eaten pizza crusts.  You then cannot help but conclude that the crust just did not satisfy!!


But it was not all doom and gloom even though the mains did not quite put up the show we expected.  Nonetheless, move over main and welcome the desserts!


The Vanilla and Raspberry Panna cotta served with Raspberry Coulis and Fresh Strawberry


Chocolate and Almond Semi Freddo served with Raspberry Coulis and Dusted with Cocoa


Both desserts turned out well for us. Without a doubt, the favourite for the night was the panna cotta which was uber smooth and to me I though it was very carefully served too!  Taking small scoops and a paying attention to the dessert, the little darling found a small layer of white chocolate at the bottom of the Panna cotta! Yummy!  Overtime, this Piedmontese dessert has been adopted by various non-Italian cultures. The Japanese for instance have reinvented the dessert in a way which incorporates green tea, an iconic Japanese beverage.  But going back to its roots, the Italians does it best!  As for the ice cream, it was pretty nice but ahah it tasted salty too =X!  Perhaps it is just a way to bring out the chocolate in this dessert?  I know many cooks use salt to help bring the flavours of the chocolate together, so I guess it really works!


Overall, our dinner at Ribaudo’s was quite a nice one with some hits and misses.  For the price of the coupons, it was well worth the buck!  However, the restaurant could do better with its pizza base.  It simply just went into the oven for too long!  Also, the veal should have appeared more generous as a main. The lasagne.. really was no more than canteen/cafeteria quality and should have been a whole lot better.  Luckily, the night ended sweetly with a delicious Panna Cotta which really lifted my mood from :( to Smile!  In the end, is Ribaudo’s a supercar or a normal one? Well, Ribaudo’s is worth a try and perhaps paying full price will make a difference.  In fact, it had better make a difference because for the price it charges, it has a lot of expectations to meet! Over and out :P!



Ribaudo's Ristorante on Urbanspoon

Bites: Elmars @ Swan Valley.

It has been a lengthy discussion for weeks if not months for a date that all of us could go to Elmar’s together.  Despite all the clashes of schedules, we managed a time slot last Saturday.  Upon our arrival, we were happy to see a crowded lot filling both the outdoor and indoor dining area.  However, it was quite a turn off when we were asked to sit in the bar area because we did not make a reservation when just a few days ago I was told that I did not need to make one.  The boastful waitress who insisted that Elmar’s is the busiest restaurant in the area did not help make us comfortable too.  Nevertheless, after complaining about the little comfort the bar area had, we were given proper seats! Phewh!!




The 7 of us decided to order a few dishes to share as we wanted to enjoy the different things Elmar’s had to offer.  Looking through the menu, one thing was clear about the Germans.  They loved their pork!  Luckily enough I do not have any problems with that except on one occasion where a tour organiser hilariously thought I was a Muslim.  I am tanned OK? ahaha. 


Too get the best of the German’s we had to try their specialties of course.  To start our meal, we ordered a few starters:


Elmar’s Cheesy garlic toast @ $8.90 for 3 pieces were a bit on the pricey side but served our tummies well! It was yummy and delicious in every bite!  However, I thought that the bread was a little dry and could be more moist in the middle.  But after having the garlic bread at Ikea, I decided otherwise and felt that the one at Elmar’s was more edible for sure >.<!!


Our next appetizer was probably the highlight compared to the rest :P!  The potato skin despite being the least eaten part of a potato was cooked to perfection! Golden, crisp and lightly salted, I cannot be more pleased! In fact, everyone was just as pleased!


(This picture was from TheMemoir)


As for our mains, we ordered the following:


Elmar’s Bratwurst Plat @ $36.90! A trio of Elmar’s Bratwurst - Grillbratwurst, Cheese Kransky and Coarse Bratwurst, on a bed of Potato Mash and Sauerkraut, with Crisp Garden Salad with a side of Mustard!  The sausages were delish and I thought that the middle Cheese Kransky one was really good.  Little bits of melted cheese tucked in it made these tiny morsels of food  really pleasant and a tad nostalgic considering cheese sausages were one of my brekkie foods when I was a kid back home!  And to be honest, I really dislike the Sauerkraut!  I think I have a lot of adapting to do!  Lastly, considering the price we have paid for 3 short sausages, I felt pretty ripped off for sure.  The value was somewhere but definitely not in the food.  The mash itself, oh god, it has definitely been made better at home before, if not many times!!


Nevertheless, the side of Fried Potatoes with Onion & Bacon (Bratkartoffeln) @ $9.90 did not disappoint!


Although onions and bacons were absent in the picture, it was still quite ok.  Not too salty but a good accompaniment compared to the Sauerkraut! lolx!


Even though we had a decent start to the meal, it was not until the Rolled Pork Belly @ $33.90 was served that I was finally satisfied! Even YiHeng though it was delicious!


Tender Pork Belly, Rolled with Honey Mustard Glaze and Elmar’s Kangaroo and Emu Chorizo, Served atop Fried Garlic Zucchini with Rosemary Potato, Beer Mustard Sauce and Homemade Red Onion Confit!  While every thing on the plate was almost flawless, I felt that the sauce somehow dragged the entire dish down.  The defect was not major, but it just felt lacking.  Oh, and do not be worried about the kangaroo and emu chorizo as it turned out odourless with a peppery taste!


Elmar’s Specialty the Pork Shank (Schweinehaxe) @ $42.90 was meant to be the killa but turned out otherwise or hmm perhaps it did kill… our jaws.


Nothing needs to be explained here I would suppose? :P!  Pickled cabbage, with the onion and bacon potatoes. Hmmm ok and the much publicised German specialty, the pork knuckle.  It is a slow cooked and roasted pickled pork shank encased in a crunchy crackling.  To our dismay, everything about this dish did not satisfy.  Did the hype kill the dish?  Perhaps so!  The meet was tasteless, cracking was barely crispy and oh @.@!  The crackling took ages to chew and nobody actually liked it!  Fortunately, the side of mustard did add the much needed flavour missing from the meat!  I came home with a sore throat and aching wisdom tooth after having this =(!  5 days after and my tooth still aches now as I type this out ahhh!!!!


Surprisingly, sharing all the food made us quite full even though we did not order a main each!  While everyone decided to go to the Margaret River Chocolate factory, the little darling and I decided to end our meal here with a dessert.  Below is the dessert we ordered, the Crème Brulee @ $15.


Definitely not recommended.  The custard was rough, the layer of sugar was slightly thin but sufficed because the custard was no more than a centimetre thick.  Could have been smoother but otherwise..!  By the end of the dessert, I would have honestly preferred to do without it! $$ waster!!


Putting our cutleries down, we looked at each other and from our expressions, it was rather clear how we felt about our meal at Elmar’s.  I cannot say we certainty that the food served at Elmar’s is truly German or pseudo-German.  But what I can say is that Elmar’s is definitely not a restaurant where money is well spent.  Despite sharing our meals, those who chose to had dessert or beer paid something closer towards $30 which is quite pricey for the standard of food we were getting.  If it was good, perhaps a 50 dollars would have been worth it.  But not this time around.  One thing we have learnt well though, that is do not get your hopes up high just because the radio plays a restaurant’s commercial too often!



Elmar's in the Valley on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bites: Crumpets @ Victoria Park

It’s been a while since I last came here! On my first occasion, it was a sudden wake up call on a rainy Sunday from my housemates, where the wet morning was brighten by the lovely offerings the Crumpet cafe had.  Despite the negative reviews it’s been getting, I went there again to find that what Crumpet does best, it still does!  I went there last Thursday after work for a quick brekkie.  Situated not too faraway from my new place, its really convenient!  However, one down side that seemed to be quite clear was that Crumpet really lacked the flair and ambience of a breakfast cafe.  Sure it did not quite have that John St. cafe feel, which is a lovely cafe with a blue splash of paint situated along a tree-lined street hidden just a few minutes from the beach. Nevertheless, the Crumpet has its own appeal with the indie looking crews which were keen on becoming trend setters rather than followers among themselves. 


Multi functional tool?  A ladder that is both useable and decorative. 


But with our hungry tummies sounding like V8s in little Toyotas, decoration matter little now.  SHOW US THE FOOOOOOOOOOD!!


We started off with a serve of crumpets with honey and butter for $4.50.  The crumpets were not your typical supermarket ones with a fishing net design on its top.  These had a slightly crispy crust and they were delicious!  These lovely delights came piping hot which to me, is just perfect for putting that slab of butter in before putting the honey inside it!  I would have to say that this is one of the best way of starting a savoury breakfast! Fill your nostrils with that melting butter aroma and let the honey make your fingers dirty!! Yums!!


Soon after the crumpets, two cups of freshly squeezed orange mixed with mandarins @ $6ea were ordered to quench our thirst!


The drinks were originally meant to be pure mandarins but we had to make do with a orange and mandarin mix as they were a little short in supply!!  the drinks came out beautifully despite being mixed and was quite nice as it was a little less sour compared to the other freshly squeezed orange juice I have had. The thought of sweet mandarin juices had me reminiscing juice moments in Thailand two years ago!!  YOBI if you are seeing this lets go Bangkok!


The big brekkie with poached eggs and at the bottom, the big brekkie with scrambled eggs! Both were the same price @ $19.  If you are a fan of good beans, I have to say both serves of beans were good in a yummy tomato paste!  The mushrooms were juicy and the bacon were a decent mix of crispy and soft.   Overall, a deserving breakfast for the hardworking crew!  However, proudly enough, I can make better scrambled eggs that Crumpets can!… AND that is according to my housemates who have tried eggs at Toast, Imp, John Street Cafe and every where else.  I guess I am starting to get a hang of it!


Sausages were meh!!! Luckily some rescue came with the bite sized hash browns which were really easy to eat.  In fact too easy that it felt too little!  In the middle of the hash brown is a yellow stain which I was thinking could be mustard but swallowed it too fast to decide.  But it adds a good flavour I must say! Yums!


And for the YiHeng a.k.a fishman, he ordered the toastie @ $9!  The toastie had bacons and egg between crispy toast finished with some aioli and relish!  YiHeng’s verdict? Nice and really filling but from my point of view, the Imp still rules when it comes to plating,and taste of its bacon toastie.


Fishman’s toastie brekkie!  Looks  a bit too plain for my liking! Compare it to the one at Imp here.

Nevertheless, the toastie did not let Crumpet down.  I find Crumpet to be able to give me more than Imp did.  The beautiful Crumpet start was gorgeous.  Any sweet tooth will not be able to resist its temptation.  The big brekkie, is not quite the best although I did enjoy the hash browns and baked beans.  Mushrooms were ample but not quite as good as the ones at John Street Cafe.. and not to mention, they serve the best and most original hash browns too!  Furthermore, the ambience is something that might put a few off, if it is more than breakfast that they seek! And lastly, something I was not too keen on was the longer than expected waiting time at Crumpet.  The crumpets came out super quick, but the rest were just too slow.  I would probably accept that the juice were super slow because the mandarins were pesky to work with, but otherwise it is not decent!  Nevertheless, I still find Crumpet very appealing to me and would go there for breakfast if I am not willing to travel to Cottesloe!  Unless, there is a better substitute..hmm.. is there?



Crumpet on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Bites: The Monk Brewery @ Fremantle

We recently celebrated Vanessa birthday at The Monk in Fremantle.  From my previous trips to Fremantle, the Monk has been a place I’ve always passed by but never ate there before.  With rave reviews in the pipe and through word of mouth, it seemed like a must try.  Pair those reviews with a steady steam of awards for their home brewed beer, the Monk is a must GO.  So, how did that turn out for us?  To begin, the interior was well presented and was well above my expectations.


It was really spacious and slightly dimmed with a high concentration of light in the centre of the dining table to see the food.  Also, I found the fitting quite stylish and there was a good mix of sitting areas.  Some were intimately hidden, while others like our table of 20 was in the middle of the dining area.  Quite good really.



Reservation for 20!



Unlike all Monks, this one has a different approach to its religion.  It’s way?  Good food & Great Beer.  So, now for the most important question: did the Monk’s philosophy satisfy me that night?


Lets see the food we had that night.  I only have a say on the food I have tried by the way!


Tiong’s entree was a mix of prawns and sausages was it?  Cannot really remember.  It also had a garlic sauce I believe?


The next appetizer for the night was the one most recommended dish by all reviewers and patrons .  The sticky pork belly with scallops and Asian salad @ $20!


The delicious sticky pork belly and scallops is described by most as flavourful and delectable.  Without tucking it, I was already pleased with the way the dish was presented, neat and nice!  My first look without touching the dish tell me that the sticky pork belly along with the scallops and salad has a very Oriental feel to it.  When it comes to taste I loved the sticky sauce that came with the Pork Belly.  The acidity of the beansprout salad was lovely too.  But after that, it was down hill.. all the way..  The  let down was the decency of the cooking.  With about 6 plates of these lovely beauties on order, every plates’ quality were different.  Mine has two main problems. One, the pork belly was not soft enough.  The skin ended up being chewy while the bottom bit was a little tough.  What I was really looking forward to was a soft layer of meat with a melted layer of lard enclosed in a beautiful soft/crisp skin.  But it was not so.  The scallops on the other hands were not seared properly.  A little longer on the pan would have been perfect.  Charles on the other hand felt that his scalloped tended to be a little raw.  It’s not that we cannot eat raw scallops because they are delicious when served as sashimi.  But in this scenario, it was BAD. Not at all acceptable.  One trivial but hmm ok not really trivial.  The serve was inadequate and not as I have seen on other bloggers’ posts.  Each plate was written to cost $18.50 but cost $20 instead.  In addition, we see 1 set of scallop and pork belly less.  So putting that to numbers we had 6 plates but which had a total of 18 pork-scallop pairs and paid $120.  In contrast the old menu would provide us with 24 pairs for $111.  That is a whole lot of difference!  Money back please! $$$$!


The girls called a few mains to share and one of it was Monk’s Ribeye @ $40:


The girls and everyone else including Vil and Edwin seemed really please with the steak. It was deliciously juicy, more importantly, the chefs listened and cooked to order.  The potatoes were not out of the bag chips but hand cut and fried.  It was delicious.  The sauce did justice with its good flavour but lacked the much needed saltiness.  Luckily the potatoes itself were salty enough!  But the drawback of the Rib eye was from the knowledge the Monk website puts up! We went there hoping to get a 350gram slab for $38 BUT ended up paying more for LESS.  A little nuisance here considering that this problem went on the entire night Sad smile.


Goat Shoulder Meat or was it called Greek Goat.  Whatever it is, Henry’s first mouthful left him with a speechless expression.  Pretty much said what it needed to anyways.  “WTF”!  Easy Smile with tongue out


Kelvin, Henry and I were the unluckiest people that night.  We ordered this disastrous dish. To sum it up, uninspiring, blend, horrible and oh jeez man! Seriously?  The meat was lean and it tastes horrible in stew!  The sour cream/yoghurt at the top did not help a tad.  Aubergines pickles were used but why?  Over-roasted potatoes sounded promising but it was a big NO-NO with this dish.  At the end, I only ask one question.  WHY ME?  For $32 bucks I believe it was a BIG BIG mistake.  But the joyful crew at the Monk should only ask ONE question.  Why was this even on the menu? Oh my god.  Seriously!@#


Nana’s Steak Sandwich!



Fish Pie.


The Fish Pie was pretty much a Shepherd’s Pie with a creamy sauce and fish flakes instead of a meaty one.  Xin Nee and Xin Ling took a bite into the pie and immediately said ‘I think your Shepherd’s Pie is better’! Wahahahah!  My take on the pie is that the fish-cream-mash combination didn’t really do the trick for me.  It felt rather flat.  The sauce did not have enough flavour and the fish.. what did they even do with it before making the pie?


At the end, the dinner left me with mixed feelings. The dish served to us that night really showed me how wide the quality of food can range in one restaurant.  From the delicious steak all the way to the horrible goat shoulder.  Also, Cherry ordered the Risotto that which through my experience is a no nonsense-killer dish.  The end result at the Monk?  An inedible Risotto which even the most forgiving monks will not eat.  Why? Undercooked and consistently crunchy bits in it had us return the dish after a few spoonful.  THAT INEDIBLE.  But I have to insist that perhaps the sheer volume of us that night left the Monk’s with little time and ingredients to serve our hungry crew.  Perhaps an intimate evening for two will allow the chefs to work up their magic.  But then again, the company might end up stealing the limelight from the food.



The Monk Brewery & Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Bites: Thai Corner @ Applecross.

Last Friday,the little darling and I were craving for some good Thai food.  However, we felt like going to a different place, so we ended up at Thai Corner, Applecross. Thinking through the list of places we have seen, Thai Corner always seemed to have a  steady crowd during weekends so what can go wrong isn’t it?  Furthermore, our entrance to the restaurant was graced by all the food awards this place has already won.  Adding it to the dedicated service by the gentle Thai waitresses, and yes, it felt like the little darling and I have landed in Thailand.  How about the food? hmmm…lets go talk a walk through what we ordered


To start of we had our little appetizer ;)


Thai Fishcake @ $6.90


These yummy delights got our nods of approval. This tiny morsel of food came with a delicious sauce with grounded nuts and chopped cucumbers.  A bit of this with a bit of that and I have to say, the fish cakes were almost perfect.  However, I felt that a little more lemongrass would have added the rest of the fragrant that the dish needed!  Not the best but it was the star of our night hehe!



Following our first appetizer, we went on to our next!


The tom yam gung @ $8.90 was lovely!  However, the clear soup seems like it was still lacking something.  Maybe a little more coriander?  I really do not know what went wrong.  It was good but seems lacking when compared to darling’s usual tom yum @ S & T Thai cafe.


Next was my next favourite Tom Kha @ $7.90 which is a definite must for me wherever it is offered!


This creamy delight was sour at the start but as I got used to it, it was actually quite delish.  But yet again it did not feel complete.


As our hopes were running high, we could not wait to see our main.  This was darling’s Pineapple Fried Rice @ 14.90.


Few or more like no places have cooked the Pineapple fried rice successfully.  Thai Corner’s well plated serve of the rice however, is definitely one of the most disappointing fried rice of all ages.  The rice was wet and overly soft.  Sweetness was the only thing clear each time I spooned it into  my mouth.  Darling was utterly disappointed.  She mentioned that the only thing clear was that this is a sweet.  Fair enough, the chef probably poured all the canned pineapple juices in. 0 out of 10.  Oh and added complain for the green peas @@! =X!


Next up was my Pad Thai @ $14.  Similar to the Pineapple fried rice, sweetness was everywhere.  For awhile I was wondering, where is the preserved radish or perhaps the preserved seasonings which would give the Pad Thai its lovely red colour?  A little more oil will definitely be welcomed too! 


No good.


By the end of the meal, we brought home two tubs of food to let the fishman give it a try.  Well,.. erh.. yeah.  Him being almost as particular about food as darling and I, he was not happy too.  Perhaps that explains the long pause in awards won by Thai Corner. @@!   But no worries, our lunch at S & T yesterday made up for our disappointment.  Does anyone else have a good Thai Restaurant to recommend? I look forward to any suggestions!



Thai Corner on Urbanspoon