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Monday, June 30, 2014

Bites: Tapas Brunch @ Duende, Leederville

Breakfast is all about enterprising takes on the usual suspects (bacon, sausage, and eggs).  Whilst some people love sticking to the usuals, I am totally the opposite.  Last week I met up with Jordo, Bel and David for breakfast in Duende. This place known for its Tapas during dinner serves breakfast in a similar way which starts as early as 8am.
The drinks were the standard fare.  You name it, they have it.  Juices, hot chocolates, pots of teas and different concoctions of coffee.

Big time coffee drinker/critique Bel dissess the coffee here. She calls it very “typical” and not very good.  Drinkable nonetheless.  But that was ok as it did not concern me in any way.  The word coffee never quite made it to my dictionary - something most or all of you would know :P!
The interesting part for me will always the food.  

First up were the Jamon & Leak Croquettas with Manchego.  Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside? Checked.  Flavour? Checked.  I am not quite sure how Duende does it, but our first course not only looked sensational but tasted very good.
The potato in the croquettes had great texture with the Manchego giving the dish a lovely fragrant.  After that I tasted the little pieces of Jamon giving me a slight sensation of saltiness.  You could say that that we all agreed that this dish was brilliant as we kept going back to the plate to scoop the Manchego sauce on the croquettes.  Simply stunning.  

My concern about the pairing of a strong cheese sauce with deep fried croquettes so early in the morning was put to rest. 

Simple pleasures at its best would be the best way to describe the next dish.  Sautéed mushrooms, rocket salad and toast.  To describe, buttery sweet mushrooms with a hint of parsley.  Each mouth full is usually greeted by the variety of textures coming from all the different mushrooms.  Some mushrooms were smooth, and some a little more spongy/chewy. Sounds like the perfect dish to have when you are all holed up on your couch in a cold winter’s day!

“Today’s Special”  - Pulled Pork Potato Cake was one of our other orders.  This felt to me like a reinterpretation of a bubble and squeak.  It was OK but felt a little flat because the pulled pork was not very flavoursome .  In fact, the sauce unlike the Machengo just did not feel impactful.  I was hoping for something a bit more flavoursome =/.
We also had an order of corn cakes which was yummy.  Another simple yet hearty dish.  Last but not least were the salted cod tortillas.  Not my personal favourite but it was ok.  I think it felt a little dry.

The food as Duende was a little bit of a mixed bag.  We had the good, the ok and the bad.  Fortunately, none was really bad.  A little fixing of sauce would have easily made all the difference.  But more importantly for me is to come away from a breakfast not consisting of the usual suspects.  With respect to that requirement, Duende excels.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Bites: El Publico @ Highgate

El Publico has long established itself as a social dining scene where Mexican meets modern Australian.  Its food is colourful from good Australian produce and flavours are Mexican-ly robust.   But is it really all that good?

Before jumping into the cliche of tacos, we ordered a couple of shared plates.  From the ceviche to the marinated corn, beef mogo mogo and the classic corn chips & dips, each came with their own merits though special is a word reserved for the beef mogo mogo and chipotle creme.
In essence, the beef mogo mogo was a pulled beef morsel coated with green banana batter and deep fried.  Crunchy on the outside and filled with tender beef on the inside, this was just superb to eat and taste.  Looking in retrospect, the banana was always there to leave a fruity after taste that was not too overpowering to deviate this savoury dish in becoming a sweet one.

Our starter the corn chips & dips were typical and tasted OK, so it was hard to complain about but definitely not praise worthy.   Felt like the order was more of a norm rather than a must.


Looking at the menu earlier, my eyes were fixed onto the marinated grilled corn.  Unfortunately for me, it did not quite come out the way I would have liked it to.  I wanted something a little more charred on the outside and extremely juicy on the inside.  I agree with my sis that it was perhaps better served on the cob.  Pretty decent flavours nonetheless.
Tacos were pretty good here.  That night we had a round of cuttlefish tacos for the table.  The tender flesh was a highlight but its $7 price tag did not quite tickle our fancy.  Instead, I recommend the grilled chicken plate.  Large pieces of chicken with a sides of rice, beans and tortilla, this was DYI at its finest.  None of the elements really stood out on its own but put them all together, and it was burrito party!  So for you people who like to get your hands dirty, this one is for you!

Whilst we were all very full from the meal, we could not help but end the night with a delicious peanut butter parfait. Jim’s take on this was that it had to be the best dish that night!  It had texture, flavour and a general all rounder appeal.  Sweet peanut crumble with a salty and rich peanut butter was easily the highlight.  However, the textures of melting parfait, and crunchy peanuts were all too hard to ignore.  Yums.
So with a $181 damage for 4 people including drinks, El Publico is no standard fare for an everyday’s meal.  It is a little inflated part due to its location but more to its reputation.  Its food was not outstanding, but neither did it disappoint.  For the money we paid, it was a pretty decent eat.  But not life changing.

el PÚBLICO on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Bites: A Porky Breakfast @ Smuggled Seeds Espresso, Leederville

Smuggled Seeds Espresso in Leederville is my latest food haunt. Its interior was tiny yet extremely neat and clean.  Its presence in the other end of Leederville is certainly bringing excitement to the suburb beyond the boundaries of the norm like Kailis, Little Caesars, Jus, and Sayers. Though popular for their perfectly brewed coffee, I am unable to comment as I do not like coffee. Instead I sought refuge in the very hearty green tea latte. Creamy, and rich with a mild sweetness from the macha, this was lovely. Do note that it does not come with sugar. So add to your hearts content at the table ;)! 

For my brunch, I ordered the Double roasted Char Siu with Onsen Eggs on toast ($13). The Char Siu was beautifully caramelised and each bite was still amazingly tender. In many ways it felt braised due to its tender meat. I really quite liked this one. The flavours were right, and the egg perfect. Really hard to complain about anything. 

 However, if I had one dislike it would be how the Char Siu was put on one toast and the eggs on the other. I wanted something a little sexier and not so disjointed in approach. Maybe two toast leaning on each other with the Char Siu on it with the eggs sitting at the very top with a sprinkling of finely chopped scallions. (Hint: My picture would look nicer if the subject was centred :)! ) 
 For two guys that rarely drink coffee, an 8 am brunch on Saturday at one of the best coffee places in town was a rather unlikely scenario. Nevertheless, that was where I had my brunch with Jordo. Smuggled Seed Espresso was an amazing host for an early Winter breakfast. Lovely warm drinks with good food to match, it was easily a hidden gem. This venue is also one that does not let you queue in the cold like an idiot. At least for now. Also, while I am not the biggest spender and neither am I a stingy pot, it does not take a genius to figure out that for $13, breakfast at Smuggled Seeds Espresso in Leederville was an absolute steal! So what are you waiting for?

  Smuggled Seeds Espresso on Urbanspoon