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Showing posts with label European. Show all posts
Showing posts with label European. Show all posts

Monday, January 6, 2014

Bites: Trustee Bar & Bistro @ Perth (revisited)

Having had a stellar meal just a few months back, Yv had massive cravings for the lovely Chateaubriand we had before.  Since she was going back to Malaysia, we decided to pay a visit.  Coming in for our reservation at 8.30pm, our seats were still occupied but we decided that we were not that hungry and could wait.  However, the noise in the establishment was just atrocious which would probably be a Friday night norm.   Nonetheless, we were not any quieter anyways haha.  We ordered a whole lot of food to share with the Chateaubriand the centerpiece of our meal.
First up the table were 3 serves each of the liver parfait and tuna steak tartare.
The parfait was OK, but with the relatively strong contention in the parfait category around town I could barely praise the offerings on the table.  It was creamy as, but somehow the accompaniments did not feel as strong as the ones I get from Cantina 663 or Old Crow.  So for me, it did not leave the best impression for sure. And while I was expecting huge flavors from the fish tartare, it turned out OK but nothing much to rave about.  The highlight was probably the unique addition of the sorbet which was rather nice but other than that it did not quite hit the sweet spot.
Next up was the shiitake and prawn linguine.  The appearance was rustic with the ingredients all chopped up into random odds and sods but hmmm.  In my first bite, it struck me that the flavors were rather bland.  If anything at all brought this dish to life, it was the parsley which was extremely refreshing as well as the occasional burst of shitake juices which have soaked up all the flavors of the pasta sauce.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe also called another beef pasta which was significantly better than the prawn one but still lacked an impact big enough to change the course of the night.  What exactly do I mean?  Well read up my meal at No.4 Blake Street where I had one of the best pasta courses which totally set my horrendous meal on a road to recovery. See my review on No.4 Blake Street here.
Last main for the night were two humungous serves of Chateaubriand. It came in two large trays looking as glorious as it did before. But, does it taste as good? While I would love to say yes, I could not. The beef in terms of cooking came out perfect. The middle was still red and moist while the outside has some really beautiful charred marks. But something about the beef today.. it felt quite bland. I am not sure whether Trustee usually dry age their beef slightly before cooking, but it just did not taste as good as it did before. Some even found the middle to be a little mushy. Is that even possible?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen comes the sides of bread and marrow.  The bread were quite nice little things to eat but it just did not go well with the beef.  The marry my old favourite were plenty this time but tasted horribly raw this time.  All those who came with me to the Trustee before remembered it to be very nice, with all the crumbs and herbs stuff onto it.  This time, it was just appalling.
By the end of the night we had ordered 6 appetizers, 4 pastas, 2 chateaubriands and a bill of large numbers for this table of 8.  Satisfied we were not. In fact, while many have lamented the service, it was pretty good as we only came in at 8.30pm and by 9.30pm, most had already left by then.  But the food, oh boy!  I really wished it could be better.  If I had to choose the star for the night, it would be a little bit of everything.  Some parts of the beef were stellar, but the whole cube was not.  I love the shitakes in the linguine as well as the prawns bits but not the mildly bitter leaves which I forgot to mention earlier.  The sorbet on the tuna tartare was nice, but the seasoning was plain.   In the end, it was hard to really say and to be honest with everything so half-baked, the night ended in a mess.  But was it as good of an eat as it was a few months back?  Definitely NO.  A big NO.  Thankfully as always, the company was awesome!  Which brings me to the ultimate question of my visit to the Trustee Bar & Bistro, am I still loving it?  While it will be too hard to write them off completely, I am high skeptical about a place when I have to pay top dollar to roll the dice, and hence, I will feel less interested to pay a visit in the future.  This meal was totally different compared to my stellar meal back in May.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Bites: Duende @ Leederville

Many times have I stood at the queue in Sayers  only to point to the café opposite the road, insisting that we should try it one day instead of repetitively queuing up here.  Little did I know that the café was actually Duende, one of the restaurants that my blogger friends ChompChomp and more noticeably Queen of Bad Timing’s love dining at.  Coming in on a Sunday evening, the crowd seemed quite relaxed and it was not as busy as I expected.  Duende’s interior is simple but nothing overly loud or bold.  Then again, I am not critic when it comes to fashion!  The waitresses and waiters were all dressed casually or hipster-ish if you prefer but more importantly, the service here felt impeccable.  However, despite the sweltering 40 degree heat earlier that day, the cheeky waitress tried sitting us by the door only to be rejected by Bel.  Thank god we did not sit there!  Might have died.

Water was quick to come and our orders were taken as soon as Jordo arrived.  Tapas seems to be rather high on my list in the past few weeks.  Whether it was going to be Mexican, Spanish, Australian or Japanese, the concept of shared plate seems to get everyone’s nod of approval.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFirst thing to hit the table was the tomato and olive oil dip.  Despite looking like any other dip, this tasted so fine. Char-grilled bread went perfectly with the dip but those meager 4 slices barely started the meal.  Thank god we also had some more bread from the Jamon which the folks happily used to mopped up any remnants of tomato and olive oil dip OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe jamon was quite a bargain on first sight, but was it the best cured meat I have tasted? Definitely not.  But go on, give it a try ;)!

Next up was a waitress favorite.  One of the orders I typically do when I run into a dead end.  This was the grilled eggplant, haloumi and pepper salad. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe pan-fried Haloumi was in full glory here.  Pan-fried delicious with its outer bits mildly crisp and perfectly browned.  The eggplant was grilled nicely and that went well with the salty haloumi and peppers.  My non-critique companions had a comment and it was that the dish as a whole tasted very much like a pizza.

Next up was Bel’s recommendation! The beetroot, goats curd, walnuts and honey.  Needless to say, I became instantly attached to this dish in my first bite.  The earthy yet juicy beetroots went so well with the walnuts and salty crumbs.  Not to mention the tangy goat’s curd that was in between a cheese and a yoghurt was seriously refreshing.  Also, who can forget the honey in the dish.  It just did wonders here.  This dish for me could be an appetizer, a main or a dessert.  Simply full of flavors.  The earthiness, the sugary-salty feel, and the nuttiness with a refreshing curd as well as textures that pleases the mouth.  So many things happening at the same time, but so well synchronized.  This was definitely my favorite dish of the night!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Another pick for the night was the braised goat with cous cous.  If you love eating, you will love your goat.  If there was goat curry vs lamb, I would always pick the former despite it being more bony.  There is something about the unexplained gamey taste of the meat that does so well when cooked in curries.  And do not be too quick to judge me, I am no curry addict. But here, the flavors just did not seem to set off any explosions in my mouth.  Never mind the goat.  Lets talk cous cous.  Is it just me or is cous cous best served with a thick sauce that screams Mediterranean flavors or something with tomato in it.  My take on this is that if the sauce were to be watery, all you get is some mushy cous cous unless you get into it the moment it is served.  Pretty sure everyone like me, enjoy a cous cous that is light and fluffy.  Sadly the one we had was gluggy @@! Disappointment kept adding up for this dish. I declare it a write off.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Next up were the patata bravas.   It was too good to miss especially after reading the reviews of this around town.  Sadly my picture in no way justifies this dish.  It might be just chopped up deep fried potatoes but they were bloody good.  And hence, I officially translate its names to “Bravo Potatoes”.  The crispy potato bites were fluffy on the inside, crisp on the outside and the generous seasoning of paprika was simply sensational.  The sauce that came with it had my friends thinking whether there were any peppers in there but for me, it was so fresh I could not care less.  Yums! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The last dish to hit the table was the Pork Belly with coriander, pine nuts, pomegranate and fennel slaw.  Again, so many things happening in one dish but did they all work together?  But never mind that, let the pork belly be the focus for now.  We had 5 people around the table and there were already some expectations set when we walk into a restaurant and have pork belly.  Needless to say, crispy skin came tops followed by a melt in your mouth meat.  So did Duende deliver?PC150055IMHO, no.  However, it was close to doing both.  The pork belly was tender and close to melt but not quite there.  Its skin after detaching the top and scrapping of the still hard lard, cracked like shards but it did not quite go all the way.  I was left with sticky bits up my tooth because of that.  The fennel slaw had a mild seasoning that is hard to complement either so hmmmm not the best and we found that the coriander lacked seasoning.  Honestly, I would have been really pleased with just the pork belly and a well-seasoned coriander salad alone.  Nevertheless, there was something that the whole table agreed on; that the grapes in this dish were extremely delicious.  If that counts ahah.


After we finished our food, I was rather full but the table said they could eat more.  So we ordered 5 desserts.  Needless to say, we really overestimated ourselves.  Sadly, it was already 7-ish that time and to get drinks and desserts to the table took them a whopping 25 minutes.  In comparison, all 10 of our tapas only took like 20 minutes to hit the table.  But that’s ok.  We had time for some photos. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABel and her boyfie


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         AC, Jordo and I.  A crew of retarded yet extremely fun people.

When the desserts came, I was chuffed.  Everything looked so pretty.  First up was the cream catalana or simply, crème brulee with biscotti.    The cream here was velvety smooth.  The hint of vanilla was just spot on but it was the sugar layer that disappointed us.  It felt a little too thick and not blow torched enough.  This resulted in a chewy sugar layer that stuck to our tooths.  While this was in no way perfect, it was not bad either!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Next was the doughnut balls with condensed milk ice cream.  When it hit the table and I took a photo, it looked sensational.  Sugar coated – deep fried goodies looked like the ultimate no-fuss dessert tapas.  It was easy to share but was it easy to eat?  Probably one of the most obvious things was the sugar coating.  It was a tad over considering it was served with a condensed milk ice cream.  Nevertheless, it is something I could live with as the sugar easily dusts off! However, in each doughnut ball was an overpowering saltiness that seemed to smash my buds as I chew more and more.  For a while I thought perhaps a lump of salt got caught in my doughnut only.  Apparently not, as my friends voiced a similar problem with theirs.  Probably a one-off mistake as no one else online has encountered a similar problem!
PC150072Then comes its merits.  I loved the ice cream. Spiced condensed milk ice cream was genius!  Nothing new, but just delicious.  Served semi-melted, it was everything an ice cream should be.  Creamy, silky smooth, and despite expecting it to be overly sweet, the use of spices totally help make it just nice. Was it cinnamon?  Or maybe cardamom?  I do not know, the sugar and salt distorted my senses!  Despite flaws in the doughnut, I would definitely order this dessert when I return!  Very promising!

However, despite hearing rave reviews about the doughnut balls with condensed milk ice-cream, it was only second best that night.  Believe or not, it was a gluten-free dessert that blew me off my socks at Duende.   In fact, I think my gluten-intolerant buddy Chompchomp is going to be pleased to know about more GF treats in town!  The flourless chocolate and orange cake was totally awesome that night.  And please excuse the clotted cream, it was totally unnecessary.  I’d rather a scoop of ice cream please!  To simply put it together, the chocolate was super moist, RICH and not overly sweet.   Orange puree was fragrant and added another dimension to the dish.  A little bit like eating Lindt’s Dark Chocolate with Orange, with the exception that this was super moist!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Duende in a nutshell was a superb eating place.  But the use of square tables means like all other tapas places, unless you are actively on your foot, keep the group small to about 6 people to enjoy a good conversation.  If seated outside, it might be a little more romantic.  But honestly, the noise here just kills the mood.  But if it’s a drink, and some great bites you are looking for, definitely keep Duende in mind.  This restaurant sits pretty high at the top along with the likes of Cantina 663 and Old Crow. Or if it is Japanese, Bonsai and Ha-Lu!  So much too love! Not to mention, if it was not for the overkill on the desserts, food alone would have been only been $40 max.  Now, tell me what is not to like!  No wonder it is Queen of Bad Timing’s favorite too!


Duende on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 20, 2013

Bites: Blackbird @ East Perth

I recently visited Blackbird in East Perth after scoring a half price booking through Dimmi which advertised via Urbanspoon Promos.  It was pretty sweet to be honest.  Not very often do you get such value especially with  European restaurants which are usually pricey in Perth.  At Blackbird, the ambience felt romantic with its cozy environment enhanced by the dimly lit dining area. 

To fill the growling tummies, we ordered Mini baguette and beurre de paris @  $2 each.  Crusty warm baguette is always desirable especially on night when you go in really hungry and slightly cold.  This was on such occasion with the butter melting on  the warm bread :)!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANot the best serve of bread and butter but a delicious one ;)!

We called a few starters which included the Pan fried squid, chorizo, black olives, aubergine caviar.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile Jimmy boy could not recognize all the elements in there, the slippery aubergine caviar was a give away along with the chorizo which has that slight chewiness but at the same time, an unmistakable aroma.  Squid were just little bits which were cook spot on.  It was a nice little starter IMHO.

Little darling ordered something a little more healthy.  She had the roasted nectarine, bocconcini and rocket salad. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPerfectly caramelized nectarines with fresh chewy bocconcini and a simple balsamic dressing.  Tempted by its rustic appearance the little darling enjoyed it.  It was something she would order again.  I found this dish quite appealing to me too.  The key here was its simplicity and the good pairing of flavors!

For mains, my sis and Jimmy boy ordered the pappardelle with a cured meat cream sauce (might be pancetta).
Again, the key approach taken by Blackbird is simplicity.  There was little distracting dish.  It was a simple pappardelle dish with the cured meats very finely chopped. This infused the beautiful smoky aroma into a rich creamy sauce.  Combined together with the silky pappardelle and it was a hearty dish all by itself.  What buggered us a bit was the duration the pasta was cooked for.  It felt a little overdone.  A friend J who came here last year felt the same thing too.  Perhaps this is Blackbirds preferred pasta consistency.

Around the table, we also had a few people order the beef risotto.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt this point it was very clear what Blackbird tries to do.  Their cooking retains all the flavors of the key ingredients.  Hence, their products were more subtle in seasoning but relied heavily on the aroma of the ingredients along with its natural sweetness.  I found the risotto to be well-cooked with the flavors of the beef, red wine and parmesan present.  Salt though, felt lacking.  I would definitely have more salt on there.

My main was the seafood chowder.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith a decent serve of fish, mussels, and prawns, it was every seafood lovers joy.  First point for the rustic presentation, and the second for the ability of the chef to cook all the seafood perfectly.  Dislikes though were the lack of salt once more.  But no worries, I could easily shake some onto my dish.

By the time we finished our mains, we were all filled!  Blackbird for half price is a great it.  But things like the seafood chowder costs $38 without discount, hence it might be a little too expensive as that would not fill anyone up just by itself.  I think the risotto was $36 and the pappardelle was around $29.  All of which is typical in Perth.  I would definitely consider a return but with so many around, Blackbird might find itself in steep competition against other places.

Blackbird on Urbanspoon