Sunday, September 30, 2012

Rustlers Steakhouse & Grill, Albany WA



It was our last evening in Albany and being the lazybones that we were, we opted to have dinner at Rustler's Steakhouse, a mere 5 minute away walk from our lovely apartment.  It definitely helped that Rustler's was rated as one of the best restaurants in Albany.



Interior

The interior honestly didn't look like much. Just a big room with wooden tables and chairs and some make do decor. The place had a somewhat strange warehouse/mass market vibe to it - definitely not great for dates.



Garlic Prawns

Honestly, this dish looked a little underwhelming with a mountain of salad served alongside a small potful of prawns. To be fair, the prawns were fresh but weren't exactly sizable and were swimming in some sort of garlic "soup". It would probably have tasted better if the "soup" had been a little less runny. I've got to give it to Rustler's for the thorough cleansing of the prawns though, something which alot of Singapore restaurants fail to achieve.



Horn & Prawns

9 oz porterhouse coupled with sweet chilli butter prawns, offering the best of both worlds. However, I couldn't quite make out the sweet chilli butter but at least the prawns were fresh. The real star of this dish was undoubtedly the steak, which came a perfect medium as per my request. Flavourful and juicy with bits of fat and char grilled to perfection with nice crispy bits along the edges. Excellent!



Banana Mud Cake

Apparently the dessert changes from time to time so it would be good to check with the wait staff what's available. And we were recommended the banana mud cake, which on hindsight, was an excellent choice. Moist and light yet rich in chocolatey goodness without coming across as overly sweet. The accompanying ice cream didn't taste like anything out of the ordinary though. The cake is huge so best shared amongst two.



Bill

Overall, the meal was quite enjoyable save for the prawns and service was great. It didn't cost us an arm or a leg either, coming in at about AUD 72 (SGD 93). The place was quite crowded on a Monday evening so be sure to make your reservations if you would like to sit out in the front portion of the restaurant.


Final Verdict:
Ambience:6.5/10
Service:7.5/10
Food:7/10 (6.5/10 for the prawns)
Value for money:7/10

Overall:7/10

Address: 222 Stirling Terrace, Albany WA 6330

Contact: 08 9842 2454

Opening Hours: Open for dinner daily.

And just to share one of the biggest joys in my life thus far ;)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Vancouver Cafe & Store, Albany WA



It was a beautiful morning with the sun high up in the sky, keeping the incessant drizzle at bay. And armed with a recommendation, we hopped just around from where we were staying to have breakfast at Vancouver Cafe & Store.





The Interior & Menu

Occupying a corner unit at the intersection of Vancouver and Melville Street, the cafe looks like any of its neighbours, save for a huge sign that says "Vancouver Cafe & Store". The interior is simply done up with lots of wood and has a very relaxing/retro vibe about it, with old school furniture and little pieces of art adorning the wall (they are for sale by the way!). Ordering is simple. You place your order at the counter, pay for it and it will be delivered to your table.



Mega Breakfast

Contrary to what the name suggests, portions weren't as hearty as I expected but still big enough to fill the tummy of a relatively big eater. Served up with pumpkin, onion and potato rosti, spinach, mushrooms, toast, chipolatas, poached (or scrambled) eggs and bacon. The mushrooms were well sauteed and came with a hint of butter while the rosti was lightly sweet with a mildly burnt aftertaste. No complaints about the creamy poached eggs or the bacon, save for the fact that it was a little too oily. Overall a decent dish but I wouldn't go so far as to recommend it.



Pancakes with Bananas

The pancakes were thick but a little too dense for my liking and topped with bananas, kiwi slices, maple syrup and walnuts with candied edges. Decent and a carbohydrate laden way to start off your morning!

With a hot chocolate, the total bill came up to about AUD 44 - nothing too expensive by Aussie standards but food quality isn't that great in my humble opinion. The only thing this cafe has going for it is it's friendly staff and quaint little shop ambience.

ps: The cafe had a few flies buzzing around towards the end of winter. I wonder how is it like in Summer.


Final Verdict:
Ambience:7.5/10 (quaint)
Service:7.5/10
Food:6/10
Value for money:6/10

Overall:6.75/10

Address: 65 Vancouver Street  Albany WA 6330

Contact: (08) 9841 2475

Opening Hours: Breakfast & Lunch, Mon - Sunday. Dinner only on Thursday.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Wine & Truffle Co (Cucina Tartufo), Manjimup WA

It was a downcast Sunday morning and the drive from Pemberton to Manjimup's famous Wine & Truffle Co was fraught with hiccups due to our mix up over the opening hours and the inability of our GPS to find the place. Read. Ulu. But we still made it.






The Place

Located somewhere along the relatively isolated Seven Day Road, a 15 minute drive away from the sleepy town of Manjimup, The Wine & Truffle Co honestly didn't look like much from the outside, coming close to what I would call an enlarged tin shack. The cafe (renamed Cucina Tartufo as of 1st June), however, boasts a cheery red wall and views of a pond and an expanse of greenery (which I assume would offer a better view in spring or summer). And if you are interested in buying any wine or truffle products, the adjourning room offers those for sale.




Hazelnut Bread

I recall paying something around the range of AUD 14 for the hazelnut bread but I'm happy to say that it was worth every cent. The bread itself isn't made in house but sourced from the manjimup bakery and served up with truffle butter and a generous scoop of "black gold" (finely chopped black truffle in olive oil). Crusty with nuances of hazelnuts and bits of the nut embedded within the chewy folds of the bread - very much like an unsweetened version of Ferrero Rocher chocolates. Equally delightful was the smooth truffle butter, though I personally thought the accolade of pièce de résistance belonged undoubtedly to the black gold, which was earthy with a woody fragrance and a beautiful truffle aftertaste. Absolutely delicious!



Oven Roasted Duck Breast

Mildly crisp skin coupled with tender and juicy flesh and bearing a salty undertone. Very good. In case you are wondering, the truffle in this dish came in the form of the truffle mash, which was smooth and wonderfully fragrant. However I still think that the mash could do with a little more truffle :P



Truffle Fettuccine in Truffle Paste and Walnut Sauce

I heeded our friendly waitress's recommendation and went with the truffle fettuccine. On hindsight, it proved to be an excellent choice, even more so than the duck breast. Although the fettuccine could have been a little firmer, the deal clincher was none other than the excellent combination of truffle paste and walnut sauce. Creamy and fragrant with tiny bits of walnut in the mix. Topped with slices of Parmesan and a generous sprinkling of truffle strands. Simple yet delicious!



Bill

The total bill came up to AUD 77.50 or about SGD 100, which was well worth the money in my humble opinion. Sure, the location isn't quite along the touristy track but its well worth the short detour from Pemberton if you are driving downwards to Albany or back up to Perth City. For those who wish to take your understanding of truffles to a deeper level, The Wine & Truffle Co offers truffle hunts from 1st June to 31st Aug every year. Try it, it promises to be fun! ;)


Final Verdict:
Ambience:6.5/10
Service:7.5/10
Food:8/10
Value for money:8/10 (truffles are expensive!)

Overall:7.5/10

Address: Lot 490 Seven Day Road, Manjimup

Contact: (08) 9777 2474

Opening Hours: 10am - 330pm (Thurs - Sun and Mondays during long weekends)

Website: http://truffleandwine.com.au/truffle-cafe

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Lavender and Berry Farm, Pemberton WA



It was a beautiful morning and with the help of our (mostly) trustworthy GPS, we stopped by The Lavender & Berry Farm, a couple of kilometres off the small (and lovely!) town of Pemberton, just in time for brunch!







The surroundings & place

We got lucky as we managed to catch the end of the lavender season and there were bushes and bushes of the aromatic, purple (albeit rather pale) flower. And such tranquility! Lemon trees, a placid pond with the occasional quacking duck and nary a human being in sight. That's life! Of course having no signal on your cellphone helps you appreciate the beauty that nature has to offer. ;)



Toasted Turkish Bread Sandwich with Chicken, Cheese and Bacon (AUD 14.50)

It's my first time having Turkish bread or pide and it honestly struck me as hard but with crisp surface. Well, at least the one served at the Lavender and Berry Farm. And trust me, you need really resilient jaws to chomp through the whole sandwich, which by the way, was honestly quite tasty.



Chicken and Corn Pot Pie Served with Home- Fried Potatoes and Salad (AUD 17.90)

This dish was surprisingly homely and left me feeling warm and fuzzy inside. Unbelievably flaky puff pastry (not as buttery as I would have liked it though) atop a ramekin filled with generous chunks of chicken and corn simmering in a piping hot gravy. Only gripe I had was that the gravy was a little too starchy for my liking.



Berry Pancake (AUD 11.80)

And we ended our meal with Lavender and Berry Farm's signature berry pancake, served with a dollop of ice cream and hot raspberry compote. I honestly wasn't too taken by it but I have to admit that it is different. For starters, it is thicker and bigger (and this is only SMALL) than any pancake I've seen. And it comes with a crisp exterior (think pan fried) with lots of blueberries entrenched within. But being unevenly thick, some parts of the pancake did seem a little undercooked and there was also the issue of biting into seeds with every mouthful. Not too enticing honestly.




More pictures of the place!

In conclusion, although the meal wasn't anything to write home about, it was simple and unpretentious, served with a dose of genuine friendliness from the owners. Coupled with the beautiful outdoors and wonderful weather, there's really nothing I can complain about. For those who can't get enough of this place, there is even an option to spend the night there!


Final Verdict:
Ambience:8/10 (beautiful place!)
Service:8/10
Food:6.5/10
Value for money:5.5/10

Overall:7/10

Address: Lot 65, Browns Road, Pemberton, 6260, Western Australia

Contact: +61 (8) 9776 1661

Opening Hours: 9.30 – 4pm. Closed on Tuesday except during school holidays.

Website: http://lavenderberryfarm.com.au/

Sunday, September 02, 2012

C Restaurant, Perth

Red eye flights are the worst, especially if you are flying cattle class (yes, even if you are flying SQ and have managed to snag the emergency exit seats). That explained our less than enthusiastic (dishevelled would probably be more apt) appearance as we dropped by C Restaurant for lunch on a beautiful Thursday afternoon.






The Place & Menu

Perched on the 33rd floor of St Martin's Tower, C Restaurant offers a 360 degree birds eye view of its surroundings through floor to ceiling windows and made possible by slowly revolving at an angle of approximately 8 degrees per min (1 whole revolution per 45 mins). Perth is a relatively low rise area so 33 stories up is really quite high up. Sounds pretty much like Prima Tower in Singapore eh?

The interior is simply done up with cream leather backed chairs and white linen tables. When the view is this good, interior decorations aren't necessary. One gripe though. The table did seem a little too low for comfort. Either that or the chairs were a little too high. And the restaurant could do well to space the tables a little further apart from each other. It was honestly a little squeezy with the table behind us being occupied.

The lunch menu is simple. 1 course at AUD28, 2 courses at AU38 and 3 courses at AUD 48. No prizes for guessing which one I went with although I must say that I was mildly disappointed at the options my dining partners chose. But I digress.



Bread

I experienced a mild culture shock when I learnt that there was no complimentary bread. We had to pay AUD 7 for a small plate of them. Money aside, the bread was insipid though served warm. Can't say I enjoyed it even though I was close to starving. Maybe it was the 7 bucks.



Braised Black Angus beef cheeks, parsnip puree, market vegetables, aubergine caviar, parsnip crisp

For starters I had the Angus beef cheeks, which came across as tender but lacked the bovine sweetness that I liked. And presentation wasn't exactly stellar, if I may comment.



Homemade potato gnocchi with a Napolitana sauce, spinach and gorgonzola cream sauce; roasted tomatoes garnished with a glazed parmesan cheese crust

This dish had a nice creamy base sauce with a beautiful glazed cheese crust but was let down by the softer than expected gnocchi. Overall decent but definitely nothing to shout about.



Char-grilled Black Angus sirloin, braised Wagyu terrine, honey roasted sweet potatoes, broad beans, beetroot and horseradish puree, Madeira jus

This wasn't my order but I managed to steal a bite off it. The sirloin was done to a perfect medium and boasted great flavours with a peppery aftertaste from the Madeira jus. Portions did seem a little smallish though.



Margaret River Wagyu sirloin (220g), parsnip puree, market vegetables, creamed morel jus

I had to top up AUD25 for this and in all honesty, it probably wasn't quite a wise choice, especially in comparison to the Black Angus Sirloin. I had the wagyu done medium as well but it seemed a little drier than the sirloin and the marbling didn't really seem that all great. But to give it credit, I liked the crisp bits along the edges as well as the light touch of salt and pepper seasoning.



Grilled Atlantic Salmon served with herb gnocchi, slow roasted tomatoes, watercress, beurre blanc

The salmon was the catch of the day and though I didn't get to try it out, two of my dining companions rated it as average. They did seem to like the herb gnocchi though.



Crunchy chocolate and cherry kirsh compote

I rounded off my lunch with a crunchy chocolate and cherry kirsh compote. It was basically rich chocolate mousse sitting atop a mildly crunchy chocolate biscuit like base and circled with cherry kirsh compote. Decent ending to the meal but no wows there.



Bill

Together with 3 sides and 2 bottles of still water, lunch for the 4 of us came up to about AUD 220 (approx.SGD 290), which doesn't quite correlate to the quality and quantity of food in my humble opinion. On hindsight, there is definitely much better food to be had in Perth at a lower cost. But of course the view and company is unbeatable. And the smugness notion of having a leisurely lunch during a workday makes it all the more enjoyable. ;)


Final Verdict:
Ambience:8/10 (great views but uncomfortable seat/table height)
Service:8/10
Food:6/10 (7/10 for the sirloin)
Value for money:5/10

Overall:6.75/10

Address: Level 33, 44 St Georges Terrace Perth (located in between Barrack St & London Court)

Contact: (+61) 08 9220 8333

Opening Hours:

Mon - Fri: 11am - late

Sat-Sun: 12pm - late

Website: http://www.crestaurant.com.au/