Restaurant and food reviews from Perth, Australia

Sunday, November 28, 2010

La Galette De France, Nedlands

As much as the outline of my stomach says no, I love stuffing my face with sweet things - French pastries included.  So here I find myself at one of those great casual places for your French bakery and coffee shop/cafe needs.  La Galette De France has branches around Perth but on this occasion I made my way to the main one in Nedlands.

The atmosphere at La Galette De France is part bakery, part coffee shop/café.  With a handful of tables inside and another handful outside, La Galette De France can get pretty busy.  However, given it does coffee and cake or light meals, it’s reasonably high turnover so it’s not impossible to get a table.

Menu-wise, La Galette De France offers a range of mainly French bakery products from an awesome French stick, baguette and croissant, to sweet pastries.  However, L a Galette takes it even further with a range of cooked to order light meals such as sweet and savoury crepes, as well as coffee.

Complete Crepe - $9

This crepe was a folded parcel filled with ham, cheese, egg and the egg's raw egg yolk was neatly placed in the middle.

This crepe was light and the savoury flavours were subtle yet satisfying.  The raw egg centre was a little peculiar but perhaps it was their take on the tartare with the use of raw egg similar to other French cooking.  Definitely something different to what I'm used to.

Banana Delight Crepe - $9

This sweet crepe was layered with sliced banana, chocolate, and slices of roasted almonds.  It was also accompanied by vanilla ice cream.

I haven’t decided whether I classify this is a sweet meal or a dessert but it felt like it could be either.  The combination of the crepe with sweet flavours made for a nice indulgent crepe that was evenly coated with the banana, chocolate and almonds.  Perhaps too indulgent though as I felt like I ate too much by the end of it.

Lemon and Lime Macaroon, Chocolate and Cherry Macaroon - $2.80 each; Gingerbread Man - $4

These macaroons (yes it was spelt that way) tasted great and were nicely made with the biscuit portion having a soft, light texture that didn't crumble but was easy to bite through.  The macaroons were also filled with a layer of flavoured cream.

The lemon and lime macaroon had a sweetened taste of the sour lemon and lime running through it making it quite a tangy macaroon.

The chocolate and cherry macaroon had a type of crushed cherry filling and chocolate cream centre.

Gingerbread Man - $4

Yum.  I'm eating this as I type right now.

This Gingerbread Man was wrapped in plastic and came decorated with hundreds and thousands from waist below.

The Gingerbread Man had a soft, light, aerated, breakable and biteable texture, and a ginger wholemeal-like texture and taste.  At $4, not exactly cheap but it sure did taste good.  However, I still have issues with tearing a "man" up and eating him.

Cappuccino - $3.80

This cappuccino was pretty good.  The beans in this milky cappuccino only had a hint of bitterness.  Froth-wise, the foam was very smooth and dense.

In summary, La Galette De France can meet your French patisserie needs as well as offer a casual coffee shop with a distinct French based menu.  Maybe not the best for my not as flat as it should be stomach, but it does taste good.

Points to note:  Many people takeaway the bread, pastries and even coffee.  However, you can dine in for your coffee and crepe or pastry too in the casual coffee shop style seating arrangements.

Go for:  French pastries, crepes, and maybe some coffee to top it off.

La Galette De France
125b Broadway
(08) 9386 5097

La Galette De France Nedlands on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lava Stonegrill, Mount Lawley

Molten lava rock.  Some things may make people run for their lives, stop whole fleets of aircraft, or even be a magnet for tourists (like me)... but cooking your own food on heated lava stone?  That's a different one and another thing to add to the reported and speculated uses of volcanic by-products.

Even with the So I made my way to, for the second time, have a meal cooked on this controversial lava stone.  It was Saturday night at 7pm.  I made my way into Lava Stonegrill for a feed.  There is a distinct and visible cloud of smoke, and a strong smell of barbecued meats in the air as just about every patron is grilling their food on lava stones.  I had been here before on a less busy night when the barbecue cloud wasn't so prominent.

Lava Stonegrill is set in an old house converted into a restaurant.  The furnishings are pretty simple and the seating quite ample given the size of the house.  There were also multiple air conditioners operating, but unsuccessfully (or perhaps not on the right mode to) removing smoke and smells from the restaurant.

The menu contained a range of lava stone grill main courses ranging from differing meats to seafood.  For those not wanting to cook their own main course, there were also a handful of dishes that were served cooked.  The menu also contains a small selection of beer, cider, wines by the glass and bottle, and dessert wines.

Salt and Pepper Squid - $14.90

The squid was cut up decoratively to make the squid seem lighter and more attractive.  The squid was lightly coated with a light coloured golden batter mixed with salt and pepper.  This was then served with an aioli sauce and a small portion of salad.

This dish was quite good and had the makings of a light yet well flavour-balanced salt and pepper squid.

Mediterranean Lamb - $29.90

Served on a lava stone that has seen better days, the lamb was marinated in some Mediterranean herbs and filled with a feta cheese based mix that was a bit orange in colour.

Accompanying the lamb was a Napolitano and chilli sauce.  The sauce had a bit of bite from the chilli, and though the Napolitano tomato based sauce was meant to blend in with the Mediterranean lamb I felt it didn't really match the lamb for my taste.  However, having its own marinade, the lamb was already flavoured without meaning additional sauce wasn’t necessary.

The main course was served with a coleslaw type of salad, and a couple of boiled potatoes.

 Reef and Beef - $34.90

This reef and beef dish had the makings of your normal reef and beef dish - steak with a couple of prawns, squid and a scallop.  The dish was served with two sauces - one which seemed to go with the salad more than anything, and the other creamy one to go with the seafood.

This dish was also served with potatoes, and salad.  However, the flavours of the beef and also the reef seemed pretty ordinary tasting.

In summary, Lava Stonegrill is a novel way of having your dinner - allowing you the flexibility to cook to your own liking.  However, the tastes to me seem a bit ordinary but it's that novelty factor you are paying for.  My biggest regret though was the intense smoky smells not only in the restaurant but all over me and my clothes long afterwards.

Points to note:  Yes, you have to cook your own food and pay for it but it is kind of a novelty. If you prefer your meat less cooked, you may have to move it to the small saucer or ask for another plate. On a busy night, expect to leave smelling like a barbecue.

Go for: The novelty of cooking your own food on lava stone.

Lava Stonegrill
155 Walcott Street
Mount Lawley WA 6050
(08) 9328 6669

Trading Hours
Monday to Saturday - 5pm to 11pm 

Lava Stonegrill on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bergen, Norway

A quick stop at some UNESCO world heritage listed sites.

Here in Bergen, Norway's second biggest city which incidentally has less than 300,000 people, not only is there the picturesque UNESCO world heritage listed Bryggen (where some Hanseatic buildings have been accurately restored to maintain the heritage of the city) but it is the gateway to the fjords and in particular the UNESCO world heritage listed Sognefjord - the longest fjord in Norway and the second longest in the world.

Foodwise, one point of significance in Bergen is its fish market - fishermen sell fish and related products here and many tourists converge here at this iconic tourist spot.  Given the importance of the fish market, it comes as no surprise that seafood is big in Bergen.  However, that doesn't mean you can't get other Norwegian food in this charismatic city.

Bryggeloftet & Stuene

This classic restaurant offers some traditional Norwegian fare at reasonable prices.  Located on Bryggen, this restaurant welcomes locals and tourists alike with many tourists dropping by for a taste of Norway that isn't intertwined with the produce from the fish market.

Bryggeloftet & Stuene (centre)

Inside Bryggeloftet & Stuene, the restaurant had some classic Norwegian charm, as well as a reasonable amount of space and seating for small and larger groups of diners.  The wait staff are friendly and talkative and happy to assist with describing dishes that are "foreign" to tourists.

The menu’s offerings had a range of Norwegian meals including steak, lamb, shellfish, and fish (such as Norwegian trout, cod, monkfish and halibut).  On the drinks side of things, the menu included wine from around the world with options from Italy, France, Argentina, Chile and even included Australia’s Jacob’s Creek (Chardonnay and Shiraz Cabernet at NOK74 per glass).

Reinsdyrfilet with Today’s Vegetables and red onion chutney and game sauce – NOK320

Reindeer is quite staple in Scandinavia.  Many Norwegian restaurants offer Reindeer and when cooked right, it can be melt in your mouth and an excellent alternative to a great steak.

I ordered this dish medium rare and it was tender as.  The dish came with mushrooms, and berries and tasted great for a meat (and a game meat at that) and veg dish.

The dish also came with a choice of Dauphinoise potatoes, fried or fried new potatoes (I'm not sure what the difference was) or boiled amandine.  I opted for the Dauphinoise which was a creamy potato dish with a mild garlic flavour.

At the fish market

Seafood roll – NOK90

Though there were different varieties and combinations available at the fish market, I opted for this particular roll.

The roll was a white bread roll that contained different fillings in different portions of the roll.  The fillings in this particular roll were shrimp, scampi, caviar, smoked salmon, crab mix, as well as overall lettuce, egg, and a small amount of cucumber and capsicum.  No sauce was present from what I could tell.

The shrimp and scampi were small sized and boiled, which is normal for this type of seafood in Norway.  Overall though, this roll tasted quite average and seemed to have next to no cooking or tasting skills required in its preparation.  As for the price, by our standards this was expensive but for Bergen standards this was fair.

...And finally, a few pictures from the picturesque and partially world heritage listed Bergen and Sognefjord.

Fish Market on Torget


A Fjord off Sognefjord - the narrowest Fjord in Europe



Art Gallery in Bergen
Lake in Bergen
Metal Artwork in Bergen
One of the towns off Sognefjord

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Red Cabbage, South Perth

It has been a little while since the inaugural 2011 The West Australian Good Food Guide was released and I’m sure many of us have read it or even have our own views on the published ratings.  Personally, I bought the book on release and had a bit of a perusal and largely a lot of the ratings seemed consistent with my thoughts.

Going through the list of restaurants awarded one or two stars, a restaurant I had been putting off due to mixed comments from friends is Red Cabbage.  For those of you who don’t know, Red Cabbage was awarded two stars in the Good Food Guide.  I figured it was about time to bite the bullet and see for myself which side of my fence it sat on.

Heading into Red Cabbage, the restaurant décor was modern and classy.  The restaurant is dimly lit to create a mood, and the service is attentive and friendly.  The only minor issue is that whilst the restaurant has a view with balcony, the view is mainly overlooking an intersection – not really worth complaining about but just a little unfortunate for a fine dining restaurant.

View from Red Cabbage

Moving onto the food, Red Cabbage describes their cuisine as British with Australian influences.  Looking through the menu, the British food wasn’t just roast beef, fish and chips, or bangers and mash.  This was modern British, with Australian and other international influences meshed into modern cuisine.

On the drinks side of things, Red Cabbage serves everything from local and imported beer, wine, spirits and cocktail.  The emphasis of the wines is on Australian wineries with many boutique and less common brands featuring in the modest list.  However, for those of you looking for something less close to home, a small selection of international wines from Europe is also available by the bottle or glass.

Homemade bread with apple balsamic and olive oil - $5 (on the right: Amuse Bouche of Gazpacho)

The homemade bread was a round, smooth, bun shaped single serving of bread that was served warm.  The bread's texture was smooth and light but dense, and the taste was slightly sweet.  The apple balsamic and olive oil tasted great with it, with the apple balsamic having a slight sweetness that added to the bread's own sweet taste.

Margaret River venison, puy lentils, potato gnocchi, venison pastrami, shallot - $38

The tender pieces of venison were medium rare and delicious with the jus.  The potato gnocchi were well made, nicely formed, consistent and smooth without being floury, and pan fried finished – my only gripe was there wasn’t enough of them but then again this was not a gnocchi dish.

The remaining ingredients including the puy lentils and venison pastrami contributed to the overall taste of the dish rather than standing out and drawing too much away from the dish.

King snapper and spicy pork lasagne, king prawns, chilli caramel - $37

Lasagne these days is often not really just lasagne.  There seems to be a growing number of varieties as the Italian lasagne recipes meet modern day trends, techniques and fusion ingredients.  Take squid ink for example – squid ink has been used in pasta and noodles to colour pasta a more striking black colour.  I'm all for innovation and challenging traditional ways of doing things.

The lasagne was a black lasagne of king snapper and spicy pork – the king snapper being cooked right and the spicy pork along with the chilli caramel adding a bit of a bite to the dish but not excessively so to make this a “hot”dish.

The king prawns were deshelled with heads and tails intact and also cooked with a spicy flavour.  The chilli caramel, as expected, had both tastes of spicy chilli and sweet caramel infused giving this dish quite a distinct taste.

Chocolate decadance, white chocolate tortellini, mulled wine - $16

I was warned that the reason why mulled wine is served with this dessert is to mull the heavy and sweet chocolate flavours.  However, I think I'm pretty resilient to chocolate.

The chocolate dessert consisted of a chocolate shortcrust-like base, topped with the main component of the dessert – a type of chocolate mousse, and topped with chocolate ganache.  The chocolate dessert was then garnished with a white chocolate tortellini and on a separate dish was the port glass sized mulled wine.

The chocolate dessert was indeed decadent.  Even though, apart from the tortellini, the dessert didn’t seem to be anything surprising or out of the ordinary it was good for what it was.  The base was solid, didn’t crumble and yet easy to cut through, the mousse a good consistency and texture, and the ganache topping the dessert making it a rich chocolate dessert without going overboard.

The tortellini added a nice touch to the overall look of the otherwise simple looking dessert.  The tortellini itself was a biscuit-like tortellini with what seemed like a white chocolate cream.

To finish this dessert off, the mulled wine was warm and slightly sweet.  Sipping this between and at the end of the chocolate dessert did its intended purpose in a welcome way, washing away the strong chocolate tastes and reducing the sweetness that stayed on my tastebuds.

Chocolate profiteroles with coffee parfait - $15

This dessert was presented with a unique layout.  The centrepiece was a tall cone of coffee parfait, and was surrounded by three chocolate filled profiteroles and three more small dollops of chocolate garnished with mint.

The profiteroles, though made well, tasted a bit ordinary to me and the addition of a mild chocolate creamy centre added to it but didn’t blow me away.  I guess as described, they really were chocolate profiteroles so we got what we ordered.  The coffee parfait was a nice smooth parfait that was mildly coffee flavoured and also mild on the sugar which was quite satisfying.

In summary, Red Cabbage does deserve to sit in the fine dining category of Perth’s restaurants.  Even though it isn’t the most innovative around town, the food was of high quality, modern and had well matched flavours.

Points to note:  Red Cabbage is an excellent fine dining restaurant serving “top notch British food at its best, with obvious Australian influences”.  It’s recommended to book this restaurant in advance, especially for peak nights such as Saturday.

Go for: One of Perth’s better non-degustation fine dining restaurants serving British food which is modern.

Red Cabbage
49/15 Labouchere Rd
South Perth WA 6151
(08) 9367 5744

Trading Hours
Lunch - Wednesday to Friday
Dinner - Tuesday to Saturday

Red Cabbage on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Oslo, Norway

As much as I love Norway, I must admit that I prefer the other main Scandinavian capitals, Stockholm and Copenhagen, to Oslo. However, saying that, Oslo has some interesting places to see – some of which are quite unique. For example, Oslo is where you go to see salvaged Viking ships, the Nobel Peace Prize Centre, or the more grandly designed rather than laid back Vigiland Park.  Not to forget A-Ha and their final tour this year. Remember them?

Being surrounded by the sea and being known for their Viking heritage past or their shipping and oil and gas present, the cuisine in Norway as you would expect contains a lot of seafood. To complement the seafood, there is your usual range of meats including the game meats such as reindeer and elk. The food range in Norway is also quite diverse with local modern cuisine as well as influences and offerings from international cuisine, though I found as a whole the cuisine is generally saltier in Norway than in Australia (and perhaps to some extent Scandinavia generally).

Mr Hong’s Mongolian BBQ

I am no expert and I could be wrong, but Mr Hong doesn’t really sound like a Mongolian name to me - but walking past this place with the lure of a 3-5pm NOK 99 all you can eat “happy hour” Mongolian grill seemed too good to pass up.

Walking into Mr Hong’s Mongolian BBQ, the distinct lack of cliché Mongolian decorations and immediate strong presence of Chinese furnishings was apparent. I guess I wasn’t surprised. On entering, Mr Hong appeared to offer both a la carte and the buffet and upon opting for the latter, the waitstaff motioned us towards the buffet area of the restaurant. The presence of only a few tables of varying Norwegian and foreign looking customers (i.e. not blond and blue eyed?) was confirmation as to why Mr Hong had their enticing (or perhaps not as popular as they may have hoped) happy hour.

The buffet area was a small area filled with trays of food for the taking. On offer were meats such as marinated chicken, lamb, beef, pork, and seafood mix (which contained shrimps, squid and crab sticks). Other things on offer were vegetables such as carrots, celery, water chestnuts, capsicums, red cabbage, bamboo shoots, and then sweet corn soup, deep fried tapas, steam rice, fried rice, spaghetti, bread rolls, fruit and salad. To go with all of that, sauces such as sweet and sour, hoi sin and sweet chilli were available to take at your own discretion.

Whilst some of the food on offer was ready to eat, the raw meat and vegetables had to be passed up to the chef in the kitchen who would cook your selection in lots of oil and extra sauce (I asked for less the second time).

The food was pretty average after all that, and although the taste was quite uninspiring it was value for money.

United Bakeries

Like most countries, there is a healthy supply of bakeries in Oslo specialising in a variety of breads and pastries. I was told that to pay this particular bakery a visit with the prospect of a chocolate fountain that is used to fill a certain chocolate pastry upon order.

On entering and some searching around, I couldn’t find a chocolate fountain. Not happy Jan. However, given I was here, I figured I might grab some pastries anyway.

I didn’t end up eating these pasties straight away and actually ate them the next day which was perhaps not the wisest move. I did feel as though the pastries were a tad dry which may have been bakery related but I’ll put down to leaving it overnight.

Raisin Scroll, Chocolate Danish, and Chocolate Brioche

Chocolate Brioche – NOK28

Wth the promise of chocolate as previously mentioned, I felt in the mood for chocolate and ordered this pastry. Unfortunately the “chocolate” felt a bit more like a footnote as there were only chips of chocolate throughout. However, the brioche overall was ok just that it felt a bit ordinary to me.

Raisin Scroll – NOK 20

One thing I do like with the way they make these in Norway is the addition of custard. The custard adds a new layer of moist sugary enjoyment to this otherwise normal pastry. With this particular pastry though, I found the custard and raisins balanced the overall pastry with the sugary moistness they bring.

Chocolate Danish

This Danish was another pretty standard pastry – bits of choc chips in a Danish style pastry.

Overall though, and maybe unfairly affected by the fact I ate this the day after, I prefer some of the other bakers in Norway.

Golden Dragon Chinese and Thai Restaurant

Late one night we went back through the main street in Oslo (Karl Johan’s) and looked for a late dinner. Apart from the fast food joints (such as Burger King) and a few pubs there really wasn’t much open at the time. However, we stumbled across three restaurants on one of the side streets off Karl Johan’s – one Italian, one French, and one Chinese. The Italian restaurant looked unpopulated, whilst the French restaurant looked a bit expensive for a quick late night dinner so we settled on the cheaper Chinese restaurant – Golden Dragon Chinese and Thai Restaurant.

The notion of Chinese and Thai in a single restaurant seemed a bit peculiar but the menu did indeed show dishes of both Chinese and Thai sounding origin. In fact, the menu even had sushi – these guys were indeed multi-talented.

Our small group decided on a few dishes, including the use of a set course meal of two dishes for NOK198.
Szechuan Chicken

The Szechuan chicken was a single serving plate full of chicken fillets and vegetables in Szechuan sauce. This Szechuan flavour wasn’t as chilli/pepper hot as others I’ve tried, and rather quite mild. Overall this was pretty average.

This main dish was accompanied by steamed rice.

Thai Curry Chicken Hot Pot

The Thai curry chicken contained pieces of chicken fillets, and vegetables such as onion, bamboo shoots, and snow peas. This curry was only mild in curry taste and had a distinct and strong lemon grass taste. Also different to the Thai curries I’ve tried in Perth, the curry sauce was very thick but wasn’t a soup of creamy curry sauce I tend to mop up, as well as containing a higher amount of sodium. The curry was also served in a clay hot pot and the serving size wasn’t that big as it was intended as a main course dish served with food for one person.

Again, this main dish was accompanied by steamed rice.

Apple Pie with Ice Cream

Chinese… Thai… Then even Japanese… and now Apple Pie? Chinese apple pie? Actually, this was a decent apple pie – chunky sweetened apple in buttery shortcrust pastry.

The ice cream though was pretty standard and melted quickly due to the heat of the pie.

Some memories from Oslo…

Frammuseet - The World's Most Famous Polar Ship

The Nobel Peace Centre

The Obama Exhibition at the Nobel Peace Centre (too bad about losing the lower house)

The Nobel Peace Centre's Gallery of Peace Prize Laureates

The National Theatre

The Uniquely Designed Opera House

Vigiland Park

Sinnataggen - The Infamous Angry Little Boy

Looking Towards the Fountain in Vigiland Park

The Monolith at Vigiland Park which took 14 Years to Carve

A Recovered Viking Ship

The Beautiful Lines of a Viking Ship