Monday, 22 December 2014

Beautiful brunch dishes at a neighbourhood cafe at Flinderz, Hillarys

It let out the necessary ooze of liquid gold...

Coming towards the end of a postgraduate degree goes hand in hand with the unavoidable late nights, oodles of stress, squeezing and destroying of stress balls and the attractiveness of big, give away panda eyes. When I sat down last weekend for a late leisurely brunch, I was shocked to realise that it was my first brunch at a restaurant in 2 and a half months.

Food blogger, you say? What food blogger, I say.
Flinderz Restaurant, Hillarys
Even though I haven't set foot in a restaurant for a disgustingly long time, I have remained active on Instagram - active meaning the vicarious browsing through beautifully photographed breakfast and lunch meals that have saturated Instagram. As my thumb routinely did its usual up/down movement on the feed, it did a double take and halted on something beautiful that ignited my hunger pangs.
It was this from the lovely Amanda over at The Chef, His Wife and their Perthfect Life.

Exactly 2 days after, I woke up and texted Andy: we're going to brunch. Flinderz. Now.
He said it was the fastest decision I had ever made about deciding where to eat.
Menus in the alfresco seating area
When I turned into a little neighbourhood shopping complex, I knew immediately that it was going to be one of those places that I have a thing for. I am forever won over by those local and quiet, less well-known, 'neighbourhood gems' for lack of a better description, type of cafes. No need to hustle and bustle or fight for a table; it was simply go and take a seat wherever you would like. I like that.
Outdoor seating that's perfect for the sunny days
We chose to sit outdoors under their patio, with plenty of breeze. The grand carpark view doesn't deter anybody - everybody chose to sit outside to dawdle a beautiful sunny Saturday morning away. Unfortunately we didn't get any assistance after we sat down but I was more than happy to get up and grab menus myself. In hindsight I didn't even need to - I had already meticulously studied the menu at home and knew exactly what I would get.
Water and Cold Drip Coffee (Long) - $6
First to come was the cold drip coffee, which got Andy excited when he spotted it on the menu as he has been deprived ever since our dose at Plantation in Melbourne. We opted for the large over than the single shot, which came served in a glass with lemon slices inside and a small pot of sugar syrup. We were quite perplexed about the lemon - and if that is the norm, then us coffee newbies know nothing about it - but it gave a refreshingly citrus twist to an otherwise strong coffee.
Pulled Pork Benedict - $18
The Pulled Pork Benedict arrived next, with luscious hollandaise slowly dripping down its sides. Toast, braised pork shoulder and garlic spinach is nestled under 2 poached eggs slathered with golden spiced hollandaise and is exactly how I pictured the dish to be.
The eggs, really, were poached perfectly and let out the necessary ooze of liquid gold. A good, satisfying serving of #yolkporn.
We didn't say much to each other after the waitress walked away after putting down the dish on our table. Our knives and forks did all of the talking.

Flinderz Taste Board - $19
It is perfectly safe to say that having any kind of 'taste board' on any menus means no choice is required of me - I'm onto it 110%. It's my greedy way of fitting everything I can into the one dish, and thank goodness for it, because I would have been torn between the Quinoa Granola I came for and the Flinderz Taste Board. Two birds with one stone. Score!

The Flinderz Taste Board is a long dish of a few goodies, namely a miniature version of their quinoa granola, a smoked salmon and scrambled egg slider, a zucchini slice and a small jar of fresh orange juice. The menu does include yoghurt and fruit compote, so I was a little disappointed to see that my taste board did not have these. Everything else that was there however, made me literally clap my hands in glee.
Zucchini slice (part of the Flinderz Taste Board)
The zucchini slice is akin to the innards of a quiche, soft and eggy with cubes of softened zucchini. It rests on a bed of rocket and overall that portion of the board is a bit plain and bland for my liking. It would be more exciting if it were spruced up with sauce or similar, which also applies to the mini slider. Besides the saltiness of the salmon, the rest of the slider is quite plain with a soft bun that would have been great if toasted just a little more.

The mediocrity of its counterparts meant that the star of the dish truly stole the show. I wished for a bigger version of the quinoa granola (true thoughts of any foodie) after the first mouthful, or that I had ordered the main sized portion of this pretty little thing. At the centre is a small mound of banana pannacotta, surrounded by a colourful moat of blueberries, strawberries, bananas, granola, nuts, honeyed jersey milk and tiny purple flowers. As with all pretty dishes, it looked too good to eat for a second (and only a second!)

You little beauty, you!
It's funny because I am against ordering any muesli/granola type breakfast at a restaurant, because quite frankly I got sick of it after eating it everyday for breakfast when I first discovered how great it was. Put a few more things in it and it's a different story (and dish) altogether - I think it's a high possibility that I will return to Flinderz and be won over by the main sized quinoa granola all over again. The aesthetics of the dish, its contrasting soft and crunchy textures and its aesthetics (again), beautify this dish in many delicious ways.

Banoffee Pancakes - $16
Instagram is beneficial in many ways, and its usefulness came in the form of Banoffee Pancakes. I spied Flinderzs' (well that was hard) posting of this sin (there's no other way to describe it) that was not written down on its menu prior to visiting and had decided against ordering it until halfway through our meals. Sure, we were full, but why would you let the feeling of fullness stop you from ordering another dish, right? RIGHT?!

Birds eye view of the Banoffee Pancakes, because you need to view it from every angle
We called a waitress over to make our order as her eyes gleaned over our unfinished plates of food, and smiled. A lightbulb started to flicker in my head when she asked whether we wanted to order TWO plates of Banoffee Pancakes, but I decided to be sensible and quickly flicked the lightbulb switch off. We stuck with the one plate.

Sigh. No words.
The pancakes were definitely a head turner. There were 3 thick pancakes stacked atop one another surrounded by vanilla cream, caramelised banana and drizzled with oozy salted caramel sauce before being crowned by a ball of deep fried vanilla ice cream with coconut. The salted caramel and fried ice cream make it such a decadent dish that is quite filling, so it would be a wise (and seemingly considerate) idea to share. I found that I yearned for a contrasting texture amongst the soft and creamy mouthfuls but boy, this baby should stay on their menu!

The interior of the restaurant is flooded with loads of natural lighting
As we sat for hours, I couldn't help but notice the relaxed nature of everybody else around us as I chatted to the next table. There was no sense of urgency with this neighbourhood cafe, and I quite enjoyed people and dog-watching from our table outside in the alfresco area. It is hard sometimes to really feel a sense of community in the neighbourhood, but when I watched a man backtrack in his steps and put down his multiple shopping bags to help a dog untangle himself from his own leash around a pole, I couldn't help but smile.
It's the simple things in life that matter.
Flinderz, Hillarys
Monday - Tuesday: 7am to 5pm
Wednesday - Sunday: 7am to 10pm

Tel: (08)9403 5225
110 Flinders Avenue, Hillarys WA 6025

Flinderz on Urbanspoon

Monday, 1 September 2014

A step closer to authentic Malaysian cuisine at PappaRich Malaysian Delights, Northbridge

Papparich Northbridge on Urbanspoon
Disclaimer: HungryAgainPerth was invited as a guest to PappaRich, however all thoughts and musings expressed hereon are true ramblings by me, to me, and anyone who wants to listen.

It is easy to go OTT with the satay flattery...
PappaRich, Northbridge
Just as I thought Perth's sunny winter skies were indicative of Spring, flowers, blossoms and hayfever ahead (Winter, where WERE you!), it rained. It rained hard. I wasn't particularly keen on leaving the comforts of my bed or my pyjamas, but hey - when PappaRich is in town, nothing comes between Pappa and I.

I battled the heavy rain, Friday traffic, city parking and the hoards of impatient and angry after-work commuters on the road for an hour before reaching Perth's newest Malaysian food haven in the middle of Northbridge. Despite opening over a fortnight ago, PappaRich is evidently still wildly popular with a queue snaking out of its entrance for the entire night.
PappaRich wall decor and the bar
Inside the bar stood around 2 handfuls of staff members who pumped out endless drinks the whole night. It is easy to understand how the food and drink orders arrive no more than 10 minutes after ordering - the amount of people working is pretty mind boggling. As I drooled through the entire menu (starting from the dessert section first of course), a table sat down next to us, ordered and got both their mains before I even placed my order.

This is efficiency at its most efficient!
Division of the menu into various sections
Names of dishes in the menu are accompanied by large, vibrant pictures of the dishes themselves. The speedy process at PappaRich is definitely helped by the very independent ordering system, whereby diners write down their dish number from the menu and press a button at the table to flag a waiter's attention. Sure it's sacrificing the personalised touch of service, but the 'no fuss' approach here is all a part of the overall experience.
Tropical Lime and Open Sesame - $7.50 each
I'm the type of person to never order drinks with my meals but looking at the huge selection of beverages on the menu (there's apparently 60 of them!) made it pretty hard to resist. The drinks pages are saturated with coffees, teas, milks, juices, shakes and all sorts of other beverages that you may have never seen before.

I really loved my summery tropical lime concoction, which was a fusion of refreshing lychee juice with a creamy dollop of ice cream and mint. The Open Sesame was a much thicker beverage bursting with the aroma of sesame - similar to drinking the Chinese black sesame soup dessert in a mug. These drinks are categorised under 'Pappa's Delicious Concoctions' in the menu and are desserts in their own right.
Curry Seafood Laksa - $14.90
The noodle section includes many classic Malaysian dishes which are served in soup, wok-fried or with soup gravy. With every intention to try something new and different from the menu, I still couldn't stray too far away from my beloved laksa but I'm definitely wanting to hang out with the Asam Laksa next time. I didn't surprise myself too much and ordered a curry seafood laksa, which came brimming with prawns, mussels, fish cake, fried tofu, bean curd and eggplant.

I like the level of spiciness of the soup and am pleasantly surprised by the eggplant, which I initially envisioned as a lump of gradually disintegrating mush in the soup. I nearly mistook it as a big fish fillet as it holds its shape so well after being lightly fried, which also gives it a slightly crunchy batter.

Laksa Eating 101: Lean close, breathe, slurp, repeat.
Oriental Chicken Chop - $15.50
Being a staple food in Asian cuisine, the rice section in the menu is the biggest and mightiest. There are different combinations of proteins and vegetables that are served with 3 different rices - chicken rice, coconut rice and biryani. The chicken chop is a large fillet that is breadcrumbed and deep fried, giving it a slightly crunchy exterior. Served on the side is a small medley of vegetables and an aromatic portion of chicken rice with the fragrant scent and taste of ginger throughout.

My love for rice has earned me my affectionate nickname, Rice Bucket, given to me by my parents. I have not felt a love so true - indeed my favourite part of this dish was that fragrant rice, which I could devour on its own.
Roti Canai - $7.50
The one golden rule I personally have for eating at PappaRich is to order the roti canai. I urge you to experience the goodness of hot and freshly made, flaky, yet fluffy, yet crispy roti for yourself, as it is glaringly one of PappaRich's in house specialties. Towards the end of this post I've included some pictures and an animation compiled of the photographs we took of the roti sifu in action haha.
Close up of the roti canai
There is something so simply satisfying about diving in with your bare hands and tearing apart a hot, flaky piece of roti, feeling the warmth between your fingers before you dunk it in the accompanying sambal, dhal and curry sauces. It is one of my all time favourites - the feel, the aroma, the taste. I've finally found the answer to that annoying question, 'What would you take with you to a deserted island?'. Roti it is.
Mixed Satay (6 pieces)  - $13.90
Another golden rule of life is diversification, which I have followed completely by choosing the option of mixed satays. This gives you homemade satay peanut sauce, cucumber, sliced red onion and 3 skewers each of beef and chicken, both deliciously marinated and grilled. A pet hate of mine is very dark, charcoaled skewers of satay which supposedly give it a rich, flame-licked taste and aroma, but to me tastes of bitterness. I quite like PappaRich's satay skewers, which are perfectly (perfect in my eyes anyway) marinated with fresh lemongrass and turmeric before being grilled to give it a deliciously warm aroma.
Chicken satays
Beef satays
I know it is easy to go OTT with the satay flattery, but I truly did enjoy the satay skewers. Both were great in their own right, as both meats were juicy and tender.

Which was my favourite?

Hmm. Both.
Biryani rice with beef rendang and sambal prawns
There were quite a few instances during dinner where dishes were being delivered to our table which weren't actually ours - though for a split second I did wonder if I subconsciously ordered another main meal and another roti canai without realising I did. We would have dug right in into this biryani rice dish that wasn't actually ours.

See sometimes, it's lucky that I have an obsession with taking photos of my meals. I didn't eat this, but here's a photograph of it. Just because.
Sago Pudding - $5.50
What made me LOL during ordering was after Andy told me to order the sago pudding and the tau foo fa dessert, then followed this up by asking, "So what are you having for dessert?" Quite naturally, I answered with "YOUR dessert!" as I was somewhat sure we would have quite possibly imploded by the time we got to dessert.

Just as well, the sago pudding is a small, delicate dessert of sago pearls topped with a sweet red bean mixture and sugar syrup. Surrounding the pudding is a moat of coconut milk that adds an overall creamy texture to the dessert.
Tau Foo Fa King with Gula Melaka - $5.50
Another famous dessert that reigns in the world of Asian desserts is the tau fu fa, or tofu/soybean pudding in a more Westernised context. This is a favourite of many, winning hearts and bellies over with its soft, silky texture that quite literally slips and slides down your throat. 
Tofu pudding dessert
With a name that is at risk of looking like those you see in internet memes, PappaRich's 'tau fu fa king' is as silky as I had expected. The tofu has a nice glossy sheen and is served in a bowl of palm sugar syrup. I would have loved it even more if the tofu had a texture that was slightly less firm and if it were served at a warmer temperature.

Whilst some prefer it cold, my personal preference for eating tau fu fa is a toasty, comforting and warm temperature whilst it is pelting buckets just outside the door.
PappaRich drinks service area
The making of roti
Just before we take ourselves and our loaded stomachs and roll out the door, we get an up close experience watching roti being made by a staff member who had been flown interstate to receive training in this very important skill. We watch as a small disc of dough very quickly turn into a large, paper thin sheet as it is kneaded, flipped, whacked, pounded and goes through a series of aerobatics.

Whilst these may appear as very large movements, the art of making roti itself is a fine and delicate process to ensure that perfect roti canai is served flaky and fluffy every time. I admit describing the process using words such as whacked and pounded does not do it justice very well haha, but hey, here's what I mean:
I'm kinda close, right?
A bright, welcoming interior
 I'm quite in love with the interior design of PappaRich, which features a lot of deep, earthy colours contrasting with the many light sources that brighten up the dining space. It is very much an 'Order-Eat-Leave' eating environment, but the warm smiles from the many, many staff members still help to fuel Perth's voracious appetite for Malaysian cuisine.

Yay for PappaRich making little old Perth its big new home!
PappaRich, Northbridge
Sun - Thurs: 10.30am - 9.30pm
Fri - Sat: 10.30am - 10.30pm

Tel: (08) 6361 1766
101 James Street, Northbridge WA 6003

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Must go destinations for food and beer sampling at Lamont's and Feral Brewing Company, Swan Valley

Lamont's, Swan Valley
A sandwich made evil by immersing it into the depths of a deep fryer...
Lamont's, Swan Valley
A few weekends ago, a group of us piled into a car and sang our way on a road trip to Swan Valley for the day. The weather was extremely kind to us that weekend and we were blessed with a warm, cloudless sunny day right in the middle of the winter season. This picturesque, vineyard saturated region with rolling hills and green fields is as popular a tourist destination and a weekend getaway visit for locals, even though it is only a 10 minute road trip for a few of my friends who live down the road from this beautiful untouched region.
Outdoor seating, right off the beaten track
We arrived at Lamont's location, with no Lamont's in sight. We got over the initial confusion and drove straight into the barren field and followed the dirt track around the bend and met with the restaurant, spread out over an impressively large outdoor area. The seating area with large wooden benches is inviting, spacious and littered with sunlight, shaded by a large patio.
Alternative outdoor seating
Next to the patio are several wooden barrel tables shaded with large umbrellas and stools that provide alternative seating options.
Inside Lamont's
In addition to outdoor seating, there is ample indoor seating amongst the cosy and surprisingly homely ambiance of Lamont's. The artwork on the walls, pops of colour from flowers in vases dotted around on tables and various items for sale (even hats and bags) add charming touches to this indoor area with a busy, neatly cluttered feel.
Indoor seating options
We are greeted by a friendly lady from behind the counter who we tell that we are ready to eat everything from their kitchen. Armed with a handful of paper menus (which change frequently) and an army of rumbling stomachs, all of us have undeniably voracious appetites. With a recommendation to order 8 dishes from the 9 items on the menu to share between the 6 of us, we argue over what not to get. Everything, and I mean everything, looks mouthwatering at this stage, even though they are nothing more than words on a page.
What ordering everything on the menu looks like
We make our way back inside the restaurant to place our orders at the counter. The dishes on the 'Small Tastes' menu are designed to be plates to share, which makes it a great opportunity to try absolutely everything on the menu. And I am quite sure this is the first time I have ever walked into a restaurant and was able to say, "I'll have everything on the menu, thanks".
Hot chocolate; Straight cut chips and rosemary salt - $9.50
A few drink orders arrive around the table once we start digging into some dishes. The chips are unbelievably crunchy, as suggested by their golden brown colour and straight, crispy edges.
Duck and cognac parfait, crushed toasted hazelnuts, mandarin oil and crostini - $17.50
The first item to arrive in record time is the one thing I had the highest anticipation for. Nothing makes me weaker in the knees than a rich, decadent parfait, and sure enough this plate was stationed in front of me and became my own main meal.

One of my pet hates is the lack of bread with parfait in some restaurants, that it almost feels like it is a sneaky tactic to encourage diners to order more servings of bread to have with the parfait. My eyes boggled at the sight of generosity on the plate in front of me; a hefty slab of creamy parfait loaded with a layer of crunchy toasted crushed hazelnuts and an unbelievably large mountain of crostini on the side. The parfait and crostini is served with a light drizzle of mandarin oil which I am grateful for - it is certainly easier to have the already-rich parfait with fresh, crisp bread that is not saturated with oil or butter. Explains how I demolish half of the block of parfait. Alone.
Pork and peppercorn rillettes, roast pears, Malbec syrup and crostini - $16.50
The next dish is a similar looking dish to the parfait, in terms of the same pile of crostini served with the main component of the dish. The pork and peppercorn rillettes are a favourite amongst a few of us - it has the look of shredded tuna with a creamy, soft consistency.
Adding more to the flavour of the melt-in-the-mouth tenderness of the pork is the malbec syrup and the three delicate roasted portions of pear balanced on top of the rillettes, providing a complementary light sweetness to counteract the otherwise fatty, heavy feeling from eating the dish after a while.
Potato croquettes, smoked salmon and horseradish creme fraiche - $20.50
The potato croquettes and smoked salmon is a more guilty version of your usual Tom, Dick and Harry breakfast dish of hash browns with an extra side of smoked salmon. The potato croquettes have a golden crispy exterior and a thick, fluffy filling. The element that made the dish pop for me was that horseradish creme fraiche; its lightly savoury flavour tying all the other components of the dish together.
Beetroot, rocket, crisp pancetta, marinated feta and raspberry vinegar - $16.50
The beetroot and rocket salad was initially the underdog dish which was wildly unpopular amongst everyone on our table except one. She ultimately gained the bragging rights to making the great decision to push through with her choice which we were all grateful for, after being defeated by the rich, creamy and many deep fried components on every single other dish. The rocket and raspberry vinegar dressing was a refreshing saviour with its acidity to cut through the satiated feeling. The long, paper-thin strips of pancetta were crisp and so brittle they cracked apart easily, providing a different texture to the softness of the beetroot and marinated feta. The earthy taste of beetroot is not something I usually fancy, but in this instance was a good pairing with the rest of the dish with its raw and fresh flavour.
Deep fried sandwich, shaved ham, mozzarella and anchovy butter - $14.50
There was quite the hype for the next dish, which created a lot of commotion when someone first spotted it when scanning the menu. The equally as heart-stopping as it is heart-racing deep fried sandwich is a combination of the classic ham and cheese sandwich made evil by immersing it into the depths of a deep fryer. We really can (and do) deep fry anything these days!
You dangerously beautiful thing, you.
The crunchy golden crust on the sandwich encased two slices of bread, already cut into sections with anchovy butter and melted mozzarella oozing out from its centre. The crunchiness, the creaminess, the 'meltiness' of the cheese; it's a sinful treat that tugs at your heartstrings with its guilty pleasure.
Duck and orange arancini and orange syrup - $18.50
Carrying on with the deep fried theme of the day comes the duck and orange arancini and orange syrup. Similar to the sandwich, the outer crumb is a thin, crisp layer that conceals a hot, molten heart of creamy, cheesy rice and thin shreds of duck.
Grilled "Butterfield's" scotch fillet, hot onion jam tartlet and aioli - $22.50
We all reach eagerly for the next dish - a grilled and sliced scotch fillet on aioli alongside a hot onion jam tartlet. Whilst the beef is soft, tender and cooked to perfection as we had all expected of it, the onion jam tart is a small pie with pastry that was a little dry. In terms of flavour however, this dish was a winning combination for me.
Coq au Vin pie and pumpkin cream - $18.50
The last dish to arrive after a long while was the coq au vin pie, a colourful, vibrant plate that is reminiscent of fresh, warm wintery flavours edging onto spring.
Dill, red onion and parsley adorn the crown of the small pie, housing a filling of wine-braised chicken with a strong, nearly musky flavour. It isn't everyone's cup of tea, but the moat of pumpkin cream that surrounds the pie is what keeps the dish close to me - spoon after spoon is light, buttery and moreish.
A beautiful picture on the wall that could easily double as a window to the similar views in the Swan Valley region
We were too hungry to notice the small print on the menu, and unfortunately I only now notice Lamont's offers complimentary wine tasting with your meal. In addition, there is a discount for your purchases if you decide you need to buy some, right there and then!
We made a new loyal friend that sun-baked at our feet during our entire meal, who followed us around from when we first stepped out of the car
Lamont's offers a seasonal menu with great food to share at reasonable prices in a picturesque environment surrounded by nature, which definitely adds much to the experience. Being far away from the hustle and bustle of city life, busyness and the general buzz of city sounds makes the usual weekend brunch even more relaxing and special, especially when Mother Nature becomes your main dining companion.
Lamont's, Swan Valley
Thursday - Sunday: 10am - 5pm

Tel: (08) 9296 4485
85 Bisdee Road, Millendon WA 6056

Lamont's Swan Valley on Urbanspoon

The Feral Brewing Company
Considering the myriad of wineries and breweries in the Swan Valley area, a full day of destination-hopping and sightseeing is essential to experience all that this region has to offer. After brunch, we wander aimlessly up and down the different roads without a plan and pull over to whatever catches our eye. After a few inevitable touristy photos, we pull into the Feral Brewing Company for some beer guzzling.
Feral Brewing Company
This family-owned handcrafted microbrewery and restaurant in one incorporates a large restaurant with shaded outdoor seating and a large beer garden setting, making it a perfect backdrop to enjoy a few beers.
Seating areas with picture perfect views
The backyard of The Feral Brewing Company
Beer Tasting Tray - $16.50
We are all quite defeated by brunch at Lamont's and don't order much else besides this visually stunning tasting tray after we pass many tables on the way into the restaurant with this on them.
There are six miniature glasses holding the variety of Feral Brewery beers, which regularly change between their different brews. The glasses are lined on a wooden tray and are numbered for easy distinguishing between the beers. On this particular day, the sample of beers (L-R) is the Feral White, Sly Fox, Hop Hog, Kelisaison, Smoked Porter and the Land of Plenty.
The range of beers range from light, citrusy, spicy flavours to strong, smoky tastes with a bitter after taste. We taste and sip, passing the six different beer parcels around the table and share them around like tapas dishes. Whilst I really don't know how to appreciate the strength and flavour of the after taste of some of the beers, what I do appreciate is having such a wide choice of renowned food and drink right in our own backyard.
The Feral Brewing Company, Swan Valley
Feral Brewing Company
Sunday - Thursday: 11am to 5pm
Friday - Saturday: 11am to late

Tel: (08)9296 4657
152 Haddrill Road, Baskerville WA 6056

Feral Brewing Company on Urbanspoon
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