Monday, 29 June 2015

A warming winter buffet dinner at Straits Cafe in the Rendezvous Hotel, Scarborough

Disclaimer: Hungryagainperth was invited as a guest to Straits Cafe, however all thoughts and musings expressed are honest ramblings by me to you.
Straits Cafe Winter Buffet, Rendezvous Hotel, Scarborough
The weekend is nothing to me, as I work a full day on Saturday. To keep me going physically and mentally on a day where I know everyone else is kicking back relaxing, I end up snacking throughout the day roughly every 2 hours until I get home and demolish dinner like I have never eaten dinner ever before.

With Straits Cafe's Winter Buffet was on the agenda for dinner, I meticulously plan out how to structure my day's meals and most importantly, when should be the last time I could snack before dinner rolled around. 
A hot, cold and dessert spread at Straits Cafe's Winter Buffet
Many people would remember the buffet at Rendezvous as the Pines, but it has since had a grand refurbishment into its present day look - a stylish new venue in a prime location right on the doorstep of Scarborough Beach. Accompanying this is the return of the Winter Dinner Buffet, available every Friday and Saturday night at $59 for adults and $20 for children aged 5-12. Diners are able to eat their way through a selection of WA's quality produce that has been worked into traditional wintery comfort foods whilst enjoying picturesque views of the sunset and waves through the restaurant's massive windows. 
Grilled salmon with salsa verde
Green Pea and Ham Soup
Roast Lamb
Not surprisingly, everything at the buffet is house made with the exception of the cheese. We lift the lids and covers off all the hot dishes to see a fantastic roast lamb dish, salmon, a Singaporean chicken curry, Basmati rice and steamed vegetables, spinach and ricotta ravioli, roasted root vegetables and a cheesy potato gratin complete with a golden crust. On this particular night, roast beef graced the carvery station, but I found my thick piece dry so doused it with a heavy pour of gravy.
Sushi, shucked oysters, fresh prawns and crab
The cold selection included fresh seafood and assorted sushi pieces - mostly egg and smoked salmon. I was hanging out for some sashimi but unfortunately it isn't part of the buffet! I settled for a few oysters and prawns, which were unbelievably sweet and fresh that I ate all of them without any sauces or condiments. I ended up working my way through three plates with just prawns, which deviated very far from my original, good intentions of just one plate.
Other dishes at the cold selection of the buffet
Other choices alongside the seafood was a roasted red pepper quinoa salad, an antipasto platter, cold meats, a selection of breads and a make-your-own caesar salad station. On the other side of the table is a mirror image of the same dishes, with everything being topped up regularly.
Dessert spread
Arguably the dessert table is the most appealing to diners at a buffet - regardless of how full one can be, dessert provides the final ultimate satisfaction. Over time I still have not yet learnt how to contain my greed and still suffer from the 'Big Eyes Small Stomach' syndrome', where my eyes can forever eat more than my stomach can ever follow through with.

Although the selection initially appears to be small, it is a satisfying little spread of sweets and treats all made in house. There are also two house made ice cream flavours to choose from; a tangy strawberry flavour and a chocolate on the night we went.

My partial dessert plate
I love how the dessert spread offers miniature portions, so it leaves you room to sample everything (you know you're going to take one of each anyway!) The lemon tart is a beautiful square of tangy meringue and provides a refreshing change from all the other sweet choices. I also had myself a chocolate mud cake cube, a jar of fruit trifle, a chocolate mousse and a strawberry cheesecake, but the one that truly captivated my heart was the sticky date pudding. Kept warm inside a chafing dish, the cake is gorgeously moist even without the hot caramel and butterscotch sauces available to pour over.

And this time, my stomach managed to conquer all :)
Kiwifruit pavlovas and chocolate eclairs (which unfortunately came out after I unwillingly made the difficult decision to stop eating)

Depriving ourselves of food prior to a buffet is common (and such logical!) practice in anticipation of all the food we could potentially eat continuously over 2 hours. I have such an immense, nearly dangerous some might say, passion for buffets that Andy has threatened to ban me from visiting them because I eat until my stomach legitimately hurts. This time, I am wiser - I stop right before that point of food regret but not before I stuff down my second sticky date pudding before I call it quits.

If you want to talk value, the smaller selection of hot and cold dishes might leave you disappointed. There isn't a huge range or variety to choose from, but you can revel with the comfort that all the food is freshly prepared and not sitting on the counter top drying out or served in bulk to last a lifetime without being replenished. I would have loved more variety, but appreciated that I was able to get a fresh new serving of lamb when the last few meagre pieces of dehydrated roast lamb just wouldn't cut it.

I'm the type of food glutton who feeds off greed and loves a little bit of a lot, but I really need to start practicing what I preach when I am forever telling my students, "Remember, quality over quantity!"

The restaurant is spread out over a spacious and big open-spaced area, with seating divided into several sections that offer a quieter space away from the main buffet area. The staff are very accommodating and we received some of the best service I have had in a while; professional and helpful yet down-to-earth enough to share a joke and laugh with (or perhaps at) me when he well and truly thought I would have been onto dessert by the time he came around and collected around five plates of finished savoury food off me. Thank you big stomach!!

My advice: Start with the seafood and book for an early dinner session to catch the sun before it dips below the horizon. With the exception of great company, a brilliant sunset is the perfect accompaniment to a satisfying and warming dinner.
Entrance to Straits Cafe; this looks striking but naked at the same time!
Straits Cafe, Rendezvous Hotel Scarborough
Straits Cafe
Normal opening hours
Monday - Friday: 6:30am - 9:00pm
Saturday - Sunday: 6:30am - 9:30pm

Winter Buffet Dinner available Friday and Saturday nights only from 6pm during Winter months

(08) 9340 5746
Lobby area of Rendezvous Hotel Scarborough, 148 The Esplanade, Scarborough WA 6019

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Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Warming and delicious Indian cuisine at Bollywood Restobar, Innaloo

Bollywood Restobar, Innaloo
I am an avid Dimmi user and not surprisingly I received an email recently telling me that I was among their top 1000 restaurant bookers in the country. Testament to my appetite! But more importantly, it's a testament to such a great reward system they have that I have used and probably abused haha! To my delight, Bollywood in Innaloo was on their list of restaurants that we could redeem our points at - it was a no-brainer decision.
Curry (especially a table full of it) makes me ridiculously happy and grateful
I have heard people sing great praises about Bollywood and expected nothing short of fantastic. I visit the cinema complex that Bollywood is housed in quite regularly but have never set foot inside the restaurant and it puzzles me why. The decor is stunning; majestic yet contemporary looking with ceiling to floor murals, deep metallic hues and a bar adorned with a bright, neon pink colour. I'm impressed - and I haven't even opened the menu yet!
Complimentary snack
I really appreciate restaurants that provide you with small snacks to nibble on whilst waiting for your meal. We all welcomed these mini poppadoms with open hands and stomachs and enjoyed dipping into the duo of sauces that came with the crisp little discs. The dark red sauce is sweet and reminds me of the sweet and slightly tangy plum sauce in Chinese cuisine and the green sauce is refreshingly cool and minty.
Butter Chicken - $23.50
The second no-brainer was ordering the Butter Chicken - probably the epitome of Indian cuisine in a western culture but nevertheless delicious. Every chunky piece of chicken was tender and tasty, drenched in a rich, fenugreek flavoured tomato gravy with a slightly thick and creamy consistency. I loved the flavour and aroma of the gravy and had a great time soaking the last grain of rice and flake of naan bread I could fit into my stomach with that delicious sauce. I was fairly certain this would be my favourite dish of the night.
Chicken Korma - $23.50
Typically we follow a format of ordering a chicken, lamb, beef and fish dish when eating curries and this was exactly what I had intended to follow through with. Bollywood Restobar's menu has an absence of beef so this protein was replaced with a second chicken dish - a chicken korma with a much milder taste than the rest of the dishes we ordered. The cashew nut gravy is creamy but not as flavoursome as I had hoped for it to be as I love me some nuts! The menu describes it being cooked with a 'subtle combination of spices', but perhaps the subtlety was overly so - especially after the huge hits of flavour my taste buds have been knocked out with by the other curries.
Lamb Vindaloo - $23.50 
I am slowly turning into a chilli fiend and enjoy playing around with hotter tastes, but always regret it when I end up hissing like a violent woman with beads of sweat gleaming across my nose. The lamb vindaloo is at a level of spiciness that I can happily tolerate, but of course the definition of hot is a personal thing and subject to your own tastes - applicable from food to weather and right across to people. The menu states that the lamb is flavoured with vinegar and hot spices and sure enough it leaves a satisfying sensation of slight burn on my tongue.
Maseledaar Fish - $24.50
Trying new dishes I have never seen before on menus is forever my approach when dining out and this seafood dish is what caught my eye when scanning the menu of prawns, lobster and goan fish curry. I am so glad I was in charge of ordering, because this ended up being my equally favourite dish as the butter chicken :) Described as semi-dried snapper prepared in a kadhai sauce, I had no idea what to expect and picturing a grilled-style dish with fish fillets. The dish ended up looking very similar to a typical curry, but tasted amazing. The kadhai sauce is heavily tomato based (which sounds kind of standard and boring I know), but there was something about it that made me tip my rice into the curry bowl and eat straight out of it when I asked whether everyone else was done with it.
It was very oily for me - but I simply did not give a damn when I was stuffing my face silly.
Butter Naan - $3.50
Garlic Naan - $4
Overall the naan breads were good, ticking all the boxes of aroma and flakiness that ensued when we greedily tore them apart. The butter naan satisfied with all its visible buttery goodness that shone in the light, but the garlic naan - although with visible garlic flakes scattered over the bread - did not have a distinct garlic flavour even though it had a fragrant garlic smell. Although slightly underwhelming, the thick curry batter that I covered all my naan breads with probably would have masked any garlic hopeful thoughts I had anyway.

Kashmiri Naan - $5
If you haven't already tried sweet naan, you need to get your hands on some. It hasn't got the same flaky characteristic of naan bread as it is stuffed with a filling of banana, cashew nuts and dried fruit, so it looks more like a flat-pressed toastie. I really like the slightly sticky and chewy texture of the naan, and on its own it is good enough to be a dessert to end any curry journey.
Steamed Basmati Rice - $3.50
Kuchumber - $4.50
This small side salad of diced onion, tomatoes, cucumber, cut chilli and coriander tossed with lemon and spices is a great relief to the thick and creamy curries. The salad itself still gives a slight chilli hit but the zesty dressing is a great accompaniment. Plus, you need to try and have some veggies somewhere!
Bollywood Restobar interior
The ambiance of the restaurant is great; it is spacious and comfortable but also grand in demeanour. The hospitality was welcoming and friendly, our dishes were cleared in a timely manner and whilst we were encouraged to stay for dessert, the staff were totally understanding that we could stuff ourselves no more than what had already been done. There is a separate dessert menu riddled with full page of sweets, but it was a no-go for us after the successive no-brainers we had prior to dessert. There are times when 'no' is the more mature and sensible option!
Add these to your bank of successful pick-up lines :)

Bollywood Restobar, Innaloo
Monday - Sunday: 5:30pm - 10:00pm

(08) 9244 5499
Greater Union Cinema Complex, 6/57 Liege Street (corner of Scarborough Beach Road), Innaloo WA 6018

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Thursday, 18 June 2015

Get snap happy with beautiful vegan brunch dishes at Flora and Fauna, Northbridge

Flora and Fauna, Northbridge
If I was perfectly honest with you, I hate places that are hidden off the street out of sight - the so often quoted 'little gem of a restaurant tucked away in a back alleyway'...that is just so hard to find! I love the idea of a hideaway place being in some unknown nook and cranny, but hate spending a year and a half on an empty stomach driving up and down with my brake lights flashing like a disco ball trying to find it.

Yup, I guess I do get a little hangry!

Fortunately we only drove all the way up Aberdeen Street and back down again just ONCE whilst trying to find Flora and Fauna. It's not easily visible from the main street, as it is in the laneway just next to Via Torre Lane. Situated right next to Varsity Burgers, these two polar opposites could not be more strikingly contrasted neighbours. As a tiny boutique cafe, Flora and Fauna has built itself quite a loyal and vocal fan base touting about all of their beautifully artistic vegan, healthy brunch dishes and raw treats. And it is true, the bright pops of colour and arrangement of the food make delicious camera candy.
Goji Superfood Muesli - $14
As a firm believer of strictly no ordering of muesli bowls when eating out, I couldn't help but be lured in helplessly by the endless photographs of their muesli bowl I was exposed to. Because I don't think I would ever a). get full on a bowl of measly muesli; b). fancy ordering something I could smash together at home (just a less fancy version); and c). eat something so healthy, this is an entirely different story. Everyone's a sucker for pretty looking food and in this instance, all my anti-muesli values flew out the window. Gone are the days of healthy food looking and tasting like cardboard!
The prettiest breakfast muesli bowl
The combination of different fruits, nuts, flowers and vibrant colours would see this take out the title in a muesli bowl pageant. It is much like eating out of a flower garden with the presence of flower buds scattered over the bowl. I love the look of the dish with the addition of flowers, but I left a few buds uneaten as I wasn't a big fan of the slightly hard and gritty texture from the multiple layers of petals.
Digging up the treasure
The look of the muesli bowl is everchanging, as it constantly changes with the seasonal fruits available. Yay for the strawberries being sweet, because I have developed a slow dislike for strawberries over the years as the sour ones always have a fond attraction towards me. The passionfruit pulp added a nice and sharp zesty flavour burst to a few mouthfuls, and I would have loved a few blueberries too!

My eyes widened at first sight, mostly because the size of the bowl is ridiculously big and so loaded with fresh ingredients that it would overflow if you go heavy on the milk to muesli ratio (which I tend to do at home). I proved my 'I don't get full on muesli bowls' theory so wrong and ended up being pretty stuffed when I reached the bottom of the bowl.
The all important First Pour
I have always eaten goji berries in Chinese herbal soups all my life, so I'm not fazed by the sudden crowning of them as superfoods. I do like their sweetness and enjoyed them alongside all the pecans, almonds, coconut flakes and seeds in my muesli. The muesli itself is sweetened with real maple syrup, and is served with a choice out of dairy, almond, rice or soy milk or yoghurt. My only gripe is not having enough milk to pour into that deep bowl, so some mouthfuls were rather dry for me (sometimes greediness may get the better of me) :P
Herbed Smashed Avo on organic Turkish Toast (plus a side of free ranged scrambled eggs +$4) - $13
My hungry friend decided on the smashed avocado on toast, adding a dainty pot of scrambled eggs on the side as an extra. Even without it, the portion of the avocado was pretty generous and there has never been a time when a pile of green mush looked more delicious. I sneaked a spoonful or two of the smashed avocado and my tastebuds swooned in delight - the avocado is slightly tangy and bursting with flavour from the lemon, basil and whatever other seasonings were added to give it that full flavour punch. On the other hand, it was a slight punch in my face that I didn't order this for myself!
Happiness comes in so many forms
My ignorance meant that it came as a surprise that Flora and Fauna served only vegan fare. The food is so real and unpretentious, so it is refreshing for a change that I can read their menu and understand absolutely everything written on it instead of trying to guess or consulting Google what on earth my dish even is.

There is very limited seating inside the cafe - you are able to prop yourself up against the 3 or so bench seats and watch other diners eat outside the cafe at the few mismatched tables and chairs. It is a very quiet laneway and the passers-by are mostly patrons of the cafe, making it a quiet breakaway right in the middle of, yet calmly shielded away from the hustle and bustle of Northbridge.
Fauna and Flora, Northbridge
Tuesday - Friday: 7:30am - 4:00pm
Saturday - Sunday: 8:30am - 3:00pm
Closed Mondays

0468 948 281
4/70 Aberdeen Street, Northbridge WA 6003
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A mixed bag of Persian, Italian and Modern Australian cuisines at Recipe Restaurant, East Perth

Recipe Restaurant
After going through a few difficult months after my grandma's passing, my family has made a more conscious effort to spend more time together. Time is precious, and fortunately for us that means more frequent family dinners, whether that be around the dinner table at home or a restaurant dinner.

After I excitedly declared to my family that I had made a booking at Recipe Restaurant for the week's 'Restaurant Family Dinner', the conversation went a little like this:

Family: What cuisine are we eating?

Me: Persian!

Family: What kind of food is Persian cuisine?

Me (with sudden images of the Prince of Persia computer game popping into my mind): I think it's...bread, and, uh...yeah don't know.

I have never dined at a Persian restaurant before so I was quite ignorant at the type of food involved. I thought I'd educate myself a little by having a look at their menu but was left in a slightly more puzzled state than I was in to begin with. The menu doesn't reflect its claims of authentic Persian cuisine, but is rather a mix of Western and Italian dishes such as pastas, burgers and grilled seafood. It is actually a huge menu and choosing is a bit daunting.
Garlic Bread - $9.90
Our waitress was very friendly and was more than happy to guide us through the maze of choices on the menu. All the mains look very similar to one another as they consist of largely the same ingredients but with different combinations. Will we have the beef and chicken, or beef and lamb, or chicken and lamb, or beef and chicken and lamb together, or just the beef on its own?!
Gosh, it was as hard as choosing my career path!

Looking around us at the restaurant that was filled to capacity, we started lamenting about how long our dinner would take to arrive. Just in those initial moments of sorrow, the basket of garlic bread was plonked onto our table with our other orders following closely behind. The wait time for such a busy restaurant is quite impressive!

The toasted garlic bread did not disappoint - it was fragrant and crispy and perhaps might be a bit too much if you like your garlic bread to be slightly softer and fluffier. The bread is buttery and sprinkled with herbs and 24-month old parmesan cheese, and is extremely moreish and satisfying on a hungry belly.
Caesar Salad with Chicken - $23.90
On the flip side, the caesar salad leaves much to be desired. The serving size is meager, and looked somewhat poorly presented. The taste of the caesar dressing was tasty and strong but there wasn't enough of it to coat the cos lettuce. For its price, I think we could do with more chicken, croutons, bacon and parmesan.
Family Feast - $94.90
The Family Feast was the most anticipated dish of the night and the our first introduction to authentic Persian cuisine after the initial entrees. It is a massive protein feast; a huge plate loaded with skewers of different meats with different tastes. I really enjoyed the variety, which involved two skewers of seasoned hand-ground lamb (koobideh), two skewers of chicken breast and thigh fillets marinated in a mix of saffron, lemon juice and capsicum (jujeh) and one skewer of grilled beef striploin (barg). The description in the menu simply states that the beef has been 'tenderised in the traditional way', and whatever that way might be definitely left the meat deliciously tender.
Fragrant saffron rice (served with the Family Feast)

I underestimated the size of the skewers in the dish, and was pleasantly surprised at how hefty the skewers turned out to be. The chicken and lamb skewers were especially tasty and did not need any more seasoning - they were fragrant, delicious and very easy to finish! The beef striploin was tender but lacked flavour, and caused me to be heavy handed with the salt shaker. The grilled tomatoes, barbequed jalapeno peppers and shirazi salad (tomato, cucumber and onion tossed with mint) sides were not star components by any means, but a welcome addition to a very carnivorous meal.
Chicken Saffron Risotto - $26.90
Again, not an entirely authentic dish is a seemingly authentic restaurant true to Persian cuisine, I wanted a carbohydrate rich dish to fill the carb-hungry void in my stomach (more so my mind hehe!) Unfortunately I can't find any stand-out components of the risotto to speak about highly, as the dish was somewhat mediocre.

The rice is still quite hard and overall the dish is dry. I looked forward to this as I loved each of the individual ingredients - chicken, spicy lamb chorizo, peas, mushroom and asparagus - but compared to other risottos I would probably stick with the dishes that Recipe Restaurant does best by staying grounded to their roots, cooking delicious food that is aromatic from the combinations of herb and spice marinades.

Pay Recipe Restaurant a visit or two if you love your meat and to try the different combinations in their menu. A good idea would be to round up a few carnivores and share the dishes with each other so that a little bit of a lot can be tasted, especially when their dishes are more towards the pricier end. The food is worth the experience if you stick with eating Persian cuisine at a Persian restaurant rather than gravitating towards more contemporary western meals.

The restaurant is very family friendly and when the relatively small restaurant is full (like it was when we visited), the noise bounces and noise levels can become uncomfortably loud. A personal pet hate of mine is needing to compete with other tables just to talk to someone sitting just across the table within arm's reach of you, and this was a constant occurrence on the night.

The service was commendable for such a busy dinner service - our waitress was happy and friendly, and was great enough to share a joke with us that the kitchen did not need to wash our plates as we left them so clean after our meal. The wait time for food was also great for a restaurant that was full house! Positives aside; this is a message for the food photographers among you: You're going to absolutely hate the harsh white lighting inside the restaurant.

Isn't it just the worst when your food just doesn't look as good as it tastes?! Haha!
Recipe Restaurant, East Perth

Monday: 5:30pm - 9:00pm
Tuesday - Friday: Lunch 11:30am - 2:00pm and Dinner 5:30pm - 9:00pm
Saturday - Sunday: Breakfast 8:30am - 11:00am, Lunch 11:30am - 2:00pm and Dinner 5:30pm - 9:00pm

(08) 9225 5484
1/78 Terrace Road, East Perth WA 6004
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