Monday, June 29, 2015

Tien Dat, Box Hill by Bureaucrat

Although we were all at Tien Dat to throw a surprise birthday party for Big Fil, it turned out that we were the ones that were given the surprise.  Having thought that Big Fil was reaching a milestone birthday, we all felt a bit silly when Big Fil explained to us that his milestone birthday was still one year away (d'oh!).  In any case, it's the thought that counts and we told Big Fil to remember to look surprised next year.

As there were quite a few of us, I was only able to take photos of the dishes that were close to me. Ms No Meat had ordered the vegetarian Vietnamese salad, which looked good to me but she said it was okay.

The Lawyer and I shared an entree of the steamed rice noodle pancakes. It was served on a bed of beanshoots and topped with slices of this porky pate and dried shrimps. A delicate but distinctly porky and shrimpy flavour, with a pleasantly chewyish texture - I quite liked this.

My grilled lemongrass pork vermicelli salad was okay.  I've definitely have had better.  Lots of noodles but the pork wasn't juicy and overly lean and it had rather minimal amounts of salad ingredients (shredded carrots, cukes, lettuce and herbs).

The Lawyer's mixed tripe and beef pho was also okay.

And he also got an iced coffee for drinks.

Verdict: we liked it.

The consensus among all of us was that Tien Dat was okay but it used to be much, much better.  It is undeniably popular as the place was packed out - both upstairs and downstairs.  However, for those of us who had been loyal Tien Dat diners, they felt that Tien Dat is resting on its laurels.  As this was my first visit, I thought it was okay but nothing exceptional about the food.

The service was a bit slow and erratic.  The drinks and dishes came out at different times, which didn't necessarily reflect when they were ordered, and we had to follow up with the staff a few times to check where our orders were at.

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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Comptoir des Archives, Paris by Bureaucrat

Having wandered around the artsy Le Marais region in the 3rd arrondissement, we were needing sustenance and a place to rest our feet for a while (plus, I had to consult our map to figure out how to get back to the hotel).

One thing that I love about France is the plat du jour.  You can eat so well on a budget if you pick the dish of the day.  Lucky lucky me, today was duck breast with Lyonnaise potatoes. This amazing serve of delicious duck was 11 euros.  Gorgeously plump slices of duck breast, smothered in gravy, served with lots of pan-fried potatoes. Miam miam! The dish came with some bread.

We also shared an entree of onion soup.  This was pretty good but we've had better for sure.  A nice deep savoury broth which was loaded with finely sliced onions and topped with melted cheese on slices of baguette. 

Needing a caffeine hit, the Lawyer also got a coffee, which was rather weak.

Verdict: we liked it a lot

A nice spot for a meal.  Friendly and quick service.

41 Rue de Archives
75004 Paris
Telephone: 01 4272 1356

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Rae's Restaurant at Balgownie Estate (by invitation), by Obelix

We were thrilled to have the opportunity to drive up to beautiful Balgownie Estate to sample their Winter menu.  Bureaucrat was there previously and loved it.  Rae's Restaurant is located within the Balgownie Estate, one of the reknown vineyards and spas in the Yarra Valley.  The focus at Rae's has always been on using fresh seasonal local produce and they did not disappoint with their Winter menu.  The menu was well thought out with a show case of Yarra Valley's finest.  The dinner offerings were more extensive compared with the lunch with the option for dinner to have two courses for $60 or three courses for $75 plus drinks.

We so happened to both select seafood options for entrees.

C had the half dozen oyster au naturale and I had the seafood chowder with herb oil.

My chowder had succulent pieces scallops, prawns and a variety of fish within.

The table was abundant with good food.

Our mains were the Tasmanian Atlantic salmon with an Asian twist  of curry marinade, roasted cashews, coriander and Vietnamese mint.  This was what C ordered and not a grain of rice was left on the plate.  Licked clean.

I went the carnivorous route and ordered the vine smoked char grilled boneless rib eye.  Say no more, they had me at vine smoked and char grilled.  It was perfectly medium and the smokiness had me smacking my maw.  The problem sometimes with steak is that they are not so photogenic but trust me, it was a magnificent piece of meat.

C wisely choose a side of button mushrooms crumbed and deep fried with herb pesto.  These were so moreish we happily scoffed down the whole lot.

My side was the broccolini with soy ginger honey glaze and fried shallots.

The staff were so friendly and affable and they offered all sorts of suggestions for desserts and although we were getting quite full, we could not say no to these delectable sweets.

Chef Sunil suggested the ginger and yoghurt pannacotta with Szechuan pepper infused pineapple and blood orange syrup.  C dutifully ordered this and loved it.  I stole a spoonful and it was so smooth on the palate, I would have happily eaten her's and mine.

One of the other staff recommended the warm red wine cake made with Balgownie shiraz served with cinnamon ice cream, sultana compote.  It was divine.  I highly recommend this.  The cake was more like a warm pudding and the cinnamon ice cream went so well with it.

Whether your table faced outwards to the expansive rolling hills or towards the warm hearth of Rae's, it's a beautiful ambiance either way.  The staff are attentive without being intrusive and friendly.

Verdict:  We loved it.

Rae's Restaurant Winter menu has a wonderful selection to please all palates showcasing fresh seasonal local produce.  I would highly recommend a visit to Balgownie, check out their cellar door and duck in for a feast.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Aunt Billie's, Blackburn by Obelix

It was a month of birthdays in our family and to celebrate collectively, we brunched at Aunt Billie's one fine Sunday morn.  Aunt Billie's was chosen by one of the birthday peeps as she often drove past this airy cafe with its al fresco seating and had been curious.  I should say up front that the birthday peeps footed the bill for this one so I don't know the exact cost of the meal suffice to say it fell within the mid range cost bracket. 

The menu was a mix of burgers and breakfast affairs.  P saw the beef burger and chips and went straight for it.  He reported it was on a brioche bun and his only reported regret was that he wished he could have had two or perhaps a larger diameter burger.  I don't believe he even got to try the French fries as Kiddo snaffled it all. 

I on the otherhand had spotted the soft shell crab burger which could not go untested.  It too came on a brioche bun with fresh slaw.  There were three generous bits of crab within.  It was naughtily greasy. 

My mum enjoyed the Aunt Billie's version of an eggs Benedict.  It came with ham hock, smashed peas, poached eggs and hollandaise.

Birthday boy had the Aunt Billie's version of a big breakfast.  Toast, eggs, a wodge of beans and mushrooms.

Birthday girl had a veggie fritter which came with poached eggs and haloumi on top.  It was very substantially sized.

Kiddo is going through a no-egg phase.  Whilst Aunt Billie's had kid's options, most of them featured eggs as afterall, we were in an all day breakfast place.  So instead, Kiddo had the soup of the day.  It was a ham hock with veggies and it came with two slices of bread.  She ate it all so I guess that's testimony enough. 

My dad had the healthiest option out of us all, a breakfast dish with mushrooms, kale and eggs.

A few of us enjoyed soy chai lattes with the lunch. 

The lovely staff at Aunt Billie's figured we were celebrating birthdays and we received two sweet offerings for each of the birthday peeps on the house.  We took these home to share along with the birthday cake.  The little cakes were divine.  One was a pistachio flavoured cupcake and the other a hazelnut meringuey type cake with chunks of caramel.  It was a kind and thoughtful gesture. 

Verdict:  We loved it. 

Aunt Billie's is pleasant cafe serving all day breakfast and other cafe type items.  It is kid friendly and service is warm and inviting with plenty of al fresco space and off street parking. 

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