Monday, March 29, 2010

Sandrino Cafe & Pizzeria Restaurant

I often wonder why Sandrino is always packed full of people, after having dine there for twice (first time mainly due to the amount of people in there, 2nd time visit wasn't even my choice), I still don't get it!

However, if you are looking for the Italian cafe atmosphere, I guess you will get it from here. You'll get to see chef in action on the left and a huge double wood fired pizza as the backdrop of the restaurant. Talk about atmosphere, there sure can provide it!

If you are care about the food quality, my advise to you is to give it a miss. I've read some really positive review about this restaurant, but having try it myself twice, it is indeed quite disappointing.

I brought visitors for lunch on a sunday after bringing them tour around Freo (that was my first visit). The room was a bit dark in the afternoon, not as lively, but the big wood fired pizza oven does add some character into the room.

We ordered spaghetti marinara, a sausage + olive pizza and a caesar salad.

Being such a popular Italian cafe among the local here in Freo, I would have expect their pasta to be good, unfortunately the tomato based sauce on the spaghetti was lacking in BIG flavour, i don't taste any herbs in it. It was a huge let down, as i always have impression that the Italian loves their fresh herbs and they love using herbs to bring the dish to the next level. Here in Sandrino, obviously doesn't believe in it!

So I thought maybe the pizza could help to change my impression towards them, but the dough was way too doughy, felt like i was chewing on gums. I would expect the base to be crispy because they are cooking them with a wood fired pizza. In terms of flavour, the pizza sauce was bland too, i only enjoyed picking out the sausages and olives on the pizza.

The caesar salad could just be one of the worst i've ever tasted, presentation was kinda empty, it was sauceless, baconless and crouton-less. I prefer my caesar salad with more bacon and croutons, right amount of eggs and just enough sauce coated on the lettuce.

Service too was a hit or miss, not great, not bad, just not good enough, we don't get the sense that they want us to be there. I may be ordering the wrong dish or we weren't there on the right day, but I wouldn't rush back as there are more better cafe/restaurant in freo that is doing a way better job.

Having said that, I went back to Sandrino after a couple of months, it was a group choice not mine! But I do hope that they are able to impress me this time around. Who doesn't deserve a second chance eh!

This is what we had, an entree Pizza Bianca with sausages and marinated olives, some spaghetti and a main size Garlic Prawn with rice.

The pizza is of the same quality, chewy and overly doughy, the sausage wasn't one of the top in Perth, my mate complaint that the porky smell was way too strong, it's not a very nice experience afterall.

Their spaghetti sauce is the main problem here, they were lacking in flavours. My mate had their Spaghetti Marinara and she said she can't even taste the seafood, we suspect that they blanch the seafood seperately and then only toss it with the sauce and spaghetti, what a shame! Although, i must admit, the Garlic Prawn regain their status by 20%, it was edible, ok and just alright. The prawns were bursty though, and who doesn't like garlic prawns cooked in butter and cream? They gotta be tasty!

We didn't stay for coffee, instead we went to Gino's just opposite Sandrino for a mellow cup of coffee.

Food: Wasn't up to par, I'll give it a miss
Service: Don't feel welcome nor friendly
Atmosphere: The pizza oven added some points here but the tables were so close together that makes it hard for you to go to the loo!
Price: On the average, just like your usual suburban cafe!
Will I ever be back: It's a big NO, if it's a group choice again, I'll insist not to go again. 

Sandrino Cafe & Pizzeria Restaurant 
95 Market Street
Fremantle 6160
Phone: (08) 9335 4487

Sandrino's Cafe & Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 26, 2010

Chanterelle at Jessica's

If you're a massive seafood lover like I do and love old school classic European cooking style, this is a place for you!

We got to know this place from the entertainment book, without much expectation we thought to give it a try, since it's located in Hyatt Hotel. We searched high and low in Hyatt, only to know that they are not part of Hyatt Hotel group. They are in fact, just next to the hotel courtyard! If you go in from Terrace Rd, you would have easily locate them.

We doubt for abit, once we step our foot in, the place was empty (it was a Tuesday arvo)! I wondered if they were open *gasp!*. Soon after, someone came out and greet us.

Awards plaque, dated decor and furnitures, water tank with live seafood. 

Gold plate awards plaque were all over the wall, that's a good sign, but some of them were dated back to 1996, i wonder if they are still any good today. Decor and furniture was kinda dated, you felt like you have just walk into your grannies favourite restaurant. They also have 2 huge water tank that have live marron and lobster. However, once I've open the menu BOOK, yes it's as thick as a book, I start to change my impression on them.

Menu was HUGE and extensive, if you're a fans of Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen's Nightmare, you know that a place with huge menu could meant - disasterous! I'm working in the kitchen myself and i know how hard it's to maintain your fresh produce fresh at all time. I started to doubt on their menu, I don't want to eat mouldy meat nor fishy seafood, but everything on the menu sounds very interesting.

It took me a while to decide on what to have because they have 15 entrees to choose from, bare in mind, breads have their own section too! Going down from the list, there's 13 Seafood Mains and 10 choices of Meat Mains for you to choose. I gotta attend a course to learn what to choose for lunch!

Smoked fish chowder with scallops, prawns and mussels; Prawn bisque with cognac cream; Seafood tasting plate (salmon mousse, cured salmon, oyster shooter, salmon tartar, prawn, scallop salad); Goat cheese & caramelised onion soufflé with gruyere and fresh cream; Mint and Pea Risotto with curry seared scallops; Chicken and Pistachio terrine with onion jam and micro herbs and etc are some of the interesting items on their entree menu that is enough to make your life hard!

And yet, there are still another 23 choices for you to choose for Mains! Trust me, it's not easy to choose items from Bouillabaisse of W.A. fresh fish, prawns, mussels, scallops, to Oven roasted whole fish from our tanks cooked to order (yes, fish from the tank!), maybe Grilled duck breast with chickory, caramelised apple, port wine sauce rosti potatoes, perhaps Grilled fillet steak with braised ox tail, red wine and shallot sauce and parsley potatoes, or Wagyu steak tarter with french fries and and warm toast, they all sounded amazing.

Being such a hard arse to myself, I ended up with just a Bbq ocean plate ( salmon, snapper, tuna, scallops, prawns, squid) saffron risotto, dill butter sauce, i guess this dish is good for people like me who can't decide. And my mate who are sick of my miserable, she had Char grilled peppered tuna with bok choy and ponzu sauce instead (Of all the good choices!)

My mains came out looking exquisite and fresh (that's most important), to my surprise the seafood were really fresh and was cooked to perfection! The scallop was sweet, tender and juicy; the salmon, snapper and swordfish was crispy on the outside and as soft as marsh mellow on the inside, it was nicely seasoned as well, i can't believe it! The prawn and squid was equally amazingly fresh and tender. The saffron risotto was a bit bland in flavour but the texture was spot on, same as the dill butter sauce it needed a tad more acidity, other than that I'm really happy and contented with my dish, I enjoyed it very much!

The tuna dish was equally fresh and cooked to perfection, it was nicely charred so the smokey flavour from the griller makes you think that you are eating a piece of steak. Despite being perfect and all, but my mate perfer the tuna steak from JACS caffeteria.

After having the main, the portion was on the ok side, but a dessert to finish the meal would be purrfect! Again, we were facing a dilemma, 12 dessert item to choose from, you don't normally get this from the other restaurant in Perth! And they are made in house, some item on the menu caught my eye and again it makes my life harder. I was tossing between the Orange and grand marnier soufflé with honey ice cream and Chocolate uptopia (brulee, mousse, souffle, terrine, tart, ice cream) or Flaming bomb alaska with chocolate ice cream. When i finally made a decision, I was only be told that all of which that i have chosen will need to wait for at least 20mins, unfortunately for us we were rushing for work, so we gotta opt for something fast! It would've help if they have informed us earlier.

The tart is looking pretty sexy ** 

We ended up having Glazed passionfruit tart with king island cream and Classic Belgian chocolate mousse with fresh cream, they were equally good too. The velvety texture from the passionfruit tart give you a smooth finish, not overly sweet nor overly sour, but it was best to eat with the double cream that are provided with. It is indeed one of the best Passionfruit Tart you can get in Perth. The size of the tart can easily fill up 2 person. If you're a tart person, this might be the dish you want to try before you die, maybe share it with someone else just so you could have try their entree and mains easily.

The ever so rich Dark chocolate mousse, pair up with dark chocolate sauce, I got chocolate overdose! 

The chocolate mousse wasn't disappointing yet rich in flavour, very delicate and smooth all around. I do love Belgian dark chocolate, but what I am having here is 3 big quenelle of rich chocolate mousse, i think i OD from the rich chocolate mousse. Don't get me wrong, the chocolate mousse was really nice, it was spot on, but the portion was just way too big, i wish they only give me 1 quenelle of it then top it up with some nuts or some fruits, that wouldn't make me feel so sick towards the end. 

Some cookies and chocolate were served while waiting for desserts. 

No doubt, the chef must be someone with acquire skill and still practising the classic way of cooking, he is not someone who would surrender to contemporary cuisine that we see everywhere in Australia. That's a good thing, at least i know where to find dishes like steak or salmon tartare or even a good old flaming bomb alaska! Although, remember to skip coffee, i would much prefer the independant contemporary coffee on offer right now in Perth.

Yea, the coffee came to me like this, runny, steaming hot and messy!

I think Chanterelle at Jessica's worth mentioning, they are just another hidden gem in Perth. If they work on their decor, I think it will attract more of the contemporary foodies age between 25-40, whom are the one that is going out and spend. I don't mind going back to try the other stuff on the menu, I'm eyeing on the seafood platter and the souffle if next time I'm there!

Overall Experience: 4 outta 5 (decor needs some work, coffee was a let down)

Chanterelle at Jessicas
Shop 1 Hyatt Centre, Adelaide Terrace Perth
Tel: (08) 9325 2511
Fax: (08) 9221 5710 

Opening hours:
Monday to Friday from Noon to 2:00pm and 6:00pm to 11.00pm
Weekends from 6:00pm - 11:00pm

Chanterelle at Jessica's on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Great! another new site dedicated to Perth coffee scene. It's exciting to see all these new coffee huts/shops/kiosk popping up on Perth's street.

Visit for coffee reviews, checking out new coffee bar, or just to interact with other Perth coffee enthusiast.

I'm liking the new scene. There will be more educated coffee drinker and the coffee quality will be expected to increase at the same time.

I guess it's time to say good-bye to burnt and watery coffee! 

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Black Swan Winery & Restaurant

Got to know this place from a friend of mine, telling me that they serve black pig here, and according to her
 "the black pig was so tender and soft, the ratio of fats and meats is just right to salivate your entire palette, the flavour from the fat oozes out, going around your mouth, makes you crave for more, it was the best porky moment of my life" - And that was few years ago.
After hearing this, i suggest that we visit this place for black pig salivating moment and also do some wine tasting while we're in the valley.

It was a beautiful spring day when a group of us visited, included the friend of mine who wants to indulge into the black pork again! We started off the morning with some coffee tasting from Yahava koffee, chocolate tasting from Margaret River Chocolate Factory, wine and beer tasting from various winery/brewery before heading up to Black Swan Winery.

After much drinking, we were so hungry and can't wait to chow down a whole black pig!  We were greeted and seated soon after we arrive, it was a pretty quiet lunch for them, i guess that's how it's like in other winery restaurant in Swan Valley.

After we were presented with the menu, the black pig seems like the only dish that I am dying to try, without any hesitation, we ordered 3 black pig and 1 lamb dish, also a pate to share as entrees. If i haven't heard the raving from my friend, i wouldn't go for the black pig, instead i would have chosen something else, because the menu does have some other thing that sounds really good.

Not long after, we received our nicely present Chicken liver & foie gras parfait ẃ warm toast & kumquat jam. Those little crispy baguette toast was done just right, mop up with some really smooth foie gras parfait on top of the toast, it was divine. Oh, and don't forget to put some of the kumquat jam on top too! It's a great entree to share among your friends and it's only $12 for all those, wish we have more toast though, and i find that the seasalt that sprinkle around the plate was abit irrelevant.

Braised lamb rump ẃ roasted garlic, swiss browns, braising jus & watercress - $36

Here comes the mains, the lamb rump look unappetizing, it's way too black to make you want to eat it. I had a taste of it, we all agreed that the lamb rump is way too dry and the braising jus has a very strong flavour, it's definately not for everyone, but on the upside, the mash was really good! But for that price, we expected more than that, especially coming from an award winning restaurant!

Black pig “Coteletta” ẃ fondant potato, celeriac remoulade, rocket & lemon - $35

I was a bit shocked to see that my long waited black pig has been CRUMBED!! I wasn't too keen for it to be deep fried, but who knows what's the surprises waiting inside it! Afterall, alot of Japanese famouse black pig dish was crumbed and deep fried too! I was over optimistic, i thought i would be surprised once i bite into it, nonetheless, it tasted just like another crumbed deep fried food, and it wasn't even soft and tender, it was chewy, hard and dry. My friend that have tried the truly awesome black pig told us it wasn't serve like this a few years back, it wasn't even deep fried! I was having this inner monologue, screaming to myself "why would the chef uses such top quality porduces and deep fried it!" We can't even tell if that is the real black pig, because it tasted like normal pork and chips. If i want to eat deep fried food, i would have gone for fish and chips, or squid rings or even KFC and i wouldn't be paying that much too! Very disappoiting indeed, one of friend spent more than 45mins to cut and chew on the tough pork, she said and i quote "I was cutting the pork with the knife using all my strength, now my hand are sore and my jaw hurt like hell from chewing, i can't close my mouth now!" The dish is not working for me, the celeriac remoulade doesn't really goes well with the pork, that aside it was way too salty, the chef got carried away by putting too much capers into it. Though, the fondant potato is quite nice.

We skipped dessert after the much disappointing mains, plus they don't have a lot of choices in desserts too, but the Vahlrona chocolate terrine, forest berries, coulis, double cream - $15 sounds interesting!

We left the place immediately with sore hands and jaw, and a small comment to the cashier, she told us she will let the chef know, I'm not sure about that, maybe someone should go and check out if they have change anything to it!

Overall experience: 2 out of 5 (the foie gras and toast saved it)

8600 West Swan Road
Henley Brook
Tel: 08 9296 6090

Opening Hours:
Lunch for 7 days including public holiday
Dinner only Wednesday to Saturday

Black Swan Winery and Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Four Season Roasting Duck Restaurant

Ever wonder why Dim Sum Queen never actually writes a post about Dim Sum (Yum Cha) at all? So for the first time ever, I am doing a Dim Sum review.

Having tried most of Perth’s Dim Sum, at times I felt kind of lazy to write about Dim Sum that is just mediocre. But I do keep a small booklet that write about my after thoughts about the Yum Cha place, in point form! Or just a small note to myself “never ever come back to this place for Dim Sum!”

When I was still a kid, Yum Cha on the weekend with the family is more like a luxurious god sent present. They are never cheap, but the goodness from all those small little dumplings, makes your life feel so content.  All of a sudden, you forgot about the exam you are about to sit on the following week, the parents forgot about having to work on Monday.

After having tried the dim sum in Perth, I was even more contented. Arguably that Perth doesn’t have the best Dim Sum in Australia, but what I love most about the dim sum is that everything is bigger here, the prawns are fresher and bigger from where I grew up. And that’s where I begin my Dim Sum scout in Perth.

The first time I went to Four Season Roasting Duck for Dim Sum was a couple years ago, as I can’t remember it being really awesome nor really bad. But I do remember, there’s always a queue out there and the hanging birds (roasting duck, roasting chicken, BBQ pork and roast pork) were actually quite an attraction.

If I do need to get roasting duck, this is place where I'll go for, because their roast duck is really really good. Moist and tender duck meat, packed full of Chinese spices flavour rub on the bones, it's a finger licking good sensation too! That aside, we are only talking about Dim Sum today.

Prices are average as you can see from their menu, choices too are pretty basic. You'll often get waiters pushing the steaming hot trolley shouting for "har gao, siu mai, prawn dumpling...". The Yum Cha vibe is here, but as you turn around, look towards the cashier counter, you'll see the owner are often in his black face scolding his staff to clean that, to deliver that, do this, do that. It's pretty scary! To not piss the owner off, we've ordered some Dim Sum from the cart.

At the left, is the Phoenix Claw better known as chicken feet. I myself don't eat chicken feet, so according to my dining companion, they were saying the chicken feet needs more cooking time as it wasn't soft enough. On the right is Prawn and Chive Dumpling. I am a big fan of steamed dumpling, especially the one with big prawns inside.

But I am quite disappointed with their steamed dumpling, as you can see from the picture, the skin is way too thick and floury causing the dumpling quite chewy. I personally prefer a thinner and less floury skin, of course wrap up with huge bursty prawn. Too bad, their prawns are not as bursty nor fresh.

We also pick up other dishes like Steamed spare ribs, BBQ Pork Buns (Char Siew Pau), Pork and Prawn dumpling and Steamed Rice Flour Roll. I remember the Buns was pretty soft, and the BBQ pork filling inside was quite contented. Despite all the fatty food that we are eating, the hot pot of tea that we ordered did a pretty good job in washing down that fats. 

Last but not least, we can't go to Yum Cha without having munch on the Salt and Pepper Squid right? There were good, nicely seasoned and the size are not too big so it's quite soft too! We did left the place, feeling intimidated by the owner/cashier, also walking out the restaurant by staring at the hanging roasting duck, they looked good, but we were too full! 

Four Season Roasting Duck Restaurant 
Shop 8-9375 William St,
08-9228 9883 for reservation.

Opening Hours:
Thursday - Tuesday Lunch and Dinner.

Go for the roast duck and roast pork, it's usually very good. For Dim Sum, maybe try another restaurant, there are heaps more Yum Cha outlet in Northbridge.

Four Seasons on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Twisted Fork

A little cosy restaurant that is tucked away from all the limelights along Stirling Highway or Cottesloe area. This tiny little restaurant here is on the ever quiet Glyde St, Mosman Park. Just walk across the road, you'll find Tsunami, another restaurant that is serving French and Japanese fusion food, and that's the hype about that street.

Anyway, Twisted Fork was featured on the Gourmet Traveller's restaurant guide 2009 but it wasn't featured on the 2010's guide. I wondered if they have done something not so right that keeps them out of the guide. However, i went there with an open mind and see what's there has to offer.

This pocket-sized restaurant has it's own character; white French door, tainted wall, crisp white linen, down-ward spotlight, brown chairs, mirrors and clipboard menu. Sounds familiar? A bit like Cantina 663 on Beaufort St? Yea, just a bit, but Twisted Fork has a more casual, matured but homely feel to it.

We were served warm fluffy homemade bread slice with rosemary and sea-salt once we sat down. The bread was really fresh and tasty, if i stay around that area, i don't mind going there just for the bread!

Menu choices are not too big, but enough to make you wonder which one to have, because they sounds fantastic, seasonal and fresh. Also, there are some fantastic special of the day on offer too, something gamey like Rabbit and Chicken pot pie.

We went for their famous Pork Belly with Potato Gallette, Chilli Rocket Pesto and Scotch Fillet with Potato and creamy mustard sauce, and also a serve of homemade French Fries with Aioli.

The Pork Belly was braised in lots of spices like star anise, fennel seed and black pepper, and then roast them til perfection. The crackling was the bomb, though i wished that the crackling could be a tad thinner, and that would sent me straight to heaven. It wasn't a bad dish at all, the honey dressing goes well with the saltiness from the pork also it wash down easily with the hint of chilli and spices.

My dining companion had the scotch fillet, and he said it was good especially the creamy mustard sauce. Nothing beats a good homemade French Fries, and a good homemade Aioli. Fat + Fat = Blood good dish!

We were actually pretty stuffed, considering that we didn't have any entree at all. We opted for coffee and a dessert to share. Unfortunately, they don't do fancy desserts over here, just some basic pastries and cake that you have to pick out from the cake display.

We had the chocolate cake, it's not bad either.

At the end of the meal, chef Paul Zammit came out and asked how were the meal, he is a pretty chatty lad and it's good to chat with the chef that cooked your dinner at the end of night. I can see it from his eye that he is very passionate about his food, which is a good thing. Keep up the good work!

And don't forget, you'll get 25% discount if you present your WA VIP card.

Twisted Fork 
3, Glyde Street,
Mosman Park

Make sure you make reservation at 08-93853854, because they only fit in about 40pax per night.
They are open on Tue - Sat for lunch dinner.

Food Quality:  3.5 crunchy belly
Service: 4 crunchy belly
Atmosphere: 4 crunchy belly

Twisted Fork on Urbanspoon