Sunday, August 25, 2013

West End Deli

I have been really bad with blogging lately since I have moved overseas for a few months to study. Just before I left, I had the pleasure to brunch at West End Deli which was on my wish list for the longest time. Lucky for me, my brunch buddy was up for trying out the West End Deli with me!

West End Deli is suitably near the CBD minus the hustle and bustle of the city traffic. It is popular with the office crowd, families and the well dressed crowd. It is quite unlike any cafes that I visited in Perth or Melbourne. It has a certain vibe and atmosphere that is homely yet sophisticated. It is a juxtaposition that scores two thumbs up from me, and another two from my brunch buddy.

West End Deli
From the outset, the sight of chairs hanging from the ceiling may be a cause of concern. However, as you enter, you will appreciate the creativity of using hanging chairs as light pieces.

Score for creativity!
Interior- so picturesque.
 This is my favourite picture of the interior.

At the checkout
As we were ushered into the café, we passed the checkout counter which was adorned by delicious looking pastries and cakes. My friend and I ogled at the sight of them and I made a mental note to order the Portuguese Egg Tart as I walked past.

I love how the West End Deli is innovative with its offerings that we had such a hard time deciding what to get. Even the drinks are not your typical drink offerings that you can get at any cafe...

Honeycomb Mocha with real crumbled chocolate and espresso (AUD$7)
I was craving coffee but the combination of honeycomb, chocolate and coffee won me over. This drink was delicious! It reminded me very much of Cadbury's honeycomb chocolate but in a drink form. It was chocolatey, with crumbled bits of chocolate that melted in my mouth and bits of honeycomb which provided hits of honeycomb sweetness with some crunch. My only complain would be that I couldn't really taste the espresso but it was, nevertheless, a very delicious drink. I contemplated getting another but the price tag prevented it.

Honeycomb Hot Chocolate with Real Crumbled Chocolate (AUD$6.50)
 My non-coffee drinking friend got the Honeycomb Hot Chocolate with Real Crumbled Chocolate and she was nice to offer me a sip. Surprisingly, this was less chocolatey than the Mocha version and she preferred it that way as she said it was easier to drink without feeling too overwhelmed. I, on the other hand, preferred the "chocolatier" version. ;)

Pink Snapper, Israeli Cous Cous, Cauliflower, Parsley & Raisins (AUD$24)
We picked our mains and decided to share them. My friend ordered the Pink Snapper which was absolutely stunning! It was our good fortune that the dish's aesthetics and taste were congruent. I don't know what it is with fish dishes but so many places always get it wrong. However, this checked all the right boxes. Imagine crispy skin, tender, juicy and flaky fish, light and fluffy cous cous and cauliflower with hints of sweetness from the raisins... The biggest highlights were those bright peeled tomatoes as the tomatoes burst into tart, sweet and tasty fireworks in my mouth.

Pork & Mushroom Croquette, Smoked Creamed Corn & Fried Egg (AUD$18)
 I couldn't resist the sound of croquettes much less pork and mushroom croquettes. The element of smoked creamed corn was intriguing as well so I grudgingly passed up the idea of ordering two mains (the Tasmanian salmon, sesame spinach, slow egg & miso broth sounds amazing).

Look at the juices from the pork and mushroom croquette!

I liked how the croquettes were crispy on the outside without being greasy and the insides were full of juicy pulled pork with vague hints of earthiness from the mushrooms. As a mushroom lover, I would prefer the mushrooms to be more evident in the croquette but that's just my personal preference. The smoked cream corn was interesting as it was smoky and sweet. My friend loved it so much that I happily traded it for a bit more fish. :) The parsley did not add or detract from the dish but considering the popularity of parsley, I thought that it could have been substituted with another herb or vegetable. (PS: I'm not a fan of parsley.)

Portuguese Egg Tart (AUD$3.50)
 I was glad when it was time for desserts! The Portuguese Egg Tart arrived on the prettiest looking floral plate that I couldn't help taking more photos of it. The egg custard was encased in a buttery and flaky puff pastry shell but I couldn't quite bring myself to love this because it wasn't a Portuguese Egg Tart. It was probably a Western take of the Portuguese Egg Tart as Portuguese Egg Tarts typically do not have cinnamon added whereas English Custard Tarts typically have cinnamon or nutmeg added to it. This Portuguese Egg Tart also lacked the caramelized flavour that comes with the blemishing of the 'skin' (milk protein). Nevertheless, it was still tasty but it would fare better as a West End Deli Egg Tart since it was neither an English Custard Tart (English Custard Tart uses shortcrust pastry) nor a Portuguese Egg Tart.

Potted Vanilla Cheese Cake, Salted Caramel (AUD$12)
The presentation of our final dessert caught us by surprise! The waitress explained that the salted caramel component was in the toothpaste looking object. True to the concept of a toothpaste, the entrance was sealed and you would need to reverse the cap and use the pointy part to break the seal. The waitress also advised us not to put all the salted caramel at the top. We should put it in separate stages so that we could get the salted caramel as we eat.

Potted Vanilla Cheese Cake Uncovered with Salted Caramel in a toothpaste form!

We uncovered the potted vanilla cheese cake and the top was covered with what looked like toffee bits.

Decorated the vanilla cheese cake with salted caramel!
We had fun playing with our salted caramel flavoured "toothpaste" and decorating our cheesecake. The presentation was very novel and we were nicely surprised once again. Remember those toffee bits? They were actually popping candy! We found out as the popping candy sizzled and fizzled in our mouths. This dessert was very interesting as the vanilla cheese cake was sweet and creamy while the popping candy cut through the creaminess by adding the element of sweet fizziness. However, after a while, we found ourselves neglecting the salted caramel as it wasn't what we wanted in a salted caramel. It lacked the buttery caramel flavour and tasted like fake salted caramel (for the lack of a better description). The biscuit crumbs at the bottom were also soggy. However, the presentation, sweet creamy vanilla cheese cake and fireworks-like popping candy brought delights to our hearts and tastebuds that I didn't really mind the other lacklustre elements.

I am very impressed by the menu's offerings and the execution of the dishes that I couldn't stop raving about the West End Deli to anyone that would listen to me. While my overall dining experience impressed me, I feel that service could have been a lot better. The wait staff were efficient but seemed a bit standoffish. Another friend of mine, who brought her mum to the West End Deli after listening to me rant, commented that service was bad while she was there and that the staff were unapologetic and snobbish. Hopefully, the service will change to match up to the food and all will be good!

West End Deli
Breakfast/Lunch Hours: Tuesday-Sunday (7am – 3pm) (Closed on Mondays),
Dinner Hours: Wednesday- Saturday (Dinner from 6pm)
Address: 95 Carr St, West Perth
Telephone: 08 9328 3605

West End Deli on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Hidden Gem 1: Blend Cafe & Pizza Bar

Fancy Funghi?

Imagine my surprise when I found out that there are cafes serving brunch near my place after so many years of staying at my current address!  I have always lamented the effort it takes to drive to places like Perth CBD, Northbridge, Victoria Park, Subiaco or Leederville etc., get parking and queue with the throngs of people to get decent grub for breakfast or brunch.  The thought of it ALMOST makes me want to crawl back into bed and settle for simple oat porridge or toast for breakfast though I'm much too greedy to settle for simple food.

Lucky me, I have found my new-found favourite food strip. Located along Marmion Road, this stretch of cafes/bars/restaurants is apparently quite well known among the locals as the cafes are always well populated when I visited them during off-peak hours on weekdays.

In this post, I will be featuring Blend Café & Pizza Bar. Blend serves breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week. My favourite part about Blend is that they serve breakfast until 2pm!  Needless to say, this is a blog post featuring brunch.

Open kitchen to observe the chefs at work.

When you enter from the entrance, you will feel like you are in a café. Once you pass the walls that separate the two dining areas, you will feel like you entered a kitschy restaurant with an open kitchen.  Personally, I prefer the area with the open kitchen because the colouring of the area is more vibrant and I enjoyed seeing the chefs at work,

Kitschy decoration and long communal tables.

I knew I was going to order "Fancy Funghi" the moment I laid eyes upon the menu.  There is something about magic words such as grilled field mushrooms, chorizo and poached eggs that I zoomed in on the dish without hesitation.

Cafe Latte ($3.70)

My latte was decent and I have had better.

Fancy Funghi: Grilled field mushroom, chorizo sausage, poached eggs, parmesan cheese, fresh spinach, ciabatta  ($18)

The dish arrived looking put together in a haphazard way. The spinach took centre stage as it literally covered everything except the poached eggs.  After some digging and artful placement of the wilted spinach, I managed to get some decent shots of the dish showcasing the grilled field mushroom, chorizo and parmesan.

The flavours were simple, good and well put together.  My only complaint is there were too much spinach and too little grilled field mushrooms and chorizo!  I had to ration my mushrooms and chorizos so that I had enough "flavourful" ingredients to go with the ciabatta and spinach.  At $18, I expect a bit more than just a few slivers of mushrooms and chorizos.  Otherwise, it was an enjoyable dish and I loved the runny yolk that oozed from my poached eggs. 

All in all, I like the place and I'm sure I will be back sometime to check out their other offerings.  If you are after a kitschy vibe in a neighbourhood area, Blend is the place to go. They also have a coffee special going on Tuesdays between 7am-5pm. Be sure to check out the small notice at the cashier to find out what the coffee special is.

Blend Cafe & Pizza Bar
Opening Hours: 7am- late (7 days a week)
Address: 365 Marmion St, Melville, WA.
Telephone: (08) 9317 4400
Blend Cafe on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Gordon St Garage: Great Ambience with Decent Food

Gordon St Garage
Someone once asked me what I thought of Gordon St Garage. Unthinkingly, I said it was okay. When further pressed on whether I would return, I replied that I have returned. To my friend's surprise, she asked why; was the food good?

It got me thinking about how I felt about Gordon St Garage...

At first glance, Gordon St Garage reminds me of a Melbourne institute: The Commercial Bakery. Both are housed in garages and Gordon St Garage is simply a garage on Gordon St. The name is simple enough to remember but it relies heavily on being at Gordon St. Can you imagine if the restaurant has to relocate and is no longer at Gordon St?

The tall ceilings allow plenty of natural light into the place while the place is decorated simply with an industrial canteen feel. This gives a simple and effortless vibe that relaxes and makes one feel completely at ease- no fancy dress required.

Founded by the culinary alumni at Duende, Balthazar and Il Lido, Gordon St Garage operates as a coffee bar and kitchen which serves food from day to night.  I am a huge fan of breakfasts but both visits occurred at the godly hours of noon so this is a combination post of my first and second lunches at Gordon St Garage. The menu changes based on the freshness of the ingredients and their availabilities so the menu is kept fresh and exciting. It will pay off if you are a regular but I can also see others wanting to come in for their specific favourite dishes.

On my first visit, it was rather warm and I needed a caffeine jolt so an iced coffee was a natural choice.

Iced Coffee ($6)
The iced coffee was smooth without any acridness though it hinted at a tinge of bitterness. The ice-cream provided a nice chill and creaminess to the drink. However, the ice-cream was not smooth by itself unlike dessert quality ice-cream.

Chicken salad- coconut poached chicken, herbs and green chilli ($18)
This dish is entirely for show and tell since I did not try it. My companion's feedback was that it was decent but was nothing to rave about.

Two sliders; garage pastrami, pulled BBQ pork, and chipotle chilli salad ($18)
For a dish that has an amazing description, this failed to deliver. Firstly, the sliders were on the small side of what I've come to expect from sliders. Maybe it will satisfy a petite eater but I wasn't satisfied when I finished. On the left, there was the garage pastrami slider. The buns for the garage pastrami slider fared better because they were softer but the taste of the pastrami got lost amongst the flavour of the slaw and the watery mayonnaise. It got rather messy with liquid mayonnaise flowing. In the middle was a fennel and coriander salad. Don't ask me why it was called a chipotle chilli salad. As for the pulled BBQ pork slider, the contents were good with juicy BBQ pork and small sweet chunks of fruit (I think it was pineapple). However, the buns were crusty which made biting through the slider difficult. Also, it had a bad bun to meat ratio at about 2 or 2.5:1.

On a side note, I wish there can be more done to the burgers in Perth! Honestly, burgerology (yes, I made the word up) is an art/science. Believe it or not, there are ratios formulated for burger making!

Napoleone Pear Cider ($10)
I was parched from the dry bread and the endless talking that took place that I HAD to get something to drink. My cider of choice was pear instead of the usual apple and I noted that it was from Yarra. I thought the pear cider was light, fruity and refreshing but the ice soon watered down the taste of the light flavoured cider.

I couldn't help glancing towards the displays of sweet treats that distracted me since they greeted me on my way in.

Sweets on display on your way in.
Showcase of entremets and macarons.

Chocolate and Sour Cherry Mousse ($10)
It may seem strange but chocolate isn't usually my first choice. I was intrigued by the sour cherry component since I hardly see sour cherries used in desserts except for black forest cakes. As sour cherries are harder to get hold of, I had to try Gordon St Garage's unique dessert. The dessert composed of sweet, sour and bitter notes accompanied by the fragrances of earthy dark chocolate and tangy fruit. It was a good dessert but it did not create any fireworks for me.

On my second visit, it was for a farewell lunch so I didn't get to take many pictures except for my own food and beverage. The place was completely packed for Friday lunch with a queue forming at the entrance. As a result, service was slow and the food and drinks took a long time to arrive. On this occasion, we didn't mind the long waiting time since our group had plenty to catch up on.

Latte (~$4)
As of 14 April 2013, Gordon St Garage launched their in-house small batch specialty roasted coffee brand; "Mano a Mano" (Italian for "hand to hand"). It is all about hand sourcing single origin beans to hand making the roasts in their Probat roaster. You can tell that Gordon St Garage is serious about their coffee and I appreciate their passion for coffee. My latte was smooth, not burnt, no acrid taste and honestly, it is one of the better lattes in Perth. It is one of my pet peeves that some places seem to confuse latte with milk coffee or watery milk coffee.

Vietnamese baguette; braised pork shoulder, wombok slaw, Asian herbs and lime aioli ($16)
I have a tender spot for Vietnamese baguette or bahn mi. Basically, it is a meat-filled sandwich using Vietnamese style baguettes (more light and flaky than traditional French baguettes); various types of pork, chicken, or sardines; pate; fresh vegetables; herbs; pickled vegetables and condiments such as chilli, mayonnaise etc. This was more like a western take on a bahn mi with juicy braised pork shoulder, a mayonnaise-based slaw made from mung beans (bean sprouts), lettuce, carrots and herbs, and a light flaky baguette. It lacked the richness of the pate, mouth feel of additional protein, intense freshness from additional herbs, and the sharp flavours from pickled vegetables and chilli. As I was eating the baguette, I noticed that the bun to filling ratio favoured the bun since I felt like I was eating the bread half the time. Nevertheless, it was decent and I preferred this to the sliders I had from before.

I also liked how my Vietnamese baguette came in a "Gordon St. Garage" printed paper bag which made eating more convenient and less messy. Kudos for being thoughtful and considerate to the customers!

A special mention goes to the service at Gordon St Garage which was excellent on both visits. Even when the place was packed on my second visit, the waiter took very good care of us though he probably wished he could clone himself then! I love the concept of the place, service and coffee that while the food was decent, I can see myself returning. Will I rush to return? Probably not.

Gordon St Garage
Opening Hours: Monday - Sunday (7am to late)
Address: 16 Gordon St, West Perth, WA
Telephone: (08) 9322 8050

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Gordon St Garage on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Joe's Oriental Diner: Luxe Versions of Nonstalgic SEAsian Dishes

Joe's Oriental Diner at Hyatt Regency Perth
Located at Hyatt Regency Perth in Perth CBD, Joe's Oriental Diner serves a good mix of South East Asian (Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian/Singaporean and Chinese) dishes.

If you are from Asia, you will understand that Asian dishes typically cost a few dollars at the hawker centres or food stalls. As such, you get dishes that taste great but these dishes typically do not contain a lot of ingredients or use expensive ingredients. Doing so will keep the price point low and make it more affordable for the masses. However, you can "upgrade" your dish and ask for more ingredients at an extra cost.

Considering the its CBD location, there is no qualms about keeping the costs low since Joe's Oriental Diner is catered to the executives and well-heeled masses. Even when you benchmark the prices at Joe's Oriental Diner against the inflated prices we pay for such dishes in Perth, Joe's Oriental Diner is considerably more expensive. However, the ambience, location, quality and service make Joe's Oriental Diner a worthy dining location.

On my first visit, my dining companion and I ordered the Nasi Goreng and Pho Bo to share.

Nasi Goreng ($18): Wok Fried Rice served with Grilled Chicken and Beef Satays, and Achar
Nasi means "rice" in Bahasa Malayu (the Malay language) while Goreng means "fried". Put together, you get fried rice. While there was nothing special about this fried rice, I cannot fault this fried rice because it was a textbook fried rice- individual grains, slight wok hei ("breath of the wok") and tasty. While one will definitely balk at paying $18 for fried rice, what makes this humble rice dish so special at Joe's Oriental Diner is actually its accompaniments. The grilled chicken and beef satays were outstanding by Perth standards. (Sorry, but it's true that you can get better in Asia!) Tender well marinated meat on wooden skewers- these are your Malay-type satays. What is lacking is the peanut sauce that usually accompanies satays! As for the achar, it was piquantly sweet, sour and spicy all at the same time. Achar is something uniquely Singapore/Malaysian. In English terms, it is pickled vegetables. What makes it different from the English gherkins or pickles is that achar is spicy, sweet, sour and saliva-stimulating. It gets your salivary glands pumping and I am salivating as I type. Ahhh.... I miss my grandmother's achar...

Pho Bo ($19): Rice Noodles in Spiced Soup with Grilled Marinated Tenderloin Beef, Red Onion, Been Sprouts, Spring Onions, Coriander, Mint, Fresh Chilli and Lemon
I was surprised when this dish first arrived. The beef came in huge strips and frankly speaking, I was initially worried that the beef was overcooked. Needless to say, I was just being a worry-wart. The beef tenderloin strips were tender and had a good bite to them. This pho is different from the pho that I am accustomed to (with thin cut slices of beef instead) but I enjoyed the beef here very much. The other praiseworthy aspect of this dish is the broth. It was flavourful and full of umami that can only be achieved by using a superior stock. The broth was hot and slightly spicy which was perfect for the cold weather that day. The heat slowly built up in my mouth but the sensation was very satisfying. However, this dish's downfall was the noodles. Considering that noodles is a major component of any pho dish, it can make or break the dish. The noodles were hard and frankly speaking, I thought I was going to get indigestion from the noodles. I felt that my noodles could do with a longer cooking period and the amount of raw onions in the dish was slightly over the top.

If Joe's Oriental Diner wants to cater to the CBD lunch time crowd, perhaps they should be concerned whether the amount of raw onions, or the use of raw onions in this dish is appropriate. ***Onion breath alert!*** One suggestion is to put all the garnishing separately on the plate so that the diners can choose which and how much garnishing they want to put into their pho. I know of a few coriander and spring onion haters who will appreciate this very much.

On my second visit, my dining companion and I ordered the Malaysian Mee Goreng and Malaysian Curry Laksa to share.

Malaysian Mee Goreng ($18): Stir fried egg noodles cooked with free range chicken, tomato, onion, tofu, bean sprouts, spring onions and served with shallots.

Mee means "noodles" and Goreng means "fried". Mee Goreng is unlike your typical fried noodles because it has a sweet tomato-ey taste to it. In Singapore or Malaysia, hawkers sometimes use ketchup to flavour their mee gorengs. This mee goreng is textbook perfect and chock full of ingredients. I daresay that almost half of the dish consisted of ingredients! What striked me as queer is the use of free range chickens in a dish that focuses on the harmony of dishes and not the individuality of the ingredients. To be honest, I wouldn't have known the difference between the use of a normal and free range chicken in a mee goreng dish but for the price tag.

Malaysian Curry Laksa ($18)- Egg and rice noodles served with shrimps, chicken, fish cake, fish ball, coriander in a curry coconut cream soup.
(PS: I increased the brightness of this picture.) This dish bears a closer resemblance to Curry Mee or Curry Noodles instead of Curry Laksa. Laksa usually comes a broth that has more coconut milk and is thicker in consistency. As for Curry Noodles, the broth usually utilises more stock, less coconut milk and is runnier in consistency. Once again, the dish was packed full of ingredients and we had plenty of ingredients between the both of us. Standard tasty broth, well cooked noodles, tender chicken and plump prawns... If I had to be picky, I wasn't a fan of the fish cake and fish balls. While it is probably impossible to find hand made fish cakes and fish balls in Perth, it is not difficult to source for reasonably ones. Another bone to pick is that the dish arrived in a small but high bowl which made eating slightly difficult. If you see the picture, the bowl is brimming with all the ingredients on top. If you want to get to the noodles, you will have to dig deep to get the noodles and it's not easy, considering the brimming bowl and the ingredients on top. This dish is better served in a bigger bowl for the diner's ease.

Having said so much, what Joe's Oriental Diner lacks in the fireworks department, it makes up in the nonstalgia department. I have also visited this place more than once and found the food to be consistently good. I know I am very fussy but when you pay more to eat better food at a better place, you expect more in terms of presentation, service and quality. While it isn't cheap, prices are still affordable and the serving portion for each dish is enough for a filling one-course-lunch. Joe's Oriental Diner is also great for casual business lunches.

If you purchased the 2013 Entertainment book, you can make use of your Entertainment card for a discount off your total bill. Club Hyatt Members receive 50% off their total food bill at Joe's Oriental Diner when dining in pairs.

Joe's Oriental Diner
Lunch Hours:12 noon-2:00pm (Mon-Fri)
Dinner Hours: 6:00pm-10:00pm (Mon-Sat)
Address: Hyatt Regency Perth, 99 Adelaide Terrace, Perth, Western Australia 6000
Tel: +61 8 9225 1234

Joe's Oriental Diner on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Sweetlips: Sweet or Greasy Lips?

Seafood Box: Fish & Chips, Battered Scallops, Calamari Rings and Prawns on Skewers
 With a name like Sweetlips, one may be mistaken to think that they offer sweets rather than good ol' fish and chips. I had tried Sweetlips at the Leederville outlet before and I knew the quality was pretty good. So when a daily deal website offered vouchers for Sweetlips, the card made its appearance and the vouchers showed up in my email inbox.

Sweetlips Fremantle
It was a cold winter evening that my family and I decided to head down to Sweetlips at Fremantle to redeem our vouchers. One voucher entitled us to two sets of fish and chips, two battered scallops and prawns, three battered calamari rings and chips. It also comes with your choice of sauce to share. All that for $10- what a steal!

Sweetlips Fremantle Winter Trading Hours for 2013
When we arrived, we were promptly informed that the shop was closing as the people at Sweetlips pointed to the sign displaying their winter trading hours. "Bummer," I thought since it was 6.54pm when we arrived. However, the good people at Sweetlips offered to cook us our meal to takeaway. I won't lie, I did a little war dance there and my head.

Your choice of tartare, tomato, sweet chilli aioli, wasabi mayo or aioli.
We were handed a buzzer and we didn't have long to wait. Soon, we had four boxes of freshly fried goodies and containers of sweet chilli aioli and tartare sauce.

As we drove home (well, only Dad drove), the naughty passengers could not resist the tempting smell of fried food. My sister and I munched on the fried chips that were steaming hot. We did not ask for salt and vinegar for fear that our food will arrive home soggy so our fries were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Though the chips were a little bland without any salt or sauce, they were still good on their own!

Dad couldn't resist the smell and the sounds of us munching our chips. It is hard to resist freshly fried food! He asked for a box of food to snack on and Mum, who scolded us for impatience at first, joined in our little driving home feast.

The only box which reached home in one piece though it is a bit squashed...
My nearly chip-free box.

 When I arrived home, my box was nearly empty of its chips. It wasn't a long ride home so our food still remained hot and crispy. The batter was light and crispy, unlike the heavy sodden ones. The battered food did not ooze out with oil and the seafood was fresh though I cannot say the same for the scallops (I reckon they were frozen ones). Despite my suspicion, the scallops were plump, tender and nicely cooked. The calamari rings were tender (unlike places which serve rubber bands instead) while the crisp coating provided a nice textural contrast. The flaky and beautifully cooked fish inside the crisp and light batter also makes Sweetlips one of the better fish and chips places in town. The sauces were a tad weak compared to my memories of the sauces at Sweetlips Leederville but the sauces still complemented our food pretty well.

Though our food was good, I got a wee bit uncomfortable towards the end as my arteries started protesting. I am not accustomed to eating so much fried food so I reluctantly removed the batter around the rest of my fried fish. It might seem strange but I ended my meal with hot cups of green tea to wash down the greasiness of my fried meal and my lips felt pretty "moisturized" the entire night.

I won't be eating fish and chips for awhile but this is a meal to remember.

What do you drink in accompaniment to fish and chips? Is it strange to drink green tea after eating fish and chips?

Sweetlips Fish & Chips Fremantle
Winter Trading Hours: Monday- Thursday (9am- 7pm), Friday & Saturday (9am-8pm), Sunday (9am-7.30pm)
Address: Unit 8, 47 Mews Road, Fremantle WA 6160
Phone: (08) 94306902

Sweetlips Fish & Chips Fremantle on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Duende: All Day Breakfast till 4pm

Mushroom, polenta, salad and truffle oil
The most important meal of the day is breakfast. However, how often do we have the time to savor our breakfasts without having to worry about being late for school, work or our daily activities? Moreover, during the weekends, how often do we rise early enough to have breakfast? It is likely that we either skip breakfast, rush through breakfast even if it is just a slice of toast and cup of milk, or we simply have it as lunch aka "brunch". I belong to the type that usually have breakfast as "brunch".

I understand that half of the meaning of "brunch" lies in the word "breakfast" but places that serve brunch usually stop serving breakfast/brunch menus at 11.30am. It annoys me that I usually miss the 11.30am mark by a hairline and have to get lunch instead of brunch. Well, the good news for all late-risers and people who want brunch after 11.30am, Duende serves its breakfast menu till 4pm! If you get there past 4pm, you should really get lunch or dinner instead. No excuses then.

Exterior of Duende
Duende is located in the hip area of Leederville where trendy restaurants and cafes are gathered. Located directly across the popular Sayers (which serves breakfast till 11.30am), Duende has been touted as the other breakfast place to go to IF Sayers is too crowded. However, I beg to differ. Personally, I would make Duende my first choice. It is simply a bonus that Duende is less crowded for breakfast.

Interior with Mediterranean & Eclectic Furnishings
Duende is an interesting place. The furnishings are Mediterranean and eclectic which I like. The ceilings are high and the windows allow the natural light to flow in.


Dressed as a tapas bar by night, it is hard to rid Duende of its bar imagery. The bar is a central island whilst tables, chairs and bar stools pepper the remaining area.

It is said that "It's the taste that counts,", but it does not stop me from appreciating good presentation. The cobalt blue watering can is so apt for its purpose- to water. Not flowers but our thirst. While creativity is good, resourcefulness is rare. I like how they reused the cloth sack used to store rice to repackage it as a way of presenting utensils. Very ingenious. 

Latte ($3.80)
 What better way to start the day than with a cup of coffee to inject some much needed caffeine? I needed it for fear of dozing off in front of my companion. Jokes, there is no justifying a cup of coffee. I just wanted one. As a latte, it was a cup of milky coffee but the ratio favoured the coffee than the milk. Depending on your preference, you may prefer a milky coffee or a coffee laced with milk. They are different. Trust me. Anyhow, the coffee was smooth, unburnt, and left a trail of slight bitterness (I typically do not add sugar to my coffee). I like how the coffee did not leave an acrid and sour aftertaste.

Corn fritters, avocado, tomatoes, salad and poached egg ($14- $16- I can't remember the price)
As I eyed the menu, I mentally shortlisted a few candidates since Duende does NOT serve its famed Crab Omelette for breakfast anymore. (Yes, the Urbanspoon menu is outdated...) According to our waitress, it may make an appearance on future menus depending on the chef/management. The corn fritters made it to my shortlist though I ended up ordering something else. However, lucky for me, my companion ordered it instead! When her dish came, I eyed it longingly and being pretty lucky that day, she offered me a bite. The corn fritters were full of plump, juicy and sweet kernels that popped with the slightest force. The fritters were crispy on the outside and it went well with the creamy buttery avocado and fresh tomatoes. The tomatoes reminded me of fresh chunky salsa which cut through the creaminess of the avocado very well. It uplifted the taste so that the dish was not too rich and overwhelming. While I did not have a go at the poached egg, I can attest to its runniness (if that's a word) as the orange yolk oozed like liquid sunshine. 

Mushroom, polenta, salad and truffle oil ($15)
The corn fritters were pretty hard to beat but my case of dish envy went away when the waitress put my dish in front of me. The earthiness and alluring scent of truffle oil assailed my olfactory senses into submission. Simple as it looked, the smell was incredible. The mushrooms were meaty, flavourful, toothsome and simply delicious. There was no description for the mushrooms but I think they were the thick and meaty portobello mushrooms. The polenta cake was savoury, soft, creamy and full of flavour on its own. However, when paired with the mushrooms, the dish became the alluring temptress, seducing me to go back for more, and more, and more. Dishes that utilize oils typically become overwhelming after a few bites but here is when the salad came in handy. The salad leaves provided the much needed cut of freshness through the richness of the truffle oil and creamy polenta.

Duende impresses me with its breakfast offerings as they use simple ingredients to create big flavours. The breakfast offerings are also not your stereotypical breakfast dishes either. Will I come back again? Yes, I most definitely will. In fact, now I am intrigued by their lunch and dinner offerings since Duende has a reputation for some of the best tapas in town.

Opening Hours: Everyday 7.30am- Late
Address: 662 Newcastle Street, (cnr Carr Place), Leederville, WA 6007
Phone: (08) 9228 0123
Duende on Urbanspoon