Stella

stellaToday on the Dining Diaries…

A waiter needed to be held down so we could give him our full order,
We dined in a restaurant where the median age was 94 and…
Graceful piano music played, whisking us into the fantasy of rich, elegant indulgence.

It was a wintry day here in Adelaide but we put on our big people pants, our heavy jackets and went along to Stella’s restaurant, located at Henley Beach.
As you can see from the photo, it’s a lovely location in Summer. Today, while the view was still lovely, it was a little more bleak than the photo above suggests.

It was nice and warm when we entered the restaurant and one of the things I couldn’t help noticing is that hubby and I, middle aged as we are, were the youngest in there.
FullSizeRender (29)We sat at a table that gave us nice views of Henley Jetty and looked over the menu. Lots of the usual favourites on there.

I kept being drawn to the pasta dishes and eventually settled for the pappardelle with veal and mushroom ragu. Even though I had only just had this dish recently, I was drawn to it again if only just to compare this version to what I’d eaten at Salsa’s.
When the waiter came, I asked him if the pasta was made in house. He squirmed and looked apologetic so I knew the answer before he replied. It didn’t phase me too much, I just wanted to know what I was in for before ordering.

He seemed very busy and we noticed he was the only person attending to all the tables. In fact he was so busy, we almost didn’t get our complete order in and I was practically calling out “and the arancini!” as he was leaving our table.

Arancini for entree to share, pappardelle with veal and mushroom ragu for me, and hubby went with a personal favourite of his, pork belly.

As always we looked at the other food coming out and it all looked beautifully presented so we were excited to see what we were going to be getting.
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It wasn’t long before our Arancini came out.

I’m not sure exactly what the texture of arancini are supposed to be like. I know the rice and cheese can make them quite stodgy and these were a little but is it supposed to be like that?

They tasted good albeit a little salty but that’s a personal preference.

The outer was warm and crispy and the cheese inside was beautifully melted.

On a side note, as we were sharing I was happy that they had given us four on the plate!

I think if one person had ordered that as an entree to eat alone, they would have found it quite rich. I’m not sure I could have eaten more than two but what I did eat, I enjoyed.

FullSizeRender (28)Our mains came out quite soon after.
I’ve made it known that I love my pasta and although this was not pasta made in house, it was cooked well and I appreciated that.

The veal was tender and the mushroom was just divine, making this a very nice dish to eat.

I wasn’t expecting a cream sauce and wish I’d known that before I’d ordered as I probably wouldn’t have ordered it.

The only slight criticism is that I would have liked a smidgen more salt in the sauce.

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Hubby was very pleased with his pork belly.

I always know when he’s enjoying a dish as he gets quiet. There was no crackling with his pork though and the one other thing he was disappointed with is that his veggies were cold. He would have liked some good old wintry weather sides like hot mash or roast pumpkin.

I loved the way it looked on the plate, very colourful and pretty.

The meat was tasty, tender and well seasoned.

All in all we were not disappointed with our visit to Stella. The food was good, the atmosphere was lovely (if you like piano music) and the views of that jetty are just lovely in any weather.

The one thing that would have changed this experience to just above average to sensational would have been if the wait staff had been a little more personal and not looked like they were just doing jobs that they didn’t really like. It just felt like they were going through the motions. It wasn’t bad service, just not personal.
Please don’t let me dissuade you from going there though as we did enjoy what we had!

Have you eaten at Stellas?
What did you think?
Let me know in the comments below!

 

Till next we chow…

 

Cafe Salsa

Today on The Dining Diaries,

We encounter a waitress who makes it her mission to make sure we are kept at a perfect temperature,
We are served pasta that is so full of love, it refuses to let go of each other and clumps together on the plate and
We discover a restaurant that seems to be suffering from a multiple personality disorder.
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Cafe Salsa is an interesting place at West Beach. In fact, I would say that most Adelaidiens are familiar with the iconic building on West Beach Road.

Walking in, I really didn’t know what to expect. I mean, the place is called “Salsa”. That makes you think Mexican doesn’t it? Latin American? I know that it’s also an Italian word however most people would immediately make a Latin American connection. The music that was playing was definitely of the Latin variety and if I hadn’t already seen the menu online, I would have been definitely expecting a Mexican or Spanish menu.

Upon entering the restaurant, I found my senses needing to adjust once again. We had just walked into a place with a retro sixties look.

Old movie posters on the walls, linoleum tiles on the floor and an inactive jukebox behind the waiters station.

Having said that, our waitress was lovely and friendly and as mentioned, was very concerned that we were not too hot or not too cold and kept coming back to check that our area was temperature comfortable.

The menu we were given showed this restaurant was decidedly Italian. I LOVE pasta so I was happy about that but it didn’t feel like we were in an Italian restaurant.

We started off with Scacchiata Paesana – Freshly baked pizza bread topped with prosciutto, fresh rocket and shaved parmesan

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                                                                    Scacchiata Paesana

This was a wonderful surprise when we came. Hubby and I had expected to receive a pizza base with a drizzle of oil and perhaps a few slices of prosciutto. What we got was so much more!
The base was light and crispy crunchy. The prosciutto was salty and flavoursome and the rocket was the balancer in between.
It really was much bigger than we expected and thankfully there weren’t too many people in the restaurant at that time as we devoured that thing!

For our mains, we chose the Papardelle Ragu – Pasta ribbons pan tossed in a rich beef ragu and the Scotch Fillet with spinach and sweet potato mash

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                                                                  Papardelle Ragu
Now one of the most exciting things about this menu to me, was that the pasta was all home made so I was really looking forward to this dish.
I LOVE pasta and can eat it almost anyway but this was not exactly what I was expecting. I thought the pasta hadn’t been cooked well. A lot of pieces were clumped together making it hard and stodgy. The pieces that were free were actually very pleasant to eat but there were far too many clumps in there and if I had served that to someone, I’d be terribly embarrassed.  The ragu part was done very well though. The meat was soooo tender and fell away effortlessly. In fact I thought there was a generous amount of meat in that ragu. The sauce was rich in flavour and they topped it all with my favourite herb, basil. I was wanting a piece of bread to mop up the rest of the sauce when I was done!
Because I love pasta, I still enjoyed this dish but it really could have been so much better

 

Hubby had a similar experience with his Scotch Fillet. This dish was well seasoned, colourful and very inviting.

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Scotch Fillet

He ate the first few pieces with his eyes closed, savouring every bite however when he got to the middle, he found gristle upon gristle and that was a little disappointing for him. The steak had a lovely flavour though and even the Sweet Potato Mash had a peppery taste.

So while hubby didn’t hate his dish, the gristle was a huge let down.

I wouldn’t say we had a bad time here, in fact I think this place has a lot of potential but I think it really needs to find itself. Decide what it wants to be and go for that, instead of trying to incorporate too many cultures.
The food was good but not great however with a bit more care, I think it could be exceptional. They’re really not that far off the mark.

 

Have you been to Cafe Salsa?
What did you think?

Let me know in the comments below!

Till next we chow…

 

Le Riad

neo_img_imgp5747.jpgToday on the Dining Diaries…

Carpet and guns on the walls,
America Ferrera is now waiting tables and
Food that has us saying “we’re coming back” just after a couple of bites.

A “riad” is a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard.

Le Riad is a place that’s almost hidden even though it’s situated on a main road and right by a very popular pub/restaurant. This place had been recommended to me by someone I trust so I was eager to try the food.
They advertise as having real Moroccan cuisine and when I looked at the menu on line, I knew I was going to have trouble ordering as everything sounded good and new (to me)

I wondered if I should even make a booking but when we got there I was glad we did as there was only one table available and that was for us. The place was packed!

The first thing we noticed was the deadened sound. In other places we go to, due to modern decor, every clang and chink is amplified as sound bounces off every surface but at Le Riad, the carpet on the floor and the rugs on the wall deaden it all.
It had me feeling a little unsettled at first!
The next thing we noticed were the guns on the wall. Although this unnerved us a little too, there was still something homey and comfortable about the place. We couldn’t put our finger on it just then but later we noticed that there were both families and couples dining and not one person (bar me) had their phone out! Can you imagine that? In a crowded albeit small restaurant, no one was playing with their phone.
I felt like I’d been picked up and thrown into another time and country.

It was also very red and very dark in there. I tried to take some photos but they were all poor quality, as with pictures of the food I took, there just wasn’t enough light.
Having said that, if your aim is to have a nice romantic dinner and you have no need to photograph your food, then you are in for a treat.

We looked through the menu and on each page I changed my mind about what I was going to eat. Everything seemed so exciting to me! Lots of authentic dishes to choose from.
I ended up ordering the Goat Tajine – Goat and mixed vegetables gently cooked with a mix of Moroccan herbs and spices.
Hubby ordered the Mixed Grill – Lamb, chicken, kefta, merguez sausage, served with hummus and bread.
And just because we wanted to sample more, we ordered Lamb Couscous – A traditional Moroccan dish.Couscous is steamed over spiced lamb and vegetables
I also desperately wanted to try some of the Moroccan bread they had on the menu but sadly they were out.

Our waitress was so lovely, friendly and accommodating and bore a striking resemblance to America Ferrara.

We arrived at the restaurant just before 7.30pm. At 8.18pm I noticed that our food hadn’t arrived yet. In any other place I would have noticed this a lot sooner but there is a lot to take in on your first visit to Le Riad.
You can only see so many dishes of hot steaming food going out to other tables before food envy sets in.
At 8.23 and tummies are really gurgling now… but let me add, we were happy. We weren’t grumpy, we were just more excited to try what we had ordered.
8.26 and America Ferrara look alike comes and sincerely apologises for the wait and offers us free drinks. Now how lovely is that! We hadn’t complained, we were sitting there smiling and talking, yet she still came over with this lovely gesture! Double ticks for that!

Ten or so minutes later our food came. I just love it when the first thing you notice about your food is the smell! It was heavenly and not like anything I had smelt before so it’s a little hard for me to describe. I don’t know what traditional Moroccan spices are.
It was definitely hearty and rich and just what you’d want on a fresh Autumn night.

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Goat Tajine

 

My Goat Tajine was exquisite.

Again, I have to apologise for the picture quality as it was really very dark in there.

Hopefully you can imagine how wonderful this dish was. Rich with flavour and colourful it was very very inviting to eat. I felt like I’d been transported to deliciousness heaven.
The goat was amazingly tender and I had to wonder why we don’t eat this meat more often.

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Mixed Grill

 

Hubby, being a meat lover, ordered the mixed grill and he wasn’t disappointed either.

A nice sized dish with lovely elements. The meat and bread had a charred smokey taste
The hummus was fresh and lovely when eaten with that crispy bread.

.There really wasn’t anything we didn’t like!

 

 

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Lamb Couscous

Lastly we sampled our Lamb Couscous. I must admit, I found it hard to find pieces of lamb but even so, it was equally delicious. The cous cous was light and springy and I loved the burst of coriander I tasted every now and then. I wondered later if I had ordered a chicken cous cous, if it would have given me a different flavour throughout as I didn’t think the lamb taste was particularly strong however still a very enjoyable dish.

All in all we loved our time at Le Riad. The restaurant is comfortable, the wait staff are lovely and I’m pretty sure this is a family run business. They genuinely want you to have a good time and to love the food as much as they do.

On Saturday’s they also have a belly dancer come in and do some belly dancing. It’s a shame we didn’t go on a Saturday! That would have been a treat!

I’m eager to go back and try some more items from the menu.

Have you been to Le Riad?
What did you think?
Let me know in the comments below!!

Till next we chow…

The Colonist

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Today on The Dining Diaries,

Goldilocks and her bear find out that the nachos are too small, the Calamari is too boring and the Jungle Goat Curry is juuuuuuust right.

 

Saying the Calamari was a little boring is probably a bit harsh but we’ll get to that in a little bit!

The team lunched at The Colonist today.
We walked in through the entrance off the car park and found ourselves in a cramped unlevel and narrow hallway. I think we passed bathrooms and the kitchen but I didn’t look, I just kept walking as it didn’t feel like a pleasant place to be.

We looked into the restaurant and there wasn’t a single table being used. It looked like a lonely spinster, dressed up in old fashioned clothing waiting for her prince to come…
So instead of dining in the restaurant, we went to the front bar where there was people and music and just was a more happening area.
IMG_5727In fact, for all my negative comments so far, I felt really comfortable in the front bar.
It was casual, colourful and being served by friendly staff.

We took some menus and settled ourselves at a table with views outside. Being a lovely Autumn day, the tables outside were also being used and I got the impression that this is a very popular place so was excited to see what the food was going to be like.

The menu was wide and varied from pub favourites to chef’s specialties.
I’d been feeling like nacho’s for a while so we ordered some of those to share.
I also ordered the Jungle Goat Curry – A rustic curry with pieces of goat on + off the bone stirred through a mild tomato base sauce with Indian aromatics, green beans & potato served with basmati, chutney + cumin pappadams.
Hubby ordered Sea Salt ‘n’ Pepper Squid squid dusted through flour, seasoned with sea salt + kibbled pepper served with a sweet chilli, sesame & ginger dipping sauce, chips + slaw.

IMG_5728There’s no other way to say it, but I was disappointed when the the nacho’s came out. I wanted to cry. They were teeny tiny and I don’t mean teeny tiny for us, they would have been teeny tiny for anyone.

There was a tablespoon or so of refried beans on the bottom of the bowl, twelve chips around that, a dob of cheese and salsa on the top (You can barely see the cheese in the pic) and a tablespoon of sour cream and guacamole on top.
This has not satisfied my nacho craving.

What we did eat was nice but really, you can’t go too wrong with nachos, I just needed more.
This plate was $14 and while I don’t always mention the price in this blog, I do think it was significant as that is just way too much for twelve chips on a plate. We’re not in some fine dining restaurant, we’re in a pub and how much more would it cost them to put double the amount of chips on there for the same price? I don’t think that would eat into their profits and it would make you feel like you actually got something for your money.

The smiling friendly waitress came up to us a few minutes late when the plate was almost  empty and asked if we wanted a bit of a break before our mains came. I’m sure I had a look of incredulity on my face and just said no, please, bring them on out when they’re ready. I wanted to add “still starving” but I didn’t.
She took that plate while I was still eating the last bit. That’s another pet peeve of mine. I know they’re busy but please, just give me sixty seconds more … can’t they just wait until you’ve pushed the plate away before coming in and clearing it all up.

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When the mains came I was a little happier. My Jungle goat curry smelt delicious! I’m pretty sure I’ve not had goat before. I just wanted to take in the smell before I tucked into it. I could smell the wonderful aromatic Indian spices throughout. I’m not quite sure what “Jungle” goat is. Do we have jungles in Australia? Even so, it tasted delicious.

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There was a nice little punch of heat in the curry. I don’t normally like a lot of heat but this was just enough to warm the mouth without taking away the taste.

The goat tasted like a secondary cut of meat that had been cooking for a few hours. It was delicate and tender and really very delicious.

I got a nice little surprise when I tasted the rice as it had been cooked in coconut milk and when I had it with the curry it was just a perfect pairing. This dish made up for the nachos!
I also loved the coriander on top.

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Hubby had no complaints about his Calamari.

It was a good serve and the thing he loved the most about it was the sweet chilli, sesame & ginger dipping sauce.

He said it was delicious and a nice change from the usual tartar sauce you get with anything sea food related.

I can’t help but feel that I ordered better than him today! He enjoyed his meal and I guess if that’s what you want, then that’s what you should have but mine was definitely more special.

 

So bottom line, we didn’t have a terrible experience here but I don’t understand why they would charge restaurant prices for pub grub. Even though it was comfortable and the food tasted good, I felt like it was over priced and that alone would probably stop me from coming here again.

I do want to emphasise though, that the food was good and the wait staff were friendly. I don’t have any major complaints, as always, these were just my observations on the day.

 

Have you been to the Colonist?
What did you think?
Let me know in the comments below!

Till next we chow…

Campania Sports & Social Club

FullSizeRender (12)Today’s review is something a little bit different.

I was invited to my grandfather’s ninetieth birthday at the Campania Sports & Social Club so I thought, while I was there, I would review this type of establishment.

While the Campania Club caters for people coming off the street, it’s location is a bit out of the way and the tables are all large (to accommodate groups) making it perfect for large gatherings rather than casual dining.

We were first to arrive and the hall was still fairly sparse which made it look even bigger than it already is. I’m not sure how many people  it sits, but our group had seven round tables of ten and we were barely a quarter of the room.
I think it’s actually the perfect spot for large gatherings.
There’s a play area for children to keep them entertained while giving the parents a bit of a break, and there’s a large screen TV which may be antisocial, but I love… especially as the footy was on the night we were there.

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The staff were very accommodating to our large group and some family members had been in earlier to pretty up the tables a little and have things ready for our celebrations.

As some of us hadn’t seen each other for a while, we were still standing around up to an hour after we’d arrived. I think this caused a bit of frustration for the staff who were waiting for us to order but they were still very patient.

The food selection was a little limited but then again, this is not a pub or restaurant.

Your selection was either pizza, pasta or parmigiana.

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Napolitana Pizza

The pizza selections were fairly simple but then, this is how I like them.

Good quality dough with fresh toppings and that gorgeous sweet tomato sauce is enough for me.

I ordered two pizza’s to share between the three of us.
We chose the napolitana  pizza and the potato pizza.
My brother, who was sitting next to me, chose the pizza with the lot.

 

 

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Potato Pizza

The place was packed and even so, we didn’t have to wait long for our pizza’s to arrive.

I tried a piece of the Napolitana Pizza first.
I loved the base. Spongy dough with a crusty  base with a bit of charring which gave the pizza a lovely smokey taste.

The tomato sauce had beautiful flavours throughout.

I like my pizza’s simple. This is the way they’re made in Italy and it’s exactly how I love my pizza.

Simple with a good quality, fresh tomato sauce and that perfect crust. It really was a delight to eat.

I’d never had a potato pizza before and was a little unsure about putting potato on a pizza. However after trying this one, I have to say it was pretty good. The potato was hard enough to enjoy the texture but soft enough to know it had been cooked. I’m not sure I’d order it again myself, but I didn’t mind what I had. The only negative I would say is that it probably needed a bit more seasoning because potato on its own can be a bit bland. Again the base was just perfect.

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Campania with the lot

 

The Campania with the lot was probably the pizza that would have featured the most toppings but you can see from the picture that most people would think there’s still not enough toppings on there.

 

I would have to disagree as what I love most about pizza is the base especially when that base is cooked well, and these really were.

 

 

 

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As mentioned, apart from the pizza’s they can also do a few simple pasta dishes and I even saw Parmigiana on the menu, but I didn’t see anyone having that. It would be safe to say that a good portion of the people eating in the club that night were having pizza’s.

 

I did see someone at our table having a pasta dish and it kind of made me wish I’d ordered that because I love a simple pasta dish and if the sauce on the pizza was anything to go by, I can only just imagine how it would have been on the pasta. Their one complaint was that there should have been more sauce!

All in all we had a really good night and I if you’re planning on hosting an informal gathering for a group, and love authentic, home cooked style Italian food, I would recommend the Campania Club.
The staff really were so very lovely and patient with our group and did what they could to make the night and easy and special one for us.

 

Have you eaten at the Campania Club? What was your experience?

Let me know in the comments below.

Till next we chow…