Seacliff Beach Hotel

Today on the Dining Diaries,

We get Schnitty’s on the cheap,
We get Cider on the cheap,
We discover that when assessing food quality, value for money saves the day!

Hey Diners, today we were at the Seacliff Beach Hotel. A pub that is situated on the esplanade at Seacliff.
Anyone who’s been here can attest to the perfect location, especially in Summer when the sun and surf glisten in the background as you sip your wine or beer.

We have been to the Seacliff many times, but usually on the weekend. Today we were drawn here because of their Thursday night special – Two Schnitty’s and a cider for $30. Now that’s value!

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We walked in from the ground floor. There seems to be a stark difference between the ground and top floors. The ground floor is carpeted and devoid of atmosphere. It seems to attract an older crowd.

 

njouvipv9nnqbcmwiqmdThe top floor, even when not full of people, seems to have an entirely different vibe. Warm wood, exposed brick, noise, relaxed and a much younger clientele. There’s also a fireplace however even on this cold night, it wasn’t lit which was a little disappointing.

The top floor also has a balcony where you can take full advantage of those glorious views. There is heating out there so you can dine in comfort even during the colder months.

We noticed that a lot of diners both upstairs and down, had ordered the schnitty’s so they must be a popular draw-card.
We ordered a chicken schnitty with mushroom sauce and a beef schnitty with no sauces and took our jug of cider to the table.
You have to admit, that is amazing value for thirty dollars!

The food came out within minutes after we sat! At least, it felt that quick.

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Hubby had the chicken schnitty and he had no complaints.

 

You can’t really complain for the price.

 

He said the chicken was thick and moist and the mushroom sauce was very creamy. In fact, his exact words were that his dish was perfect!

 

He really enjoyed it

 

 

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I went for the beef schnitty and it was probably exactly as I was expecting.

The meat was a little tough however again, for the price, I’m not going to complain and I would even order that again.

It was not premium chef quality but it was perfectly acceptable for a weekday pub meal and very filling.

Interestingly enough, if you look at the two pictures of our schnitty’s you may notice that the salad on my plate was double the size of the salad on hubby’s plate.
It was kind of strange that no one noticed that and they allowed that to go to the table like that. It almost looks like someone has half eaten his.
He also had loads of dressing in his where mine had hardly any.

I have been to this place quite a few times and never been wowed but they haven’t done anything overtly wrong either.
It’s a great meeting place for locals.
I’m sure I will continue to enjoy the Seacliff whether it be Winter or Summer because there really is just something about the place that draws you.

Have you been to The Seacliff? What did you think?
Let me know in the comments below,

Till next we chow…

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The Pickled Duck

Today on the Dining Diaries,

The size of the chili and the sour cream provided actually match the amount of wedges given,
The size and layout of the restaurant make our hearts go pitter, patter and
The size of the burger make us wonder if indeed, size does matter?

the-pickled-duck-5.jpgToday the team were at The Pickled Duck.

Ever since I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve had recommendations to visit The Pickled Duck.
Today, as we found ourselves in the area we thought, why not?

It was a strange time to be eating – 3.30pm. We had both missed lunch and didn’t want to wait three hours or so for dinner but The Pickled Duck have all day dining so that was helpful!

The first thing we noticed as we walked in was how large and clean the restaurant was. High ceilings and heavy wood featured in the decor giving us a relaxed, family style restaurant feeling. Maybe something Mike Brady from the Brady Bunch would have designed.  It made us feel comfortable!
We were given menus and told to come up to the bar when we were ready to order.

The menu itself was simple and easy to understand. They mostly have burgers, pizza’s and a few salads as well. They also had desserts on the menu, including dessert pizzas!

From what I had heard, burgers were the specialty so I was eager to try one. Hubby decided to go for some sliders so that he could get a good idea of what a few different burgers would taste like. I think the slider option is a great one for exactly that reason and on this menu you were able to order as many as you want, starting from just one which is great if you have someone with a small appetite in your party.

The restaurant is next to a bottle shop and they have a joining door which could prove to be handy. They encourage their diners to take advantage of the wine cellar where they showcase a fine collection of Australian and world renowned wines. They also have a unique selection of craft beers from some of the finest South Australian microbreweries.
I did think there were lots of great options on the wine menu and ordered one of my favourites.

I did feel a little disappointed when the meals came out. In retrospect, they were very filling and I’m sure the size would be big enough for the average diner but my first impression was that it was a little small.
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I ordered the Swiss Beef Burger.
Beef, sautéed swiss mushrooms, caramelised onions, rocket, gorgonzola cheese sauce.

It was such a tasty little package!! The meat was just gorgeously seasoned and the caramelised onions.. mmmm is there a more perfect combination? They weren’t stingy on the muchrooms either and together, it was really a delight to eat. Hubby was both amused and horrified as he watched me trying to eat this with sauces dripping down my fingers and smeared on my face. But that’s got to tell you that what you’re eating is good right??

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He made a really good choice ordering the four sliders.

BEEF SLIDER- smoky BBQ onion jam
PORK SLIDER- asian slaw, baja sauce
DUCK SLIDER- pickled green onion, carrot slaw
CHICKEN SLIDER -smashed avocado, rocket

He started off with the pork slider. He said he found it a little dry but it was still very good and tasty.
The next one he tried was the beef slider and that was such a brilliant explosion of taste in his mouth that he decided to keep that one till last. He loved the bbq sauce – He said it reminded him of bbq ribs.
His third slider was the chicken slider. He said that was delicious also and was smothered in mayonnaise.
Last of all was the duck slider. We had forgotten that was one of the options and as we don’t often eat duck, were interested in how it would taste. Hubby said it was nice but not his favourite. I’m not into pickled onions in my burgers so I don’t think I would have liked this one myself.

FullSizeRender (35)We also ordered some wedges and I’m just mentioning them as surprisingly, we even had a little sour cream and chili left over after the wedges were gone… That never happens!!

I liked that the server came to check on us to make sure everything was as we’d ordered. I had told him that I’d heard good things about this place and he said must have been because of his great service which I thought was a good response!

All in all we had a nice time at The Pickled Duck. The food is definitely above average and you can tell they really care about what they’re going to present you.
Definitely a recommend from me!

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

Till next we chow…

Villa Romana – Cairns

Today on The Dining Diaries,

A bruschetta dish suffers an identify crisis while bacon plays hide and seek (and wins)
Pizza dough so light we barely thought about the calories and,
A restaurant so noisy and bustling, we were spared having to make polite conversation.

photo-4.jpgThe Spoon You Fork Me team were in Cairns back in February and Villa Romana was a place we had walked past at least once a day.
We always intended to try it out but it just never worked out that way.

Four months later and we were back in Cairns and this time, we were going to stop in!
This place seems to be perpetually full of people and it was no different tonight with a triathlon on this weekend. Every restaurant in Cairns was exceptionally busy and so was Villa Romana.

When hubby and I walked by, there were no tables available and our host gave us the option of waiting at the bar but we decided to come back later.

Thirty minutes later and this three hundred plus seat restaurant was still completely full but we decided to wait and it wasn’t too long before we were shown to a table.
The menu was typically Italian although I did spot an interesting salad I wanted to try.

We ordered the Capricciosa Pizza, a Bruschetta and Insalata di Spinaci which was a salad of baby spinach, sliced apple, roasted walnuts, crispy bacon and zesty lemon dressing.

Surprisingly, although the restaurant was full, food was coming out quite quickly.

The table behind us ordered a calzone and it looked enormous as it was brought to the table. When it was cut into, it soon deflated however I could still see lots of cheese and filling in there.
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Our food came and I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed when I saw my bruschetta.
It was on pizza dough.

The menu didn’t say it would be on pizza dough.
I was expecting it on toasted continental bread.
If I’d wanted a pizza, I would have ordered one!

The only difference between hubby’s pizza and my bruschetta were the shape and the toppings…

However, the dough was SOOOO fresh and light. They have wood ovens at Villa Romano and you can taste that wood oven taste in their pizza’s. Smoky, crisp and delicately light, topped with quality toppings.

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This place knows how to do pizza!
My bruschetta was good. I got over the disappointment of how it was made. I really love basil pesto and that was prominent on this bruschetta however in places it was heavily salted and that was a bit disappointing too.

IMG_6379The salad was exceptional and definitely my favourite. Such a wonderful combination of foods!!
I had to read the menu again though as I was sure it had said crispy bacon but I couldn’t taste any. It was either so subtle I couldn’t taste it, or not in there at all.

I’m not a bacon lover though so it didn’t disappoint me that there was potentially no bacon. I really loved this salad. The spinach was fresh, the walnuts were crunchy and the apple brought a delicious sweetness. Everything worked so well together.

Hubby had no complaints about his pizza. I tried a bit and yes, his dough was definitely the same taste as mine.

FullSizeRender (34)All in all we had a nice time here. It was good to be in a busy, bustling place but it was hard if you wanted to actually have a conversation because it was just soooo noisy! I’d hate to be here on a first date.

Hubby and I ended up people watching and communicating the way most people who have been together many years do, with minimal conversation.
Next time we’re in Cairns I want to try their breakfast buffet as that has caught my eye once or twice in the past!

Have you been to Villa Romano’s?

What did you think?

Let me know in the comments below!
Till next we chow…

Hogs BreathCafe – Cairns

CairnsToday on the Dining Diaries..

An old favourite is revisited,
Wait staff serve their customers with permanent smiles on their faces and
we leave our mark on the walls!

0508894ade6cbccaa72f9095b1d05b1d.jpgToday the Spoon You Fork Me team are at Hogs Breath Cafe in Cairns.
While most of Australia is suffering through horrendous Winter weather, Cairns is basking in sunshine. I feel like I don’t want to leave this place!!

You may remember we reviewed Hogs Breath Cafe once before but that was the restaurant at Glenelg. I was interested to see if our experience would be any different.

Once again, as we enter we just feel happy. There’s something about that place that makes you expect to have a good time.
A gentlman greeted us at the door and gave us some pleasant small talk, took us to a table and told us someone would be along shortly.
Within a minute a waitress came smiling from ear to ear like she was our best friend. It’s not a criticism, it’s a good thing. It makes you feel like you’re in a place people want to be.
In fact I watched the wait and kitchen staff and they all seemed happy to be doing their jobs even when out of sight of diners.

FullSizeRender (33)I love the atmosphere in this place and the way it’s decorated which seems to be the same Australia wide. Although I took these pictures in relatively empty corners of the restaurant, there were quite a few people in there all having a nice relaxing time.

The inital gentleman who greeted us and the waitress both asked if we’d dined their before making sure we knew what food they offered and how to order.
Our waitress then told us about the special – Steak parmigiana with grilled capsicum and mozzarella cheese on top. That sounded yummy to hubby so he ordered that one. I went for an old favourite that I haven’t had for a while, grilled steak sandwich.

While waiting for the food, I looked around trying to see other people’s food, and another waitress, not the one serving our table, came up to me thinking I was wanting help or wanting to order something else or ask another question. It was things like that that really elevated our experience here.

FullSizeRender (32)My steak sandwich came with sweet potato wedges. I know these are the in things right now but I just find they don’t crisp up like potato wedges do. Still, they tasted nice once I added a bit more salt. The grilled steak sandwich was superb!!
In my experience, some places try to add too many sauces to this type of  meal making it almost impossible to eat without getting it all down your hands. This sandwich had just the perfect amount and the steak was gloriously tender and thick. I don’t know if it’s because I haven’t had this type of food for a while but I was super impressed!

FullSizeRender (31)Hubby was happy with his too. I was curious to know what the grilled capsicum was like on top as I don’t normally associate that with a parmigiana but he said it was really tasty and went well. He said his meat was cooked and seasoned well. I tried some of his veggies and there was just no salt on them. They were just plain boiled veggies.
I know you can’t presume to know how much salt to put on veggies but no salt and no seasoning?  Makes me wonder why bother to have them at all! But that’s only a very small criticism as we enjoyed our meal here and felt pretty full when we walked out!

I also loved how the waitress came to check how our meals were a few minutes after we’d got them. That doesn’t happen as much as it should and sometimes things aren’t quite right and I don’t like to make a scene so I don’t say anything. If someone were to ask me however, I might have the courage to mention it and I liked that we were asked and the waitress was not just expecting a stock answer but genuinely wanting to make sure all was ok.

Hogs Breath Cairns is not really in an area frequented by a lot of foot traffic which is shame. I’m sure they do get their fair share of customers but if you ever do find yourself in Cairns, I would recommend a ten minute walk from the Esplanade to visit Hogs Breath.

Have you been here?
What was your experience?
Let me know in the comments below…

Till next we chow…

Turning Japanese – Part Twelve

Today is our last day in this gloriously complex  land.

After a breakfast of coffee, we took a train into the downtown area and after walking past a million restaurants, chose one to go into.
Now up till now, we’ve been hesitant to go into the ones where a bench encircles the kitchen and you sit there and eat. Similar to a bar. You’re all facing to cooks.

Today we did it though. We walked in, ordered from the machine and sat at that counter. A man came and took our tickets and gave us some water.

I think we ordered some kind of beef bowl but I’m not sure.

The meat was ok, the rice was delish!! I wish I knew what sauce was in there because it was really tasty.

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So we ate our food with chopsticks even though there was a spoon option and we were in full view of other diners. Just like locals!

Hubby says if we hadn’t had the comfort of the food court we would have graduated sooner.

Now we’re at the airport waiting to leave. This has really been an amazing experience.

I’ve found Japanese food to be different than I expected. Some I loved, some I could do without (nobody say octopus ever again please!!!).

The people here have impressed me so much. So kind and polite.

I hope they don’t get influenced negatively by our Western ways.

Thank you for sharing this experience with us.

Stay tuned for regular Dining Diaries entries starting again soon!

Till next we chow…