Cafe Astros

Today on The Dining Diaries,

Staff who anticipate our every thought.
Serves to make us shout “Opa!” and
Dessert good enough to leave room for.

Exterior.jpgDiners today we dined at Cafe Astros

I really didn’t know this place existed. Tucked away on Sussex St. in Hawthorn, I’ve probably even driven past this Greek restaurant many times and have never noticed it.

Hubby emailed me the menu during the day and all I’d been craving was a good Moussaka.I was so in!

FullSizeRenderIt’s not a large place. The tiled pattern lino floor almost made me want to turn back but we didn’t and I’m glad because most of what we had here was exceptional.
A waiter guided us to the warmest seat in the place (It was bitterly cold tonight!!) and took our drink orders.
Not sure if he was an owner but he really seemed invested in wanting us to have a good time. I watched him with other diners throughout the night, always attentive, always a step ahead and wanting to please without being intrusive. It made you feel special and welcome.
Although the decor could use a lot of sprucing up, it was clean and comfortable.

It was cold, and we were very hungry so we ordered an entree to start off with.

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Wagyu Beef Meatballs served with salsa & pita

We were so hungry that we had actually started eating before I took this photo.

The first thing I tried was the salsa and it was so divine. Sweet and flavoursome.

In fact I loved that even more than the meatballs themselves.

I could have had a plate of that with some crusty continental bread but I digress!

That plate did what an entree should do – make you excited for the food to come!

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Moussaka

I ordered the Home Made Moussaka served with salad.

Again the first thing I noticed was how fresh everything looked! I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a more inviting salad!
The moussaka was not exactly what I was expecting. It was nice, but I think I would have prefered more bechemel and I couldn’t really taste a lot of eggplant even though I could see it was in there. It wasn’t unpleasant, I liked what I had, it just wasn’t how I imagined it would be. I would like to have been there with someone who regularly eats this dish to see what they would have thought.
On such a cold night though, it definitely did the job of warming my insides!

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Souvlaki

Hubby ordered the Mixed Souvlaki  – choice of 2, either lamb, chicken or prawn, chargrilled and served with chips, salad, tzatziki & pita

He ordered one lamb and one chicken. Again, everything looked fabulously fresh on the plate. Even the chips had been fried in fresh oil.
He went straight for the lamb first and it was just so delicious. Miraculously he shared a bit with me so I can attest to that! Char-grilling gives such a wonderful flavour.

We were sitting in front of the fridges that staged the desserts so it was inevitable that we would have some. They just looked too good!

Blueberry cheesecake and baklava. Both large serves and very reasonably priced.
The cheesecake seemed wonderfully rich. I only had a little spoonful. Not sure I could have eaten the entire slice but hubby devoured it like he’d never seen food before.
Normally you think of a Baklava as being rich but this one wasn’t overly so. It was drenched in that honey water and tasted beautiful but it wasn’t sickening. There was a strong nut taste inside that stayed with me all the drive home.

I almost forgot to mention that they  have $0 corkage on BYO bottles of wine on Tuesday and Wednesday all day. I can’t remember the last time I saw that!

I’m really glad we made it to Cafe Astros and I hope this review encourages some of you to visit it also.

Have you been to Cafe Astros?
What did you think?
Let me know int he comments below.

 

Till next we chow…

Lockleys Hotel

Today on the Dining Diaries…

A stake steak right to hubby’s heart
A diner gets as fresh as the salad bar and..
I find out what lamb florentine is and marvel at this gastronomic brilliance!

lockleys-hotel-3494-1Today we are at the Lockelys Hotel.

Hubby and I were a little hesitant in coming here because we had the impression it was a dive.
In fact he said to me “We don’t have to stay there. If we get there and don’t like it we’ll leave”

But we didn’t have to leave and I’m glad. It ended up being one of our best dining experiences.

We had to wait for dinner service to start because again, we’d missed lunch and were ravenously hungry at 5pm.
We took ourselves into the Sports Bar to wait. It was very busy and loud and noticeably, I was the only woman in there.
The bar staff were lovely and the fireplace was heavenly!

We went over to the Bistro area when dinner service started and hubby was in heaven because unexpectedly, there was a  salad bar there and he’s just so enamored with them at the moment.
We were sat close to where diners were coming in and it soon became apparent that a lot of them were regulars. There was good banter between servers and customers and in fact, one cheeky old fella was chatting up a pretty young girl while his wife was standing next to him!
But it was all in fun.

The menu was simple but good. As I walked up to the counter to order I still didn’t know what I was going to have. Hubby went for the 400g Portherhouse Steak.
At the counter I noticed the specials board and I ordered the Lamb Florentine without really knowing what Florentine was… in fact, not knowing at all – no inkling – nothing.
I’m not normally that adventurous.

We watched other food coming out and it all looked sooooo delicious!!! So many people were ordering the sliders. The servings looked large and were just mouth watering.
While we waited for ours we visited the Salad Bar and although there wasn’t a huge selection, what was there was fresh and quality. There were only cold salads including a potato salad, beans, pasta salad etc etc but everything was tasty and it didn’t seem to be an afterthought as some salad bars tend to be.

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Then our food came.
They  both looked so good!
We have had food that looked good and didn’t taste good before though…
Hubby sliced through and saw that good juicy pinkness and was encouraged – the taste was even better than he could have imagined. Tender, melting in his mouth like butter.  He didn’t even want to have it with the sauce as he said that would ruin the taste.
He also said that every little bit of gristle had been removed and every mouthful was that tender goodness.
I wouldn’t know because he didn’t share any with me even though I shared mine. He said it was too good to share.

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I was equally happy with mine. I had no idea what it was going to be but when it came, I saw the lamb had been wrapped in pastry that was lined with spinach and bacon. Yum!

It was a big serve too! The first thing I tried was the mash which was just divine! It had mixed in with that wonderful jus and I don’t know what else was in there but it was just such a pleasure to eat.
The pastry from the lamb florentine just flaked away beautifully and the spinach was a really nice taste balancer. I really loved this dish and we both took our time eating our meals.

If I have to have any negatives it’s that there was no dressing in either of our salads and while the servers were nice and friendly, it did seem like they were just doing their jobs and not really interested in whatever you might have to say – but I’m being very harsh and this is a bistro after all. They certainly weren’t rude. I think they just would benefit from more experience.

The website site for the hotel says they have a new chef and this is a new menu. I’m not sure how long he’s been there but he’s a wonderful addition if this is the food he’s producing. It’s not often that hubby says “I want to come back here” after he’s only taken a few mouthful’s of food!! He even said that this is the best steak he’s had in at least six months so there you have it!

Definitely a huge recommendation for us.

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

Till next we chow…

Tower Hotel

Today on the Dining Diaries we learn that…

Grease is the swear word…
The amount of carpet is usually directly proportional to the amount of seniors and,
If you throw some frozen peas and corn into a baine-marie, you can call it a Salad Bar.

Diners it always breaks my heart to write a review that is not so pleasant. Mind you, not everything was bad but we’ll get to that later….

the-tower-hotelToday the team was at The Tower Hotel at Magill.

I’m not sure exactly why we went here except for the fact that hubby really really wanted to go somewhere that had a salad bar. I swear he’s fixated on those things at the moment… so we googled it and this place came up as somewhere we hadn’t been, so we thought we’d try it out.
I’m crying a little on the inside even as I write this.

It was a nice enough place when we walked in if you ignored the carpet. The staff were certainly friendly and at 12.30pm it was already full of seniors.
We grabbed a couple of menus and sat ourselves close enough to the salad bar that hopefully we wouldn’t be noticed making multiple trips to it…
In retrospect, we needn’t have worried.

The menu itself was great. Lots of things to choose from at reasonable prices. Hubby and I both chose from the “Chef’s Features” section. He chose “Slow Cooked BBQ Beef Short Ribs, twisted potato wedges, char grilled corn” and I went for the “Crispy Skin Atlantic Salmon with garlic buttered chats, grilled asparagus and hollandaise”

After ordering we took out little salad dishes and went to check out the salad bar. Hubby described it  this way – It’s a mile long with an inch of food.
I was a little too embarrassed to take a picture of it but I wish I had. It was about 12.45pm when we got there and the scalloped potatoes were almost empty. The baked potatoes were half gone but there were peas and corn sitting in warm water. Fill up to your hearts content!
They had a few cold salads on the other side – notably a potato salad and a pasta salad.
We took what we could and went back to our table. The cold salad looked as if it had been sitting there for some time but actually tasted surprisingly ok. It just would have been nice if there had been more variety. I would have really liked to have had some scalloped potatoes and although servers were walking past the salad bar, no one seemed to notice that the tray was virtually empty.
Finally at 1.05pm a senior grabbed a server and pointed at the empty trays in the salad bar at at 1.15pm, a new tray came out.
I went over to get some but was again disappointed. The potatoes were mushy and it seemed as if a carton of cream had just been thrown over the top of them.
Never mind… the meals were still to come!

I’ll start with mine because that was definitely the winner out of our two mains.
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I don’t often have fish so wasn’t sure if I was going to like this but it was just absolutely delicious! The skin was only mildly crispy but that didn’t matter. The fish was grilled and flavourful and really was a delight to eat! The asparagus was crispy and a nice accompaniment as were the tomatoes. The only thing I could have done without was the hollandaise sauce that tasted like popcorn butter to me.
Like a kid I grabbed a bread roll and made a tomato sandwich out of the tomatoes on the plate. They were really sweet and it was all too delicious but poor poor hubby….

Hubby decided to go for the ribs. He’d had them at our last review and I guess he was still riding that high…
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Believe me when I say I tried to make this picture look good.
He tried to start of positive and said the ribs were “ok”. There was quite a bit of fat around them. I tried a piece and got a mouth full of fat too. He said the meat was really quite chewy and the bbq sauce that was on it seemed to make them chewier still. The meat was not falling off the bone as it’s supposed to be but he didn’t mind the flavour of it.
When he ate his potatoes, he said all he could taste was grease. Now we’re not afraid of a little grease but he said it made him feel disgusting and that was all he could taste.

So I’m very sorry to say we didn’t have a fantastic time here.
The dining room was clean but looked dated however they do seem to have their regulars as I noticed lots of banter between the staff and their elderly diners. It clearly has earned a spot in this community so don’t go by opinion, go and judge for yourself!

Have you been to the Tower Hotel?
What did you think?
Let me know in the comments below.

Till next we chow….

The Woodcroft

Today on the Dining Diaries…

The ribs make us roar but the beef was a bore.
You can go far with an okay salad bar and
Fireplaces bring comfy heat and soothing cosiness while we eat.

Ah thanks for indulging me by reading that rhyme. Seemed liked a good idea at the time..

Now onto the review! Today we were at The Woodcroft.
What a nice little surprise this place was! We hadn’t been here before and truly hadn’t heard much about it but it came up on a list of possible places to go today so we chose it.

I had a look on their website before we left to see what kind of menu they had and to see if there is anything unique about the place. The Woodcroft calls itself the “soul of the south”, with priorities being brew, conversation, and comfort food. They also claim that their delicious new menu raises the bar on pub food. Sounded good to me!

When you walk through you see that there are quite a few different eating areas and many of them have  fireplaces which I find a huge plus! Nothing like sitting in front of a fire place. I love that the seating areas are diverse too, so you can pick whatever area you’re in the mood for. There’s lots of lovely wood and industrial type decor making the dining areas spacious looking but also strangely cosy and comforting.

We took a couple of menus and found a nice comfy booth. There really is a lot on this menu! From pub favourites like schnitzels and salt & pepper squid to specialties like Jambalaya, Tank Beer Braised Beef in cob, Habanero Prawns and many more.

Feathers Hotel

Today on The Dining Diaries,

When nothing else is standing out, Sliders give an unexpected and welcome kick,
Overhead fans leave us shivering on an already cold night.
We ponder what the opposite of cosy and warm is….

FullSizeRender (62)Diners today we were at the Feathers Hotel. I didn’t know a lot about this place and I tried to get some information from their website but unfortunately it’s still under construction.

Their facebook page claims that Feathers is a fresh and exciting eatery.

It’s definitely fresh!

It was a bitterly cold day in Adelaide when we visited and we could see a fireplace inside the restaurant. Sadly, there were no empty tables near the fireplace so we sat ourselves a few tables down and hoped to catch a bit of escaping warmth.
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On first impression the dining room looked clean, fresh and modern. Geometric tiles on the floor and well thought out seating to maximise but not squash in the number of customers.

Music was playing and a TV screen was on to distract – At just a little past five, this place was filling up fast. There were already a few tables full when we arrived and a few more people came with young children while we sat.

Our server was lovely but she seemed quite anxious to have our order. I ended up choosing the  Papardelle Ragu – KI braised lamb shoulder in a red wine, roast tomato & vegetable sugo w/ herbs & pecorino
Hubby went for a few entree’s instead. He chose Pork Sliders – Slow roasted pork shoulder, house slaw, chipotle mayo in a sweet bun and  Arancini Balls – Semi dried tomato & basil w/ marinara sauce & vegan parmesan

I have to say, I was surprised at how busy it was at this time of night. It’s obviously a well loved place but for me there was something missing and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
Overhead fans were on – probably to push warm air down but there was no warm air and we hoped the food would be able to warm us up when it came.

FullSizeRender (61)The food didn’t take too long to come out.

Hubby was pleasantly surprised by his Sliders.

They were a good size so his eyes were pleased immediately.  They didn’t skimp on the pork – It was tender and smothered in what they described as a tangy sauce, but it really gave a good kick!  Hubby said it reminded him of BBQ Ribs sauce.
The coleslaw gave your mouth a bit of relief but it was really a well balanced taste.

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The Arancini Balls were equally good.

Moist and full of flavour, yet crunchy on the outside. The texture was perfect.

We’d had these elsewhere a few times before and thought they were stodgy but the ones we were served at The Feathers were really lovely and not stodgy at all.

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My Lamb Ragu looked good when it came to the table.  I did think it looked a little small or perhaps lost in the plate that it was served in.
I was also a bit disappointed that I couldn’t smell that tomato and basil sauce. There were basil leaves on top but I think they’d just been thrown on there at the last minute. I couldn’t taste basil and I certainly couldn’t smell it.
The pasta was cooked al dente, and there was a generous amount of tender lamb throughout.
This was not a bad dish, it just wasn’t memorable. It was okay.
I think what made this experience not so great for me were those overhead fans because my dish cooled down almost immediately and was cold by the time I was finishing.
FullSizeRender (58)No pizzazz, no style, no aroma, not enough cheese and became cold almost immediately.

We also ordered a side of fries which were neither here nor there but the garlic aioli was kind of nice.

Efficient staff were by to pick up empty plates the moment you put your fork down.

Even though there was nothing too wrong with this place, I don’t think there was a lot right either. There was just something missing.
Perhaps it’s in the name? The Feathers. You think of something warm and soft – cosy – comforting.
While there is nothing wrong with this place, it’s not cosy. It’s the opposite of comforting and cosy. It was a little impersonal and I hesitate to say that as our server was a lovely young girl and these comments are definitely not a reflection on her.

I would probably go here again but next time order something different and see if that changes my mind about the food – and perhaps I won’t go until Summer time unless I can reserve a spot by the fireplace!

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

Till next we chow…