2016 – My Top Ten List

2016top10.jpgDiners I thought it might be a nice way to finish of the year, by listing the Top Ten places we dined at this year.

These are listed in no particular order and are included for a variety of reasons.
If you hover over and click on the name of the restaurant, you will be taken to our blog entry for that establishment.

I’m sure you all know but I want to say again that these reviews are based on our experience on the day. There are so many variables that could change a dining experience but I can only comment on what happened to us the day we went into a certain place.

Carmel’s at McLaren Vale

carmels2Oh there were lots of reasons why we loved Carmel’s!

From the service to the menu, to the way our food was cooked and presented, it was just a fantastic experience.

Carmel’s is the place that gave me the courage to go from ordering my meat medium-rare to rare.

I will also admit that I’m charmed by the McLaren Vale region so that probably has an influence in including Carmel’s in our Top 10 list but even so, there isn’t too much that this restaurant does wrong.

The Unley

IMG_5499We loved The Unley because of many things, one of which was the way it made us feel as we walked in.
Decorated in a modern style, with friendly staff throughout; We really felt welcome here.

Besides all that, the food that came out was presented beautifully, tasted amazing and was generous in size!
Everything we want from a dining establishment!

Portobello

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I can’t go past Portobello as it was one of the first restaurants after I started reviewing, that really left an impression on me.

Even looking at that pasta is making my mouth water – I can remember and almost taste how beautiful that ragu sauce was.

I love when staff are passionate about the place we’re dining at too and the server we had definitely was – telling us about the history of Portobello.

It’s a shame that this restaurant is a little difficult to get to but I really hope people get down there and try it out for themselves.

Le-Riad

FullSizeRender (19)With Le-Riad we became a bit more adventurous.

Instead of the usual Pub or Italian restaurant, we visited a restaurant where the cuisine was Moroccan and we were definitely won over!

The staff treated us and each other like family (and I suspect they were) and were very proud of the food they brought out; and so they should be!

The meat, so tender, so full of flavour. Le Riad was a wonderful dining experience from the moment we walked in, till the moment we walked out.

Lockleys Hotel

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There were a few things that set Lockleys Hotel apart for us.

Firstly, the service was just amazing. We had arrived early and yet the servers went above and beyond to accommodate us, even when we said we didn’t mind.

We just weren’t expecting to be wowed and yet we were.

We were also impressed with the amount of diners who must have been regulars as many of them spoke to the servers as if they knew them.
Besides all of this, the food itself was amazing with such attention to detail that left us very impressed.

Two Bit Villains

FullSizeRender (80)With Two Bit Villains, I experienced my first Vegetarian Restaurant.

I’m certainly not opposed to having a meat free meal, in fact, I often do, but I’d never been to a place that was exclusively Vegetarian.

I loved everything from the decor, to the staff, the menu and those amazing soda selections!!

Again, you can tell that the staff are proud of the food they’re bringing out of the kitchen and all this good feeling is very infectious!

I’m so glad we went to Two Bit Villains. It’s definitely a little gem in Adelaide Arcade.

Coopers Alehouse

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We weren’t expecting much the day we went to Coopers Alehouse and it had been a bit of a stressful day, but all was forgotten as we relaxed into our surroundings.

It was busy when we were here and immediately we noticed that the food coming out of the kitchen looked amazing and they seemed to be generous serves.

We definitely over ordered by accident, but everything we had was cooked so well and I had to be impressed because there was a lot of staff, trying to do a lot of things yet it all worked really well.

This is definitely a place to visit.

Parlamento

par1Ah the good old Adelaide icon, Parlamento. Everyone knows Parlamento in the CBD! Most people have probably already been there too!!

I walk past there most days and had always wanted to try out the food because it seems to be always busy so they must be doing something right!!

And when I visited for myself I could see why. Again, the love of what they do shines. They are passionate about their food but not only that, they want YOU to be passionate about their food too!

We had a lovely rapport with our waiter and that made the whole night really special.
I still can’t stop thinking about Jacki Weaver and that carafe of wine though….


Nonna and I

fullsizerenderThis place is still recent in our memories and I’m still gushing over how good everything was here.

From Chef Khalil’s passion, to the food he served, it was absolutely a perfect dining experience.

Out of all the places I’ve reviewed, this is probably the one that I’m most keen to revisit.


Fedoras Restaurant

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Last, but certainly not least is Fedoras Restaurant, another place that took us completely by surprise.

Again, the attitude of all those working from the guy in the parking lot, to the people behind the bar and wait staff made an amazing different.

We were treated as if we were the only ones dining in that restaurant that night.

There were four in our party when we were at Fedoras and each one of us got an amazing meal – That’s not always something that easy to do!

So there you have it, the first Spoon You Fork Me Top 10 list!
I hope we’ve given you something to think about for the next time you’re looking to dine out.

There were many more places I could have mentioned but alas, there is only room for ten in a Top Ten list!

The Spoon You Fork Me team are going to take a little holiday break, but don’t despair, we’ll be back with you early in the new year with lots more views and reviews to come!!

We wish you much love and happiness as we enter this holiday season.
Stay safe, and eat well!!
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Till next we chow….

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Nonna and I

Today on the Dining Diaries,

We discover passion of a sort we haven’t seen before,
Chef Khalil romances us with his food  and personality and
We experience such an abundance of flavours that I’m already planning my next few visits…

FullSizeRender[3].jpgDiners today we were at Nonna and I, a cute little restaurant just off the Parade in Margaret St, Norwood.

Hubby and I had been looking at a few different places to go to and as always, I like to read a few reviews before I go, just to see what other people think. In my quick searching I couldn’t find one bad thing written about Nonna and I.

I almost walked past the entrance when we got there. It was mid afternoon on a Saturday and I called to see if they were still serving lunch and was told yes they were and to please come on down.
What I didn’t know at the time is that Chef Khalil himself answered the phone and also was the person who greeted us at the door.
He settled us in, answered a few questions I had about the restaurant then left us to look over the menu.

As I read down the list I said “ooo I’m going to have that” then something else would catch my eye and I’d exclaim “No, I’m going to have that!” and then something else would come up and I’d change my mind again. There are so many enticing selections on the menu.

The catchphrase of Nonna’s is “Come hungry, Leave happy” and in fact, Chef Khalil said these words to us.  He is so passionate about his food and restaurant that it really is infectious!

We started with some Bruschetta to share.

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What I loved most about this dish was the crispiness of the bread. It was absolutely perfect!! I don’t want my Bruschetta to be any other way! The lovely taste of tomato and basil was just what I wanted. I could have had a touch more olive oil on there but it was still a really nice start to the meal and I’m sure that if I’d asked Chef Khalil for more olive oil he would have come and drizzled it on in an instant!
His aim is to make sure you have the perfect dining experience.

For main, hubby chose one of the specials. Beef Cheeks. He’d never had this before but we know when it’s cooked well, there is nothing better than a good Beef Cheek.

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Just looking at that picture makes me sad I’m not still eating it. I don’t even know what to say, I’m stunned by flavour into silence. It blew our expectations. The wine jus was just divine and I told hubby he HAD to mop it up with the bread that had been brought to our table.

I ended up choosing “Veal alla Nonna” Topped with eggplant, mozzarella & roasted pepper in light neapolitana sauce.

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Again this dish impressed me immensely. Chef Khalil is not shy with portion sizing.
There was a good amount of cheese and eggplant over this dish and it was just perfect. The veal was tender and tasty and topped with my favourite ingredients that were fresh and perfectly seasoned. I just don’t know how he could have made this any better.

After he brought out our mains he checked to see if there anything he could do to make it better for us.. more salt? pepper? Anything we didn’t like? He really wants his customers to enjoy his food.

By the time we were leaving we were the only ones in the restaurant and we started up a conversation with Chef Khalil that lasted a good half hour. This is beside the fact that he told us he’s the “quiet” one of the family.  He definitely is no wallflower!

But we loved talking to him and finding out about his life and how he has come to be where he is today. You’ll find some of his story on the Nonna and I website.

I cannot recommend this place highly enough and am very eager to get back there again soon!

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

Till next we chow…

The Office

Today on the Dining Diaries…

We walked in with low expectations and were pleasantly surprised,
Christmas lights/decorations pretty up the dining area and
Who needs a band for entertainment when you can people watch..

f2027b20a2769a270d0f692a091ffa98Diners today we were at The Office on Pirie St in Adelaide’s CBD.

It was another one of those days where we couldn’t agree on where we wanted to go for dinner and as the clock continued to tick over on this particular Saturday evening, our options were being limited even further.

Finally we settled for The Office. I called at about 5pm to make sure they weren’t booked and was told I couldn’t have a 6pm or 6.30pm booking unless I was ordering the seafood platter. The next available time they had to reserve a table was 7pm.
Honestly it didn’t really make sense to me, perhaps he misunderstood what I’d said?
When we got there, there was a work group having their Christmas break-up party downstairs, and upstairs in the dining area, there was a table of about ten people.
So my guess is they wouldn’t have had the staff to cater for us if we’d come earlier. That’s the only thing I could think of because there were many tables available.

fullsizerender3Now the staff were very friendly and lovely and a girl brought us some menus. I do like the dining area which is like a balcony overlooking the bar. It was also prettied up with lights. I don’t know if this is how it always is, or if they’ve just put these up for Christmas but it looked nice.

The menu seemed to have your usual pub fare with a good amount of pizza options on there too.

I saw some plates coming out and they looked really good. That’s always a positive sign.
Oh and I should add that I thought the prices on the menu were very reasonable too!

We decided to start off with some nachos. My greedy little eyes were quite excited when we saw these being delivered to our table.

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This was quite a generous serve for the price. Not only for the size of the serve, but for the amount of cheese and salsa that was not only on the top, but actually through the nacho’s as well. The salsa was a little too sweet for my liking but that is only personal preference. It’s been a while since we’ve enjoyed good nachos so I’m glad we’ve found a new place where we can satiate our nacho cravings!

When it came to mains, although there were a few things I could have gone for on the menu, I went with the mushroom risotto. I’ve wanted to have one for a while but usually, if there is a risotto on the menu it’s a Seafood one and I don’t like to eat things with tentacles…

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I really don’t know how this mushroom risotto could have been better. The rice was perfectly cooked and the risotto had a lovely creamy but firm consistency. The cheese on top was a perfect addition and I’m sure if I’d had the chance to add the cheese myself I would have ‘Over cheeseed’
If you love mushrooms or are a vegetarian I would highly recommend this dish. Risotto is not an easy dish to make so the fact that the chef  produced one of this quality says a lot about him.

Hubby went for one of his staples, the Salt and Pepper Squid.
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As soon as he started eating it I heard sounds of gastronomic pleasure so I knew he was enjoying it.
He said the Squid was tender and not chewy and it all looked really good on the plate. There was also plenty of dressing on the salad, and a good amount of tartare sauce.

I found myself thinking that it was a shame that there weren’t more people dining here. I guess The Office is known more as a bar than a restaurant, but perhaps that needs to change.

While we were dining a work group were having their Christmas function and that was really interesting to watch.You can perhaps imagine the type of things we were seeing as this group of people continued to drink more than eat.
There was a live band starting about the time we were finishing up but we had been thoroughly entertained by the Christmas party revelers!

All in all, kudos to the chef (and yes I did tell the wait staff we had really enjoyed our meals here)

If you are thinking about dropping into The Office for a meal I would recommend you do so. Great food at great prices!

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

Till next we chow…

Panacea

Today on the Dining Diaries….

Latin music transports us,
Wonderful flavours “wow” us and
We interact with passionate staff who treat us like old friends.

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Diners today we were at Panacea at Marion.

I must admit, this was the place I was most interested in when the Westfield Marion addition/development was revealed.

I just love the look of it!
Lots of red exposed brick, wood and iron giving it possibly and industrial look? I’m not up with decor but I do know what I like and what makes me feel comfortable and at ease and this place does it for me!


We were greeted but lovely staff, handed some menus and went to take our seats.
The choices on the menu were a little different to what we were used to but they did seem really good and we had a bit of a hard time deciding what we were going to go with.

In fact out lovely waitress came and went a few times while we were still trying to decide what to eat and drink and that’s not usual for us! She was patient and answered all the questions we asked about both the restaurant and the food.

Finally we decided to start with Meatballs – pork & veal cooked in a rich tomato sauce,  as suggested by our waitress, and also a serve of Patatas Bravas – crisp fried potatoes with fresh salsa & sherry vinegar.
For main I chose the fish of the day special  – Atlantic Salmon – and hubby, much to my surprise, went for the Gnocchi. Unfortunately, I didn’t write down how it appeared on the menu and it’s not on their online menu so I can’t tell you exactly what it came with, only that it had cauliflower and cream in it as well.

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The first plates came out fairly quickly.

How good do those potatoes look!!!

The salsa doesn’t look like much but it gave those potatoes such a unique flavour.

I wish I was experienced enough to tell you what herbs and spices were used, but whatever it was, it was just a magical pairing.

The potatoes were crispy on the outside yet soft on the inside and that salsa was sweet and just so delicious!

I was so glad we’d chosen this…. and equally glad I had taken my half and put it on a separate plate before hubby got his hands on it…

fullsizerender3Our second starter was the Meatball dish as suggested by the waitress.

Again this dish really impressed.

We had four good sized meat balls on this plate and they were as tender as you can imagine and full of flavour.

What I loved most of all though was that sauce!! The tomatoes were so fresh and sweet. It was so lovely to eat and the bread they brought out with it was crispy and toasty warm. I wish they’d given us a bit more bread actually!
It was a wonderful way to start and I was super excited to see what would be coming out next….

I’m pretty sure my choice was the best out of our two mains.

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That salmon could not have been cooked better. The skin was crispy and the inside was just perfectly cooked. It looks like a small piece of the plate but it was really deceivingly substantial. I was really hoping hubby wasn’t going to ask me for more (I did let him have a teensy taste)
fullsizerender1The potato rosti was also a great accompaniment.
I’m not a huge fan of hollandaise sauce myself as I usually find it too thick and too creamy but they had a generous amount on here for those that do.

Because I loved this so much I thought I’d show you another picture of my dish from a different angle. See how big that serve is?

Again the herbs and spices used were just perfect. I’m not a big fan of coleslaw but if you do like it, you would have loved what was on my plate. It was very creamy and I felt my hips widening just looking at it!

Hubby’s Gnocchi looked interesting .

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It was a little bit deceiving because he would go to get what he thought was a gnocchi, and it would turn out to be a piece of cauliflower.
He too said the flavour combinations were amazing. Pairing gnocchi, caulifower and walnuts is probably a brave thing to do but it really worked, especially when covered in that gorgeous creamy sauce.

One thing I was disappointed in was that I didn’t notice the Sangria on the drinks menu until we were well into our mains!!
There are also a good selection of pizza’s on the menu and I’m curious to see how they taste.

When I went to pay the bill, I told the server that everything was really good, the owner heard and came to tell me about some of the other food  items on the menu and to talk about his personal favourites, and then the chef came out too to hear what the feedback was about the food. Their passion really shines through and I loved seeing that!

Panacea, I will definitely be back and this time it will be for Pizza and Sangria!!

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

Till next we chow…

Nino’s Cafe

Today on the Dining Diaries…

Aromas entice and dictate our menu choice,
We find a Bolognese that wouldn’t offend a Vegetarian and
Someone’s eye’s were way bigger than his stomach….

ninos-of-victor-harbor-restaurants-fleurieu-peninsula-2.jpgDiners today we were at Nino’s Cafe in Victor Harbor. There were proud signs displayed that told us they’ve been around since 1974.
Simon and Kirsten Pitman  have owned and operated Nino’s of Victor Harbor for the last fifteen years.The business was previously owned and established by Nino and Angela Solari about twenty five years earlier.
Nino’s is a Victor Harbor icon which is located in the heart of Victor’s main street precinct and well known by locals and tourists alike.

It was just a regular weekday and it was almost two thirty when we arrived and yet there were lots of diners inside and out. Some were lingering over lunch while others were having a coffee and sneaky cake and if I forget to mention it later, their cake selection is just awesome!

The staff were friendly and although we weren’t greeted right away we felt like we’d walked into a friend’s home and felt immediately welcome. It’s a lovely relaxed atmosphere. We found ourselves a table and were brought a couple of lunch menu’s.
I don’t think the decor has changed much over the last few years but I also think that there’s a charm and sense of comfort to this familiarity.

The menu was ok for a lunch menu. There was a good amount of pizza choices, a few pastas and some other lunch type foods such as burgers and focaccia’s.

Hubby kept looking through the menu but that smell of the pizza’s cooking did not allow him to consider any other menu item. It was really enticing!!
I decided to go for a pasta but as I didn’t want chili, seafood or a cream base, was limited to the spaghetti bolognese.  We also ordered some fries to share while our food was being cooked.

fullsizerenderOur waiter was lovely but he took this order by memory and fifteen minutes later I wondered if he’d forgotten because the fries still hadn’t come…
A little while later, all the food came out at once. That kind of defeats the purpose of having a starter…

There was nothing wrong with the fries and they were a decent serve, I just didn’t really feel like having them when I had my pasta in front of me.

Hubby’s pizza looked delicious!
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You never really know what kind of pizza base you’re going to get. Myself, I like them the traditional way.. .a little spongier but still with a firm base.
This one here was ok, but (Sorry Nino) it felt like a pre made base I could have bought from Coles.
Hubby really loved the toppings which were generous and fresh and honestly, the base was ok too, I guess it just depends on what you’re expectations are.  I’m an Italian-Australian and my mama would not make a pizza base like that.
In any case, hubby had all of it minus the crusts which he lovingly gave to me (we have a perfect marriage – one who loves crusts, and one who doesn’t) but realised his stomach had forgotten to signal that he was full and was quite uncomfortable for the rest of the afternoon!

I felt like I hadn’t had pasta for a while (though I have) and was really craving this meal!

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I took this photo from the “good” side. The other side didn’t have much sauce or cheese. I really wish they’d let you put your own cheese on. I hate when they bring it out to you like that already.
The pasta was ok. I didn’t have any major complaints. I normally choose a “napolitana” sauce because I really just love good tomatoes and basil over my pasta so I wasn’t disappointed that there was barely any meat in this Bolognese sauce. I really had to search for it. If you advertise something as being “Bolognese” then you should be able to taste it right? Still, it wasn’t bad and it did hit the spot.

My complaints are little ones and I would have no hesitation in going back to Nino’s. There’s just something about that place!

And next time, I’d definitely have to leave room for a cake and coffee!!

Have you been to Nino’s?
What did you think?
Let me know int he comments below!!

Till next we chow…