Orientai – Brighton

Today on the Dining Diairies…

I play “find the beef cheek”
Diners envy takes a strong hold and…
Good company and wine trumps average food….

ls.jpgDiners today we were at Orientai on Brighton rd in Hove.
Now diners I have been to Orientai many times however it’s probably been at least two years since my last visit.
Previously, I had never had a bad experience here. I’d always found the food to be good and the restaurant to be full.

Maybe it was for that reason that expectations were fairly high. I was out with a couple of girlfriends and we just wanted to have a fun night out gossiping and enjoying some good food.

The interior of the restaurant hasn’t changed too much from memory. It’s fairly clean with dim lighting giving it a minimalist modern feel. The shades were put up so we had views outside and it felt good to be in there.

We were greeted by friendly staff and soon found our table and the laughs started pretty much right away.

We ordered a couple of entree’s to share and some drinks while we pondered what we were going to have for our mains.

The staff were pretty helpful in explaining a few things on the menu that we were a little unsure about.
The server also told us that they were fairly busy and the kitchen was chaos. I looked around the dining room and it didn’t seem overly busy to me but maybe they were understaffed.

We chose the Chicken Spring Rolls – Vermicelli noodles & finely chopped vegetables, served with sweet & sour sauce and the Steamed Prawn & Chive Dumpling – Served with mild red curry sauce or spicy soy sauce which conveniently came in serves of three.

The spring rolls were out first.

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I don’t know that I’ve ever had a bad spring roll and this was no exception. The spring roll itself was thick and crispy and you could actually taste the chicken inside! I could also taste the vermicelli noodles which just balanced everything in your mouth nicely. Unfortunately after a few bites, it was all gone! The dipping sauce had a bit of a barbeque sauce taste to it. I’m not sure if it was supposed to be like that. It wasn’t unpleasant.
I should also add that salad was beautifully dressed. It had quite a zing to it!

The dumplings came shortly after and they were also quite a sensation.
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These were really delightful taste explosions in the mouth! They were pretty spicy inside but that sauce just added extra depth. I was surprised to read it was a curry sauce on the menu because it tasted a little “fruity” to me but I really enjoyed it and was really looking forward to our mains.

Unfortunately this would be the one time when I wasn’t too thrilled about the food here…

I was eyeing off a couple of items on the menu and one of them had a little symbol next to it, however the menu didn’t tell me what the symbol meant. I asked the server and she said it meant it was “popular”. Well surely you can’t go wrong with a popular dish right? So I went ahead and ordered the Black Bean Beef Cheeks – 5 hours slow braised beef cheeks served with green beans & capsicum

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I would have raved about this dish if I had actually got some beef cheeks on the plate. What I got was a hunk of fat and a couple of fork fulls of beef. What I did eat was really very nice, but it was about one quarter meat (being generous) and three quarters inedible fat.
I wanted to cry.
The vegetables were lovely. The sauce was a little salty however when I mixed it with the rice we ordered it was really very delicious.
I have to wonder what the kitchen thought of my dish coming back with a hunk of fat on the plate though. I know if that was MY restaurant, I’d be terribly embarrassed and looking to compensate the diner in some way.

One of my fellow diners ordered the Crispy Prawns – Wok tossed with capsicum, mushrooms &roasted cashew nuts. Mmmmm Sounds delicious right? I almost went for this myself just to get the cashew nuts!

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It looked…. ok… when it came out. There wasn’t a lot of  “wow” about it and although there wasn’t anything “wrong” with it, it wasn’t that great. It also looked a lot smaller than a lot of the other plates that were coming out of the kitchen.

The other dish that was ordered was the Thai Basil Noodle (hot) Yellow noodles with chicken, basil and seasonal vegetables

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Again this didn’t look super impressive when it came out. As the person who ordered this dish didn’t like coriander, I scored it. Yum.
She said however that it was not as “hot” as expected. When you put “hot” on a menu, you expect it to be hot right? She also couldn’t really taste the basil which is surprising as it’s on the menu. However she said it was all ok, just not something she would rave about.

I’d also like to mention that the staff were pretty lovely even though they said they were run off their feet and the restaurant seemed pretty  empty this particular night.

We did see some really lovely dishes coming out that looked a lot fuller than the ones we’d ordered and I had to wonder what they were.
As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been here many times and this was definitely not up to par with my past experiences. I really hope it was a once off or maybe it was just the dishes we’d ordered?
I’m sure I’ll dine here again but probably not in a hurry….

 

Have you been to Orientai?
What did you think?
Let me know in the comments below…

Till next we chow….

Pasta Deli

Today on the Dining Diaries…

The team visit a place that’s not for the faint-hearted,
We have a pizza with a dough so light yet crispy that only nonna could have made it and
I’m still trying to figure out if I was at a family engagement or a cafe/restaurant

FullSizeRenderDiners today we were at Pasta Deli located on Glynburn Rd at Glynde.

I grew up in this area and yet I don’t know much about that old Fire Station building on Glynburn rd. I’ll have to look into that!

In any case, hubby and I were a little shocked to see and hear the amount of people, filling this cafe/restaurant/deli on a Wednesday, mid-afternoon

FullSizeRender[6]Their set up is quite unique. They have deli style meats available for purchase and lots of other packaged goodies. Pasta, every kind of taralli, and other Italian favourites are there on display. Cooked food to take away from soups and pastas to delicious icecream and desserts are also on offer.

You can also dine in.

Hubby and I walked in and I was immediately overwhelmed. The food looked amazing, and the aroma’s were just heavenly but my social anxiety was riding high. No one told us the set up or where to go to order. We just wandered in and were left to fend for ourselves.
Silly me looked for a menu. I don’t think there is one but I’m also not ruling it out.
I eventually asked a server and she told me to stand in a line and someone would tell me “how the place works” over there.

I think the line I got in was the ordering line but even so, I had no idea what or how I was ordering and I was calling out to hubby “Do you want to go somewhere else?”
Luckily, hubby took over. I told him I didn’t care what I ate, and to just choose something for us.
Turns out, it was the ordering line and you just order from the food that’s displayed in front of you, although there is another counter that has parmigiana’s, vegetables, focaccia’s and pizzas alongside that ordering counter.

I’m not sure what happened but hubby came back more excited than a kid about to do an Easter Egg Hunt.

He’d ordered a pizza, a meat ball, rigatoni ragu and a lasagna for us to share. The food we saw coming out looked really good and there were so many people enjoying it and each others company. They are definitely doing something right here!!
At times I didn’t know if I was in a restaurant or at a family function which often incites the same anxiety.
The only thing missing was wine. No wine list. Not even a house wine. I guess they’re not licensed but I was a bit disappointed I couldn’t have a glass of red with my pasta.

The food wasn’t brought out all at the same time which was a shame. The Rigatoni came out first. I didn’t want to start eating it until hubby had something to eat as well but we waited and waited and waited. It did seem like a very long time, especially when we were so hungry and everything smelt so good!

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This was not my favourite dish. The rigatoni were really heavy and the pasta very thick. It was not enjoyable to eat. The meat was ok. Mama’s is definitely’s more tender but it wasn’t bad. I loved the bits of parsley on top. I could taste the freshness and I can’t remember any other time parsley has added that much zing to a dish.

The next dish to come out was the meatball.

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I wish I had taken this picture with something else so you can get perspective of size. It was quite a large meatball and I personally thought the middle of it wasn’t cooked well however hubby loved it and said he thought it had a nice flavour. The sauce on the meatball was more of a fresh sauce than the ragu I was having with my pasta and I really loved it. It was sweet and I loved the flavour of the tomatoes.
Hubby said he could imagine having three of those meatballs in a roll and making a meatball sub.

Next we tried the Pasta Deli Lasagna.

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This dish was definitely the winner for me!!! The pasta was so light!!! There is nothing better than a simple lasagna. Good pasta, good sauce, a bit of bechamel and you’re in heaven if they’ve all been done well. I don’t like lasagna that has bits of ham and egg and god knows what else throughout. I think that’s going beyond what a lasagna is meant to be.
This pasta just melted in your mouth. It was just like my mum makes and I remember rolling out that pasta with her when I was young.

Lastly we tried one of their pizza’s.

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Again this just blew me away! The base was light yet firm and crispy. There was substance to it. The toppings were fresh and flavoursome. Although there wasn’t a lot of topping, it didn’t really need much more. At $6.90 this was definitely a bargain.

I’m sure I’ll be back to Pasta Deli. This time I’ll know what I’m in for!
I don’t know that I’d dine in but I definitely want to take away some of that pizza.

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

Till next we chow…

Fasta Pasta – South Tce

Today on the Dining Diaries…

I went to an Italian restaurant and didn’t order Fettucini,
A scantily clad salad fails to excite
Cheap prices and friendly staff ensure we will be back anyway..

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Diners today we were at Fasta Pasta located on the corner of South Tce and Pulteney St.

We were time poor and just wanted something that was going to be quick and easy and Fasta Pasta was on the way and fit the bill perfectly!

This location is on the edge of the city’s CBD but still had a good crowd at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon. The staff were friendly and attentive. In fact two different servers greeted us as we wandered around inside trying to find a where we wanted to sit.

Eventually we sat on the Eastern side. We had a nice view of the exposed brick wall. Maybe it was the nice sunny day but with the sun streaming through the windows and the decor inside, it seemed very relaxing.

Sorry my photos are so bad but I hope you get an idea of what I mean.

I was determined to not order my staple of Fettucini. It was hard not to! I mean I am in a pasta restaurant after all!!
I did notice some interesting menu items including “Hamburger Italiano” which I was tempted  to get but didn’t. Maybe another time.

Hubby and I noticed the prices seemed very reasonable and we figured the serves would be small for that price, we got some fries to start to fill our rumbling stomachs.

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As we have come to expect, it was a simple but good plate of fries. Fresh, with a bit of tomato sauce on the side and the serving was quite generous.

We were almost done with those when our mains came out.

I did end up getting a pasta. I chose the Cannelloni. Pasta tubes filled with ricotta and spinach, oven baked in napoli sauce, finished with cream, basil and baby spinach.

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I really didn’t know how to make this look pretty. It looked kind of sloppy when it came out but even though we eat with our eyes first, I was still hopeful that it was going to taste good.
I didn’t expect the napoli sauce to be on one side and the cream to be on the other.

I found it strange that I wasn’t able to cut through the cannelloni with my fork. The pasta was quite tough in places. I ended up having to use the knife and when I ate it, found it to be a bit hard and crunchy in places.
While this was not unpleasant, it wasn’t what I was expecting in a Cannelloni dish.
The filling was pretty good. I could taste that ricotta and the napoli sauce was very fresh and enhanced the whole dish.
I’m not a fan of cream sauces although I know a lot of people are. I could have done without that on the plate but honestly, for the price of this dish ($15 main) I was certainly not unhappy with what I’d received.

Hubby went for a non pasta dish. He finds it hard to go past a Pork Belly when it’s on the menu!
The menu states “Roman style crispy skin, slow roasted Pork Belly served on mashed potato with rocket, red onion and sticky balsamic.

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When it first came out hubby said he thought it looked like they’d brought him a caramel slice.
The first thing I noticed was that the salad seemed to have no dressing. It just looked like some greenery thrown on the plate. Hubby shifted a few leaves and found a spot that seemed to have some balsamic on it. At least that’s what we hoped it was.
Hubby said the flavour of the Pork was nice although it was a little dry and the skin was definitely not crispy. He liked the mashed potato even if I thought it looked dry (I didn’t taste it)
Again, for the price ($19.90) this was not a bad dish at all. We wanted something quick, reasonable and fairly honest and that’s what we got.

While this may not be the most exciting place around, it’s very much family friendly and you pretty much know what you’re going to get every time you visit.

I’m sure this will not be our last visit to a Fasta Pasta restaurant.

Have you been to Fasta Pasta on South Tce?
What did you think?
Let me know in the comments below!!

Till next we chow…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lion

Today on The Dining Diaries…

We’re thrown a little out of a comfort zone
We encounter a very special “Special” and
Good food soothes our hungry souls…

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Diners today’s review is for The Lion Restaurant on Melbourne Street in North Adelaide.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the restaurant, or if not, the bar alongside it! I know I’ve whiled away an afternoon or two in the bar in my time but had never dined in the restaurant.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I had imagined it would be a bit pretentious.
Hubby and I noticed a sign that said a dress code applied and luckily, we normally look quite spiffy so it didn’t worry us.

We came in a little after 2pm but were told they take orders till about 2.45pm so that was good to know! The staff were lovely and if they had judged us walking in, I wouldn’t have known but hubby thought we were being talked down to a little. One of the servers asked us if we were celebrating a special occasion and I said “No we just want to get some lunch” I wondered then if that’s something they ask everyone or did we look  like a couple of bogans, wanting to have a once off nice meal in a nice restaurant to celebrate something? I did notice the wait staff had good rapport with other diners and that was nice to see.

In any case, if they were judgemental I don’t think they were overt about it and we settled in and enjoyed our surroundings. It did feel a bit “special” in a seventies type way. I thought the decor was a little seventies but hubby said he thought it was more Scandanavian. He’s probably right. I’m not usually a good judge of these things.

We were given some menus and the wine list.
At first I wasn’t sure I wanted anything on the menu. Nothing really jumped out at me. Hubby and I were actually on the verge of leaving but I felt a little embarrassed to do that and in the end was glad we’d stayed. A lovely server went through the menu and answered any questions we had. She also told us about the specials and I couldn’t go past the fish special which was Snapper.
Hubby decided to go for his usual, steak. More about that later!

We started off with a couple of dips. The server explained what they were but I couldn’t  remember all the fancy bits. Basically one was a cauliflower one and the other was some sort of Potato combination.
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I was pretty impressed when this came out! It looked like a decent serve. The dips themselves had a nice texture but I think they probably should have chosen different flavoured dips as they almost looked the same. The texture was the same and although they tasted different, by the end we didn’t really know what we were having.
They were very enjoyable though and had a lot of flavour!! I did really enjoy the dips and the bread and pita they served it with. The bread was toasty warm and the pita was crispy yet firm. Nice!

For main hubby ended up going for the Scotch Fillet on the menu, rather than the Steak special. Our server asked if he wanted potato puree or fries with his fillet. Hubby originally said puree, but after seeing a few other dishes come out, he asked the waitress if he could change and they graciously obliged.

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This Scotch Fillet was cooked perfectly! It was well seasoned and the mustard they provided added more flavour to the meat. There was also a decent amount of fries which made hubby very happy. I did wonder how it would have looked if he’d gone for the potato puree but he was very happy with his choice. I went for the Snapper Special.

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Unfortunately I can’t remember everything that it came with but it was so very delicious! The Snapper itself was beautifully cooked and I can only be sad because I wanted more!
It sat on a bed of some type of homemade pasta, sundried tomato, fresh tomato, mint, fennel, goats cheese, sultanas and probably more herbs and spices. There was also something crunchy in there that made the texture of what I was eating interesting. The crunchy things looked a little like maggots though so I had to not think of that every time I put a bit in my mouth!

I just think this dish was soooo pretty it was almost a sin to eat it and the flavour combinations worked wonderfully! I loved the unexpected sweetness of the sultanas. The ratio of all those ingredients was really very perfect.

The wait staff were attentive the whole time without being over bearing, checking that our meals were ok and asking if we wanted more wine/drinks.

Although a little on the pricey side, I think they strive to give you a special experience and I would have no hesitation in recommending the Lion as everything we had here was cooked so very well.

 

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

Till next we chow…