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….

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Napoli Pizzeria

Today on the Dining Diaries…

Too busy for more wine…
Too busy to keep up with orders and kitchen  but…
Not too busy to want to please….

Diners today we were at Napili Pizzerianapoli-wood-fired-pizzeria-mile-end-sa1.JPG.

You may have driven past it.

It’s located on Henley Beach rd, a few kilometres out of the CBD.

Walking in we noticed that if the tables didn’t already have someone sitting at them, they had a reserved sign on them. I didn’t think we were going to be able to eat in (they also have a thriving take away business) but the lovely girl who greeted us showed us to a table and said the people it was reserved for weren’t expected for quite some time.

There were lots of things I loved immediately about this place. First, the tableclothes!!

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Oh my god, can you get more Italian than that! Coupled with the Italian music that was playing, it was just perfect! I could also smell the pizza’s cooking and that was just making my mouth water. I couldn’t wait to see what was going to come from the kitchen!

We ordered some drinks and had a look through the menu. The waitress was very accommodating and answered any questions I had but it was clear that she had a lot of tables to look after on her own and was anxious to move on.

Hubby had his heart set on an antipasto platter, and a pizza to share so we did that.
The menu has it as “Antipasto A Modo Nostro” (serves 2) A selection of cold cuts, cheeses & Italian delicacies

“A Modo Nostro” means “our way” and I guess they really mean that because we got this lovely platter
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and a serve of garlic bread (also pictured) but thirty minutes later I saw another anitpasto plate with slightly different things on there. The menu didn’t state that you can choose different options but I guess there’s the possibility that the diners who got the different platter specifically asked for different things on theirs.

The food itself was lovely! Everything was fresh and it was a perfect platter to share over a lovely wine… the only glass of wine we were going to be offered by the way.
I had to feel sorry for the waitress as she really did have a LOT of tables to cover by herself. She did it with grace and style but I was a bit sad that I didn’t have the chance to order another glass of wine.

I joined their Instagram page while we waited for our pizza and looked at the pictures of food they’d shared. Now I was really looking forward to ours!
After lots of “dings” from the kitchen, our pizza was brought out to us

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People have different expectations when it comes to pizza and we all have different things we prefer.
The dine-in menu only gives you the option of a 12 inch pizza. If you’re taking away you can have a 15 inch but the waitress said they currently don’t have plates for the 15 inch so they don’t offer them on the eat in menu.

Our pizza was one with “the lot”
I wasn’t disappointed by it. In fact there was lots of things I liked about it. The crust was crunchy and beautiful to eat. I wish I could have had it with another glass of wine. The middle of the pizza however was a little soggy. You couldn’t pick up a piece, it had to be cut with a knife and eaten with a fork. Or you could have just rolled the whole thing up and eaten it that way.
Hubby would have loved more toppings, in particular, cheese. For me, I like my pizza’s fairly sparse and I do believe that is the traditional Napoli way so I wasn’t disappointed at all. You may remember I’ve mentioned before that the best thing I love about pizza is the crust while hubby likes the toppings so he eats the middle bits and leaves me the crusts. It works well for us…

Napoli Ristorante has many good reviews online and the waitress mentioned that every time they have a good review, the restaurant gets excessively busy. There are lots of things to love about this place.
Personally, even though I liked what I had, I thought it was a little over priced for what we got however it wouldn’t dissuade me from going back because…
when the moon hits your eye like a great pizza pie that’s….. Napoli Ristorante!

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

Till next we chow…

Caffé Primo – New York Bar and Grill

Today on the Dining Diaries

We narrowly avoid an explosion of bread
I remember that eggplant is the best vegetable in the universe and
Hubby doesn’t order the steak and survives the experience… barely….

primo2Diners today we were at Caffé Primo … or maybe New York Bar and Grill… or maybe a combination of both. I think it’s actually a Primo’s within New York Bar and Grill. I’m not quite sure.

Being locals, hubby and I have come to this location quite often in the past. The nachos were just THE BEST!! But that was well before it was ever a Primo’s.

We were on limited time today and just wanted a quick bite to eat so as we were in Marion Shopping Centre anyway, we decided to lunch at Primo’s.

primo3We were there quite early so there were only a few tables filled. One of them had about three or four mothers and their children were playing in the play area within the restaurant.
I think this is a really great idea as it gives parents a chance to catch up and great to keep the kiddies entertained too!

I love the feel of this place. Most, if not all of the old New York Bar and Grill interior is still intact. It doesn’t feel like a Primo’s, it feels like something different!

primoWe got to sit in the nice spacious booth and took a look through the menu. I think there’s a pretty good choice on the menu and most things are pretty well priced.

Now it was entirely my fault as I didn’t notice on the front of the menu that it says a garlic bread is complimentary with all lunch meals. It’s there, right at the top of the menu, but I just didn’t notice it.

I almost ordered a bruschetta to have before my main but I’m so glad I didn’t when I saw the garlic bread/mini garlic pizza coming out.
I think, even though it is clear, it would be a good idea for the servers to mention that the diners will also get a garlic bread with their meal when they go to place their order.

primonybg3In any case, it was really good!

It was just like a mini garlic pizza!

Great toasted focaccia with liberal amount of garlic butter on there.

Delicious!

Probably best to stay clear of it if there’s to be hope of any kissing afterwards though!

Primo’s has a reputation of bringing out food quickly and today was no exception.
I thought both dishes looked pretty sensational when they came out.

Hubby chose the Chef’s Salad. I wasn’t sure I was hearing right when he ordered it. I didn’t even have to try to persuade him to get something non steak like, he did it all on his own! And I think he made a really good choice as it looked really really good.

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The menu describes it as following: Tender pieces of chargrilled chicken with pan seared garlic prawns, smoked salmon, avocado, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, onion, capsicum & lettuce with a balsamic seeded mustard dressing.
He’d asked for the dressing on the side.
So how did it taste? He said it was good and fresh. The dressing was quite creamy and he liked that.
He looked a bit wistful after eating it for a bit and said it didn’t have what he’d expect a good salad to have – and that is cheese, olives and bacon…
Personally I think he’s speaking as someone who normally says “salad is not a meal” and no matter that there were prawns, chicken and salmon in there, I think he felt like it wasn’t a real meal.
I think it looked amazing and would be a great choice for someone wanting a healthier option.

I chose to have a pasta – Fettuccine is my go to pasta – and I chose the Melanzane sauce.
Eggplant, mushroom & roasted capsicum tossed with caramelised onion in a basil & garlic napolitana sauce.

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Honestly there’s not much I could fault about this. The pasta was cooked perfectly, the eggplant was absolutely divine. Every ingredient in there is or became my favourite thing. The one teeny complaint is that the Parmesan cheese, if that’s what it was, was below par. It looked and tasted like the “Parmesan” cheese that you can buy from un-refrigerated packets in the grocery store. It didn’t spoil the dish for me though as I devoured that thing and I was really really hoping hubby wasn’t going to ask me for some.
He kept looking into my plate saying “That’s not fair, I didn’t get olives” but I didn’t get olives either, he was eyeing off my eggplant.

When we left I was really pretty full and the place had filled up quite fast.

Primo’s, it may not be fancy but it’s one of those places that will rarely let you down!

Have you been to Primo’s at New York Bar & Grill Marion?
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…