Coopers Alehouse – Gepps Cross

Today on the Dining Diaries…

Big carpark, big dining room, big serves!
We break the “not so good” review curse (and no salad bar.. connection??? I think so!)
And, our hunger is satiated before our shared entree is devoured!

FullSizeRender (84).jpgMy fellow diners, today I put my foot down and said “no salad bars!!!” and because we were in the area, we took ourselves to Coopers Alehouse at Gepps Cross. What a good choice that turned out to be.

The first thing we noticed was how big the car park was! We wondered if it was a shared carpark with another business but if it was, we didn’t see it.

We walked in via the outside area by mistake, but I’m glad we saw it as it’s really quite large, comfortable and has a lot of heating – Not to mention the huge screen TV that had the footy on! What a perfect place to sit and watch a game with your mates!

Walking into the dining area, we were again impressed by the size and it was full! Mostly every table was taken and we were lucky to get a seat.
We grabbed some menus and went to our table. Lots of good selections on there.
I ended up going for the Braised Lamb Shanks (Yes I did note the plural!) With mashed potato, sautéed chorizo, green beans & red wine jus
Hubby “steak man” chose the Graziers Black Angus Porterhouse; char-grilled to your liking accompanied by chips, sauce & mustard.
All menu items have a “suggested” beer pairing but neither of us are beer drinkers so we didn’t pay much attention to it.
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Because we were ravenously hungry we decided to split a margarita pizza as an entree. We thought it would be a 9 inch size or smaller and be enough to whet our appetite but when it came out, it was much more than that!

It was huge! And it was covered in cheese. This picture doesn’t do it justice. Half of this pizza each was going to be a meal in itself! The first thing I noticed were the aromas – Strong basil and tomato scents that pleased my inner Italian. The crust was not thick and not thin either. Just right! and cooked really well. I can’t remember when I last had a pizza this good. With so few toppings it was really so tasty! I was just expecting to have a little something before my lunch and got so much more.

I looked around to see what other people were eating and noticed the serves all seemed rather large. I wish I’d seen that before we ordered! Having said that, we weren’t the only people to share a pizza as an entree.
The wall behind the bar was interesting. Not sure what the style is called. Steam Punk? I thought it looked good anyway.

Our mains came out quite quickly.

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The steak looked pretty good!

Hubby likes it “medium rare” and always orders his sauce on the side. I don’t see the point of ruining the taste of a good steak and prefer my sauce on the side too.

He feels it was more rare than medium rare but I thought it looked perfect.

He said it was tender and seasoned perfectly and really enjoyed it.
The mushroom sauce was nice – not too rich and a nice accompaniment for the meat.

FullSizeRender (88)The lamb shanks looked equally good!

I’ve wanted to order lamb shanks when I’ve seen them on recent menu’s but something else caught my eye. Today I was persuaded because I knew I’d be getting two.

They were just perfect. The meat was tender and falling off the bone. The mash was just amazing! Wonderful flavours mixed through there as I wiped it up with the jus. The chorizo also, surprisingly for me, added a bit of heat to the taste. It was a wonderful dish!

Everything we had was reasonably priced making Coopers Alehouse a really good place for families to go to.
The other great thing about Coopers Alehouse Gepps Cross is that they have all day dining. That’s perfect for people like us who, by the time we stop to eat, have realised that it’s past “kitchen open” hours.

I would highly recommend this place and would be interested to hear what other people’s experience have been. Coopers Ale House – Shank you very much (Yeah I heard that collective groan)

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

Till next we chow…

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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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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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…

The Edinburgh Hotel

Today on The Dining Diaries…

We learn that 5.30pm sometimes means 6.00pm
We searched high and low but couldn’t find the chili and
We were won over by a raging hunger, mood lighting and a lovely waitress.
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We dined at the historic Edinburgh Hotel or The Ed as it likes to be known today.

We’d been run off our feet all day and as such, had “forgotten” to have lunch so at 5pm, we were ravenously hungry.

Walking into the The Ed you immediately feel relaxed.
Outside there was a biting, frosty cold but inside The Ed, it was toasty warm with dim lighting.

We didn’t think dinner service would start as early as 5pm so we sat in the bar and ordered a couple of drinks. I asked the bar staff what time the dining area opened for dinner and was told 5.30pm. Half an hour? That’s nothing. Just enough time to sip a nice wine.

FullSizeRender (51)At 5.30pm we walked into the restaurant. It really is a nice dining room. Lots of heating, mood lighting and comfortable seating just make you feel at home and make you want to linger a little – especially when the weather is so awful outside.

The views outside are really special too – although by the time we got in there, it was already quite dark outside but I can imagine with all that nice greenery out there, that it would be a really pretty place to sit during the day, protected by the elements.

So at 5.40pm I went to the counter to get a menu and a slightly flustered waitress said that dinner service didn’t start until 6pm and implied that the bar staff often get this information wrong as sometimes it really does start at 5.30pm but not on a Monday.

That was ok, we were enjoying our surroundings. Another lovely waitress came and brought us the menu’s to look through and some water while we waited. She also  asked if there was anything else we wanted and she kindly got us some wedges from the bar menu to tide us over until dinner started.

Their menu is really varied and there were lots of things on there I could have ordered but hubby and I ended up both ordering from their specials menu.

He went for the Char grilled 400g T-Bone served with a mini Caesar salad and chips and I had the pasta special which was Fettuccini with chili prawns, asparagus, Spanish onions, peas, garlic and baby spinach in a napolitana sauce.

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The food looked wonderful when it came to the table. Our hunger may have had an input on that one.

The chips were a little cold but the mini caesar was really well done with crispy bread and that lovely caesar dressing.

You could tell they had used quality ingredients.

The meat had a nice chargrill taste throughout and was cooked and seasoned well – lovely and tender.

I was pretty happy with how my pasta looked when it came to the table too. First of all it was big – tick – and it was pasta!!  I love pasta.
FullSizeRender (53)There were LOTS of prawns in this pasta. They definitely didn’t skimp on that, and the prawns were juicy but they were not chili prawns.

I was actually a bit nervous about this dish because I don’t normally eat chili but thought I’d take a chance – Even though I preferred it without the chili, it’s disappointing when the menu says something and it’s not on your plate.

Similarly, I didn’t see any peas on there or baby spinach or asparagus – only beans and prawns.
There were baby tomatoes which really lacked taste and this dish probably would have been better without them but it was ok – really it was, and again I have to say we had the nicest waitress who made sure we were ok and happy with how the evening was going.

We had a nice time at The Ed. It is a very interesting place historically and you can read more about that from their website.
I would definitely recommend a visit here even if only for a drink – their wine menu is quite extensive.

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

Till next we chow…