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.

FullSizeRender
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.
FullSizeRender[1]
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

FullSizeRender[3]
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!

FullSizeRender[2]
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

FullSizeRender[4]
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….

East Taste Cafe

Today on the Dining Diaries…

A lovely waiter just makes our night!
We discover that it’s ok to use Pressed Metal on your walls and
Food so delicious you’ll definitely want to come back for more

easttaste
Diners today we had the pleasure of dining at East Taste Cafe which was first established in 2003 on Gouger st, the heart of Adelaide’s China Town.

My kids had actually taken me here a few years ago and we had a really great dining experience but a few years down the the track, when I wanted to revisit, I had no idea which place it was as there are so many great Asian restaurants on Gouger street.

Tonight I was catching up with a friend and she told me of a great place she had recently visited on Gouger street and wouldn’t you know it, it was the same place my kids had taken me too!!
I really couldn’t wait to see what the food was going to be like!


It was relatively empty when we walked in but it was still very early but most of the tables had “reserved” signs on them. In fact, by the time we were leaving every table was full and there was a lot of good eating being had!

You may have noticed the pressed metal on the walls. I’m not sure what I thought of that but I think it suited the place. The dining room was definitely very clean and that normally gives me confidence in the food that’s going to come out of the kitchen.

et9
Our waiter was just so adorable he could have sold us anything!

He was happy to engage in a bit of non intrusive small talk and we just thought he was so cute we had a photo with him.
I ended up cutting us out of this picture and I hope he doesn’t mind that I posted it but isn’t he cute? Such a lovely man and definitely an asset to this place.

We decided to order a few different things from the menu and share.

We started with a serve each of the  Shallot Cake. All I can say is “wow”! They were seemingly so simple, yet so full of flavour.

et3

The outer pastry was crunchy and light while the inside was gooey and full of the gorgeous shallot taste. I’m so glad we opted for a serve each! Just looking at that picture is making me wish I was eating them again.
Not too sure about the carrot and cabbage on the side. I just think it’s better to have nothing than to have something that can only work as a “filler”. There was no dressing on it, just a bit of colour on the side. That’s a very minor criticism though!
This was really a great way to start our meal.

We chose three items to share,
Coriander Chicken, Sizzling Black Pepper Beef and Vegetarian Fried Rice.

I must confess, I had to stop  myself from gobbling it all up myself instead of sharing.
Every dish was just so full of flavour and made you want to eat more and more.

First the chicken…
et6
I know some people don’t like Coriander. I don’t get it, but I know it.
This was very heavy on the coriander which just lifted this dish. The chicken was tender and everything else on this plate just married so nicely together.

My favourite of the night though was definitely the sizzling beef.

et4
Our waiter brought it to our table and did the final preparations before placing it down, sizzling heavily, on our table. It smelt so divine!!! And honestly, I don’t know how they get their beef to be so tender! It was just a pleasure to eat.
It was definitely a different flavour combination to the chicken, yet was equally, if not more flavoursome in its own way. I could have had double this serve on my own but had to show restraint! The mushrooms were definitely a stand out.

Finally the fried rice was again, just perfect fried rice.

et5
Again I tried to think of what they could have done to improve it and really, there was nothing! It was not too full of ingredients and there was a slight smokiness to it all.
I could have had a full serve of this to myself too!!

We were really in raptures over everything and as mentioned, by the time we left, the place was full and buzzing! I’m glad we’d got there early, enabling us to have a bit of a chat with our waiter. The fact that he was passionate about the food they produce was evident.
I really can’t wait to go back again!

 

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

Till next we chow…

 

Alma Tavern

Today on the Dining Diaries,

We venture past a point we hadn’t gone before,
Hubby eats cous cous and actually loves it
We don’t have a Mark Ricciutto sighting but there’s always next time!

almafrontDiners today we were at The Alma Tavern on Magill rd at Norwood.

We have actually been here a few times in the past ten years or so but each time we walk to the restaurant part, we look in, then turn and walk away. It just hasn’t felt like a place we wanted to dine in. I may be a little unfair to the Alma in saying this as it wasn’t anything I could put my finger on, it just didn’t do it for us.

However as I had recently heard a few good things about it and being a Mark Ricciuto fan (part owner and ex Adelaide Crows Captain) I wanted to go down and see for myself.
I’m so glad I did!

The Alma has a great outdoor bar area. Lots of screens showing different sports and great seating with good music playing. We walked through there to get to the restaurant.
This time, instead of turning the corner into the restaurant and turning to walk back out again, we actually went in. alma1

A really nice guy met us and showed us to a booth. I can only describe him as a young blonde Mr Bean. A very lovable Mr Bean! He was so helpful and polite.
So far so good!

The dining room was really comfy and bright. Lovely soothing colours.

We felt comfortable right away.

The menu had some really fantastic options on there and I was having a little trouble choosing.
We ended up starting with Panne – warm crunchy bread loaf with Adelaide Plains extra virgin olive oil & whipped butter

img_7185Bread is just bread right? WRONG! This bread was delightfully warm and doughy yet crunchy on the outside and it was a decent serve.

The olive oil was just too good. I ended up having my bread just dipped in that while hubby had the whipped butter (hidden in the pic)

I was really excited for the mains now. I’d been watching other food come and it and it all looked so good! Most of the food I’d been seeing was really well presented and colourful on the plate so it made me wonder what ours was going to look like.

Hubby ordered the CHAR-GRILLED LAMB & CHORIZO SKEWERS –  SA lamb & smoked chorizo skewers with capsicum & Spanish onion & lemon, served on a fresh tomato, cucumber, Kalamata olive cous-cous salad with charred lemon, honey mint yogurt & beetroot crisps

img_7184

This photo doesn’t do it justice. What you see on top are the beetroot crisps. That was the first thing he (and I because I just had to) ate and they were soooo good!! So crispy, full of beetroot flavour and sweet! I could go through a plate full of those easy!
Hubby said his meat was really tender and tasty. What I was most surprised about, was that he ate the cous cous! He normally turns his nose up at cous cous and thinks it not to be real food. This was just exceptional though, especially with a bit lemon squeezed through. The salad with tomato and spinach was really nice too. Those tomatoes were also sooo sweet and it was just all so fresh and begging you to eat it! Well done Alma!

I didn’t have diners envy though because mine was just as good and maybe even better.
I chose the CRISPY SKIN ATLANTIC SALMON – pan seared Tasmanian salmon dusted with mixed dukkah spice, served with a spiced beetroot puree, lemon & herb cous-cous, topped with a tomato, sweetcorn & coriander salsa, orange aioli & charred lime

img_7183
Everything about this was perfect. Look how pretty it is on the plate. It was well presented and the quality of all the ingredients could not be faulted. That was definitely the crispiest skin I’ve eaten and it had so much flavour in there! The salmon itself was exquisite. Honestly, I can’t praise this dish enough. It was just heavenly.

Whenever hubby and I have an experience like this where everything has been amazing, I just have to tell the servers because I don’t know that they usually get that kind of feed back. I imagine they probably get a lot of comments about what people didn’t like. Give praise where praise is due I say!

So we didn’t see Mark Ricciuto this time, but I’ll keep listening to his morning radio show with Ditz Ditts and I’m sure there will be a next time!

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

Till next we chow…

The Union

Today on the Dining Diaries…

We’re Knock, Gnoch, Gnocching on heavens door,
I have Coriander; that wonderful burst of flavour that says “surprise I’m here!”
We experience beef two ways – Tender and/or chewy with a touch of gristle.

union-hotelHello fellow diners, today we were at The Union Hotel – That wonderful little pub on Waymouth Street in Adelaide’s CBD.

It was about 2pm on a Saturday afternoon so I called ahead to make sure they were still serving. We had come here a couple of weeks ago on a Sunday only to find they don’t open on a Sunday! That was a bit of a shock…

After calling I learned they were serving lunch till 3pm so that was good for us! When we got there we found there was only one other table being used.

I thought that was a bit sad because it looked like a really nice place. It was a clean and comfortable dining area and the staff seemed friendly and ready to help.

We sat inside although they do have a nice outdoor eating area too – too bad there’s a carpark that adjoins it though I’m sure it would bring nice shade in Summer.

We decided to start with a bowl of wedges because we like eating wedges!
Unfortunately, although the wedges themselves were crisp and fresh, the amount of chili sauce and sour cream did not match the amount of wedges!

fullsizerender-30
Hubby and I made it work though by agreeing I wouldn’t have any chili sauce or sour cream.
It’s called compromise – Next time it’s my turn!

For main, hubby ordered Chilli Chorizo Gnocchi- Pan Fried Potato Dumplings, Chorizo, Capsicum, Garlic, Sofrito, Black Olives, Baby Spinach & Aged Parmesan

I was a little shocked but glad he was exploring foods he wouldn’t normally order.

I went for the Beef & Cashew Stir Fry – Asian Vegetables, Garlic, Chilli & Coriander

The food came out relatively quickly. I was a bit surprised that they didn’t come to check how our meals were going, given that they had so few people in the dining room. It did feel a bit lonely out there I have to say! Glad there was music playing….

fullsizerender-29
Both dishes looked pretty magnificent when they came out.

Hubby’s gnocchi was just so delicious!

I even got to try one!

It was like a little pillow of softness in my mouth.

They were just so tasty.
It’s not always easy to get gnocchi right and these were really cooked well.

Hubby really enjoyed the strong spicy and delicious flavours.

He would have wished to have had a bit of a bigger serve but that’s only because we like to eat big!

fullsizerender-28
I rushed taking this picture of mine because I just wanted to dig into it!  It smelled so good!

The first bites were just magical. Tender beef with glorious explosions of coriander! I’d forgotten that coriander had been mentioned in the menu description and was pleasantly surprised.

The other thing that was mentioned on the menu were cashew nuts and unfortunately I don’t think there were enough of these but maybe that’s because I really really really love cashews!

The more I ate, the more I realised the meat was a bit hit and miss. Some pieces were juicy tender while others were tough and chewy and a couple even had gristle on them.
It didn’t stop me from enjoying this dish though as the sauces and spices really made for a great taste and it’s not something I usually order.

I’ve been to The Union after work a few times and have always found the staff to be friendly. They have pizza specials through the week and a few times when I’ve been there they’ve even brought out pizza samples to encourage people to order them.
What I ate seemed pretty good and I would probably get one if I found myself there during the week.

All in all I would recommend the Union if you’re wanting a nice casual meal and I’m sure I’ll be back in the not too distant future!

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

Till next we chow…