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…

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Casuarina Asian Bistro

Today on the Dining Diaries…

Luke-warm food almost makes us cry
We weren’t asked if we wanted more drinks and that almost made us cry and…
Good spicy food wakens our taste buds and definitely did NOT make us cry!

cas6Diners today we were at Casuarina in the Marion Shopping Centre.

There’s lots to love about this place and honestly I don’t know why I don’t come here more often.

One thing to note, this is not a “fancy” place so don’t expect fancy service. You will wait, but you will get pretty decent food and at a reasonable price.

We were dining on a Tuesday night and it was really quite busy at 6.30pm. My guess is it’s because of cheap Movie night at the Marion cinema’s! Whatever the reason, we were kept waiting at the entrance for a little while.
But that wasn’t too bad.

After a little while a nice waiter held up three fingers – yes that was to ask us if there were three in our party and I nodded enthusiastically and he led us to a table… I wonder which two fingers he would have held up if there had been two in our party.

The first thing you notice about Casuarina is that it’s a bright, modern looking restaurant. Lots of people making lots of noise. It seemed like it was a fun happening place.
The menu looked pretty good and had a nice amount of variety in it.

My two friends and I decided to split a couple of entree’s first. We’d ordered our drinks and food at the same time but for some reason, one entree came out, then five or so minutes later, one main and another entree came out.. and still no drinks. One of my friends had to remind the waiter what we were waiting for which shouldn’t have been necessary.

But onto the food!

The first entree we shared were spring rolls which conveniently for us, came three to a serve.

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While the taste was pretty good, it was immediately noticeable that the inside of the spring roll was cold. Had these been frozen and not left in the fryer for long enough? I don’t know, I was just a bit disappointed however, the flavours were good.

We also shared the Steamed Prawn Dumplings which also conveniently came in a serve of three.

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Now they WERE cooked all the way through and they were just delicious pillows of prawn. I loved everything about them. One of the sauces provided was a chili sauce and I’m glad I didn’t try it because apparently it was quite hot!! My tolerance is normally low but I’d recommend this dish,especially if you like a lot of heat in your food!

We were still waiting for drinks at this point which was a little disappointing… eventually our wine’s came but we were well and truly into our mains by then….

For main one of my companions chose the Char Kway Teow – Rice Stick Noodles with BBQ Pork, Prawn, Fishcake, Egg and Bean Sprouts, wok fried with a dark Soy Sauce.

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She said this had a great flavour throughout. The ingredients seemed fresh and it was just really tasty and enjoyable to eat. All the flavours worked well together.

Another of my companions chose the Green Curry Chicken.

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I had a bit of diner’s envy when I saw this come out!!! It looks pretty amazing! She said it was a perfect curry and just what she needed. It was fragrant and comforting and it was a pretty decent serve too!

I, with absolutely no idea, chose the Mee Goreng.

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I’m not even going to pretend to know what  Mee Goreng is supposed to taste like! All I can tell you is that it tasted great! The only complaint is that it was, like the entree, cold to luke-warm instead of temperature hot. There was a tiny bit of heat in here, just enough to wow my tastebuds and wake up those senses! I did enjoy this dish, I just wanted it to be temperature hotter.

Unfortunately no one came to our table to see how our meals were or to check to see if we wanted more drinks. We would have loved a jug of water! And maybe a sneaky second glass of wine….
I guess it’s a bit  of a “you get what you pay for” thing because the prices at Casuarina are really quite reasonable and most of the food is really good, and if you had to excel at either service or food, I’d probably pick food.

My diners and I hadn’t seen each other for some time so we were happy to gas bag and catch up but it was a bit disappointing that no one asked us if we wanted anything else (dessert) until the restaurant was almost empty and it was obvious they were trying to close up.

All that aside, I would eagerly come here again, even with the cold food, as I think they do a fantastic job and I just loved the flavours I experienced tonight.

I’d love to know what regular eaters of Asian foods think of this place!

Have you been to Casuarina?
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…