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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Jamie’s Italian

Today on the Dining Diaries…

We are served meatballs that have us reaching for our water/wine
We discover Jamie’s secret…. add breadcrumbs to all your pasta dishes and
We learn that “salt” is a four letter word that is offensive and will certainly NOT be added to any dish!

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Diners today we were at Jamie’s Italian in the Adelaide CBD.

The first time I dined here was with a group of work mates shortly after it opened. I was almost wetting my pants with excitement that night but was completely let down.I was in a party of about eight and of those eight, only one of us enjoyed what they ate (and for the record that dish was the squid ink pasta or something like that)

Hubby had never been here though and some time had certainly past since I’d been here so I thought why not, lets go in and see if anything has changed.

The building is quite magnificent!! No doubt about that! And the moment we walked in we could smell pasta sauce, garlic and Parmesan and it just got us aching to taste that food!
The bathrooms in this place are quite unique too. In fact anyone who’s been there will tell you it’s worth the trip, just to get a look at them!
I took a few pictures when hopefully no one was looking to give you some idea…


The staff were pretty friendly. We looked around and noticed a couple of tables in booths and asked if we could sit in one of them. The waiter said we couldn’t have the corner one (more room) as that was reserved but we could take the smaller table next to us.

The only reason I mention this is that twenty minutes later, a couple who’d been sitting on the other side of that corner table moved themselves over (to have more room) and no one seemed too put out by it so why hadn’t they allowed us to sit there?

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The menu looked to be pretty much the same although there were a few different options on there from when I was here last.

I think it’s also a little pricier than when I was here last but I could be wrong about that too.
One thing that has changed is at least they have SA wine represented on the wine list now! Imagine!

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I love the look of this place. The room is so grand. There lots of “Italian” looking things around from the herbs hanging to the died pasta  in baskets on the side of the room.

They’ve obviously gone to some effort to sell that “Italian” part so why oh why will they not play Italian music in this place?

I had to listen to a mixture of old and new tunes.

I just think it would do so much more for the place and raise the authenticity.

Our dining neighbours on my right were very friendly and after I apologised for ogling their food (I wanted to see what it looked like before I ordered!) told me they’d ordered entree’ size and it actually looked like a decent portion! I was a little surprised as last time I’d been here I thought the portions were small.

j8Emboldened by their food I ordered the  Tagliatelle Bolognese. Hubby went for the Meatball Pappardelle. I noticed that most of their pastas came with “herby breadcrumbs”. I’m not a chef but I just think that’s a strange thing to put in a pasta dish.
Our drinks came by way of an absent minded waiter who plonked the glasses down awkwardly and left us a bit of extra herb on the side of one glass.

Did it come from his hand?
Was the glass unclean?
We’ll never know…

We’d ordered a serve of fries first. If you follow this blog you know that hubby and I do this quite a bit. Usually they range in price from $6-9 and we have enough to share before our main.

This is what we got at Jamie’s for $6.95 – I left the pepper shaker in the picture so you can have some perspective of size.

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Oh Jamie… not cool!!!! I wanted to cry!
The girls on the table to our left (Who we became quite friendly with) got their fries at about the same time and had the same reaction that we did! It was a shame because out of everything we ate, these fries actually had the most seasoning on them, yet they were so tiny.

So after a few fries we were eager for the main

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Above is the Bolognese. It looks pretty good I think. Unfortunately, they don’t give you any bread with their pasta. Bit strange isn’t it? I guess we could have bought some bread but I thought it was pretty much common practice to give you a few slices, especially if you’re ordering a pasta in an Italian restaurant!
The first thing I noticed was the crunch. I wasn’t sure what it was at first and then I realised it was the breadcrumbs. I have to say I’m not a fan. It made the pasta taste a little weird too… or maybe the pasta was just weird? I don’t know. Something just wasn’t right. I didn’t HATE it. I mean I ate it all, but something just wasn’t right.
If you look closely you’ll notice little orange bits in there too… they’re bits of carrot. Yes that’s right, carrots in a bolognese sauce. Not a fan of that either. At least my serve was a decent size though. Hubby was not so lucky.

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It looks pretty on the plate but he too had the crunchy breadcrumbs and he wasn’t a fan of that either. He thought it was bland. In fact so was mine. I’m pretty sure they don’t use salt in this place. I know you can add it but if the pasta or sauce is not cooked in salt it just tastes different. Nothing can make that better.
The meatballs themselves had an interesting taste. I kind of liked the fennel in there but they were sooooooo dry. They were so dry they were hard to swallow. Again, such a shame because at least these tasted good! But they were not pleasant to eat.

I’m really sorry I don’t have a lot of good things to say about Jamie’s. I still think it’s worth a visit, just don’t get your hopes up! The staff, at least some of them, interact well with customers.

We actually spent a good twenty to thirty minutes talking to the lovely girls on the table to my left about how disappointing the food was (oh we were social today!!!) but the funny thing was, when the waiter came to ask how everything was they said “oh yeah good thanks”. 
We all do that but I thought the timing of that question, was pretty funny.

So there you have it – Jamie’s Italian. Good building, Good bathroom, Some good staff but the food leaves a lot to be desired.
Gordon Ramsey where the F*&* are you!!!

Have you eaten at Jamie’s Italian?
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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Moussaka

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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Souvlaki

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…

Pizza e Mozzarella Bar

Today on the Dining Diaries,

We discover pizza in Naples must be just ‘ok’
“Hype” can have a negative affect and
When the moon hits your eye and it ain’t a pizza pie, there’s no amore’ to be found.

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Today the Dining team were in Adelaide CBD.

We have heard a LOT of buzz about the Pizza e Mozzarella Bar situated in Pirie st.
I had even previously tasted a slice or two when a pizza had been taken back to the office by one of my work colleagues and had been impressed.

I had also heard Matt Preston from the Australian version of Masterchef say that this place has the best pizza outside of Naples

I didn’t want to let past experience sway me though, and just wanted to judge my dining experience on the present – as with all my reviews.

My reviews aren’t meant to be a be all and end all, just a written account of my opinions on the day I went into an establishment. FullSizeRender (44)

When you first walk into the Pizza e Mozzarella Bar, you walk into an invitingly warm room. The smell hits you first.

Woodfired pizza’s cooking means there’s a heavenly smokey smell throughout, with hints of garlic and tomato.

FullSizeRender (43)The carpet and mismatched water glasses make you feel like you’re at your nonna’s place.

It definitely whet’s your appetite!

A waiter addressed us as soon as we walked in, set us at a table and explained the specials to us. He was very thorough and persuasive because I ended up choosing the meatball entree that he suggested. Hubby went for the Capricciosa Pizza.
You can also view their menu online which I usually find handy.

When the dishes came to the table I was pretty excited. I could smell the tomato and basil coming from mine and it had been smothered in a gorgeous sauce.
I couldn’t wait to try it!

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The meatballs were pork and veal (from memory) mince and had mozzarella cheese in the middle.

It’s not in the photo but this dish also comes with four slices of continental bread which is just heavenly!! So deliciously fresh and soft.

I started mopping up my sauce with the bread before I’d even tasted the meatball!

That sauce was just divine and probably the best thing I had in this place tonight.

I’m sorry to say that while hubby didn’t have an awful experience with his pizza, he didn’t love it either.

FullSizeRender (46)The dough was really spongy and fresh and tasted great. The only problem was, the centre of the pizza was watery and soggy.

He wasn’t able to pick up a slice. Maybe that’s how they do them in Naples? Although I’ve been to Naples and I don’t remember the pizza’s being like that.

I felt really disappointed for him because I knew he must he was looking forward to having some good pizza.

The pizza had a bit of a rustic look. He also felt like there wasn’t enough toppings. The photo doesn’t really bring out how barren the pizza was. However, I can attest to the fact that in Italy, the pizza’s are like that. Hubby has a Canadian/American background and I’ve seen the way they pile on the toppings over there then smother it was cheese and more cheese. Sadly this pizza was barren however, what was on there DID taste good.
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The music that was playing when we were there was eighties and nineties pop. I would have thought they could have gone for something Italian – something more authentic. It was sometimes a distraction.

I was told they make that beautiful bread I ate in-house and in fact, I could buy some to take home if I wanted.
The restaurant also does cooking classes which may interest some people. Their website gives you more information.

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For the dollars that this place asks, and for the reputation that it has, I would have expected a little more and I’m sorry to say we were a bit disappointed and not entirely full when we left.

After strolling through the city, we went to the Adelaide Central Markets and made everything right again with a couple of treats!

Love the Adelaide Markets!

Have you been to the Pizza e Mozzarella Bar?
What did you think?
Let me know in the comments below!

Till next we chow…