St Francis Winery

Today on the Dining Diaries…

Potential elegance awaits,
Pretty food wows diners and
The specials boards entices us to eat things we wouldn’t normally….

898718-st-francis-wineryDiners today we made a trip to St Francis Winery which is on Old South Rd at Reynella.
The website says the Winery was established around 1852 and if you’d like to know more about the history of the property I’d encourage you to have a look through their website.

As for us, we were just having lunch today although it is a perfectly picturesque place to have a wedding or other function. In fact, I must mention I remember coming here a few years ago when I was part of a female barberhop quartet and singing at one of those functions!

As you walk into the main dining area you get a feeling that you’re walking into an elegant room. On closer inspection you notice that perhaps it could do with a complete refurbishment. The furniture and carpets look a little dated but what this room does have going for it are the pretty green views from the large windows.

The staff were very courteous and guided us to a table. The menu had some really interesting things on there, including a share plate as part of their “specials” board, that had crocodile on there! Well we just had to try that!

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From left we had Peking Duck shanks, Tempura soft shell crab, Salt and Pepper Crocodile and a Crispy Asian Salad. I guess the salad was under the Tempura soft shell crab.

What I loved about this share plate was that we got to try things we wouldn’t have normally eaten. Now I have had crocodile once before, and that was in Cairns. The crocodile on this dish was a much “chunkier” piece and I got to have a good taste. I remembered what I’d said about it the first time I’d eaten it. It seems to have a taste that’s in between seafood and meat. It’s not a tender meat, but it does have a slight seafood taste. It can be tough and stringy and yet there’s something pleasing about it also – That could have something to do with the way it was cooked and flavours that came with it but I really liked it.
The next thing I tried was the Peking Duck. I’m not sure what the “Peking” part actually means but these were cold slices. They tasted ok and as expected were very similar to chicken. It was just a little strange having a cold meat on a dish that had two other hot meats.
The Tempura soft shell crab was also interesting. I must admit it was a lot “mooshier” on the inside than I was expecting. I have no idea what it’s supposed to taste like, I can only comment on what I ate. It was cooked in a very crispy and tasty batter so I enjoyed it, but I can’t say I got to taste a lot of the crab.
The share plate came presented really nicely and again, I’m glad we ordered this and got to try a few things we normally wouldn’t have.

While we waited for our mains I saw other plates coming out, including a few dishes I’d been tossing up between and they looked really good!!! Everything coming out looked so pretty on the plate! I like that they place a lot of importance on presentation, without skimping on the size of the meal.

For main, hubby ordered from the specials board also. He picked the Beef Brisket.
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I noticed this on the specials board too but couldn’t get past a bad experience we had with Beef Brisket at another establishment….
But look at how good it looks! Those vegetables especially!
I offered to trade one of my potatoes for one of those onions on hubby’s plate but he said no way.
He said the meat was tender and had a nice smoky flavour. The vegetables were a great accompaniment and the mash had a nice, subtle, garlic flavour.
I’d probably be more inclined to have this on a cold Winter’s night than a humid Summer day but still, he enjoyed what he had.

For main I chose the Atlantic Salmon
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This Salmon had the best and most crispiest skin I’ve had since I started reviewing. It was really beautiful to eat. If it had been cooked any longer, the Salmon would have been in danger of being too dry but as it was, it was cooked well and had a beautiful colour and taste to it.
I’m not too sure what was on top of the salad but that was nice and fresh. The vegetables were crispy and gave the dish a nice colour variation!

I really liked the way we were treated by the wait staff too. They were present but not so much that it ruined your dining experience.

The one little negative, probably not worth mentioning but I will, was I tried the wine they recommended, and I can’t say I liked it – That’s kind of disappointing when you’re dining at a Winery however it was a minor thing.

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

Till next we chow…

Darwin – Day 2

I slept like a baby last night! Of course it helped that the hotel’s air conditioning was on at full blast.

gum.jpgDarwin doesn’t have daylight saving so it was still quite early when I woke. I remembered the hotel gym opened at 6am so I decided to go down there early and get in some k’s on the treadmill before hubby woke up.

At 6.01am the gym still wasn’t open so I went down to reception to see if perhaps I’d gotten the time wrong.
I wonder if a guest has ever chased the staff about opening the gym before??

Hubby ended up coming down ninety minutes later and after a quick shower, we hopped into the pool to cool down.

We wanted to stay active and looked for a few things to do. We had wanted to go to the Aviation Museum but didn’t want to use a taxi or the bus. It was probably too far to walk with this humidity, so we decided to go to the “Qantas Hangar” instead.

The Hangar was about four kilometres from where we were staying and off we trotted on foot. I think hubby perspired at least ten buckets worth only to find when we got there, that we hadn’t really researched what the Hangar was….
I was more than a little disappointed but oh well, we got to talk to a few locals at the Parap shops and that’s always nice.

We saw a man waiting at a bus stop and asked him how soon the bus was coming. Lucky for us, there was one just about due and while we waited he pretty much told us his life story. Everyone has a story here! It was really interesting talking to him and it made the trip worthwhile.

fullsizerender15The bus took us right back to the Waterfront so we hopped off there to get some lunch. This time we were NOT going to go to the Hot Tamale.

Instead we ended up at Fiddlers Green.

The staff here were fairly friendly. They work hard to entice you in.

Hubby went for a couple of entree’s. SMOKED SALMON BLINIS- Salmon on potato pancakes with dill, Sour cream, capers & red onion jam and a BASKET OF WEDGES – Served with sweet chilli sauce & sour cream


He absolutely loved the potato pancakes. “Why can’t you make them like that?” he asked. Hmmm, I’ll have to try harder. They were really delicious and I know because I was allowed a taste test! I think he allowed it so that I know how to make them….

I went for the THE BOOKIE’S SANDWICH – 150g scotch fillet steak, with onion, tomato Lettuce, mustard mayo & fries

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You just can’t go by a good honest steak sandwich. It was just what I felt like.
The steak was cooked well and the onions and mayo… just yum!
The dining room could do with a bit of refurbishment as a lot of it was looking a bit old and dated.
It was also just a little disappointing that they were so friendly when trying to get us in, but less so when we were actually in there. But, again, you get what you pay for and we couldn’t fault the food.

fullsizerender10After lunch we continued walking and found ourselves walking past Northern Territory’s Living Marine Educational Discovery Centre where outside the building it’s advertised as being Darwin’s most interesting attraction with a quality coffee shop.

I didn’t take a picture of the Quality Coffee shop sign OR the Coffee shop itself… which is really too bad. I can vouch for it though because I saw a percolator on the counter.

Eventually we walked back to our room, changed into our bathers and spent a good hour in the hotel pool along with a couple of other guests.What a nice way to cool down!

We decided to visit Sky City Casino for dinner so after a bit of a nap  refreshing ourselves in our room, we walked to the Casino.


There are a few restaurants to choose from but hubby couldn’t go past the buffet.
We walked in and asked if we could look at the food before deciding if we’d eat here. Is that weird? The server kind of looked at us strangely so I guess she hasn’t been asked that question before!


We saw SO MUCH seafood! We don’t even really eat seafood but we saw enough to know that this was the place for us.

What we did eat was so very tasty! It was really hard to slow down and enjoy but we forced ourselves because we wanted to try a little bit of everything.
My favourite was probably the special fried rice.
They topped up the food regularly and ensured everything we were having was fresh.
The views from the restaurant were quite pretty too!

Unfortunately, where our table was located, we were not able to enjoy the view with our dinner.

What we did have however, was a birds eye view of the dessert table, complete with a chocolate fountain!

It definitely was a hit with the children!
What I loved about the desserts was that they were all small serves so we got a few things between us to share.
They also had a bread and butter pudding. One diner lamented the absence of custard to go with it “How can they have a bread and butter pudding without custard???” she exclaimed to me.
I just shrugged. There was cream and ice cream so that was good enough for me.

We finished off the night with a bit of luck at the Black Jack table. Hubby doesn’t do that often and I’m always nervous when he does but it usually works in his favour.

I don’t have a full day’s worth to make a “Day Three” post but it was pretty funny to see our taxi driver flirt shamelessly  with hubby on the way to the airport. It was like I wasn’t in the car at all!! I’m half expecting a facebook friend request to come through for hubby from the taxi driver… I mean there’s friendly and friendly….

I also have lots to tell you about the Qantas Club lounge that we were lucky enough to use. Qantas club, Business class tickets… I could get used to this life!!

So we survived a couple of days in Darwin during the wet season.
Have you been there?
What your experience been like? I’d love to know!!

Spoon You Fork Me/The Dining Diaries will be returning in the regular format from Monday the 16th of January.

Thanks for reading!

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…

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

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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

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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…

Fedoras Restaurant

Today on the Dining Diaries…

We saw carpet, didn’t run, and experienced one of the best meals we’ve had in a while
We dine in an elegant and spacious dining room and
I’ve learned that a good Pork Belly is the true way to a man’s heart.

fedoraDiners today we were at Fedora’s Restaurant, just a short drive west out of the city’s CBD

From the moment I called to make the booking to the moment we walked out the door, they gave exceptional service.

I called late Saturday morning to make the booking and wasn’t sure we were going to get in. The person who answered had to speak to a manager and said he’d call me back. I really didn’t expect a call but true to his word, five minutes later he called back and we were in!

There were four of us dining tonight. The carpark was full but they have an attendant stationed there to let people know where else they can park and quickly stop anyone who mistakenly think they can park in the permit only areas on the streets nearby and not get a fine.

fed1We walked into a warm and spacious dining area. The smells hit us right away and I was so eager to see what the food would be like. I must admit being a little apprehensive when I saw carpet but there wasn’t a salad bar so I had no cause to be afraid!

I took the photo later in the evening but when we arrived, the place was full!! Yet the ambiance was such that we were able to have a conversation and be heard.

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I have to point out that salt on the table. You may remember when we were at “The Republic”  they had a similar salt bowl but no accompanying spoon. I like this idea much better…

I thought there was a good variety on the menu and was keen to try something a little different.

I noticed that with many menu items, you could choose “add ons” and create exactly the meal you want to have. I love that idea and have noticed more and more places are doing this.

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We decided to share a couple of entree’s to start.

Hahndorf Chorizo and a Japanese Entree Plate.

This was the first thing I sampled and oh wow!

The flavour hits you right away!

The chimi churi had such a kick!

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The other entree was the Japanese Entree Plate

Yakitori chicken skewers, vegetarian gyoza, salmon & nori rolls
I can’t emphasise it enough, everything on this plate was divine. From the nori rolls which were warm and gooey on the inside yet crispy and firm on the outer, to the gyoza and the tender and amazingly seasoned chicken. Everything was just to die for.

Now I had a raging hunger and my expectations for the main were very high!

The meals all came out at the same time which is always a plus.

I chose from the “Clean Eats” section of the menu. Vegan Paella but added Prawns which made it not so Vegan anymore.
(saffron rice, sofrito, roast garlic, artichoke, zucchini, roast capsicum & pistachio)

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I can still remember how delicious the prawns were. That was the first thing I tasted. I don’t know what they were cooked in, I tasted something unfamiliar but it was just divine! In fact this whole dish was really just perfect. The rice was crispy in places  and the flavour was amazing throughout. Sometimes you get diner’s envy, sometimes you’re the cause of diner’s envy!

One of our party chose the Chicken Kiev

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I don’t normally have a lot of chicken but this looked really good when it came out! As we know, chicken breast can easily come out dry but she said this was really moist and was cooked perfectly with beautiful flavours throughout… which seems to be the theme of tonight!

The two boys ordered the Pork Belly but with different “add ons”

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Hubby got extra pork and arancini balls with his serve.
They both said that the skin was crispy, (although one serve was definitely crispier than the other) that there was a beautiful flavour throughout and the meat was exceptionally tender and moist.
I had a taste of some of that salad and just LOVED it! It had fennel, coriander and orange. I think that may be my new favourite salad combination!

We were celebrating tonight and honestly couldn’t have asked for anything better.
I was a little surprised that we weren’t asked if we wanted more drinks at any time during the night but that wasn’t really a huge thing for me and if we wanted it, we could have flagged someone down.

The wait staff were all so polite and invested in us having a good time. I cannot recommend this place highly enough and if you do make the trip here, I’d love to know what you think!

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

Till next we chow…