Walkers Arms

Today on the Dining Diaries

Empty dining rooms leave a lump in our throats,
An interesting menu makes selection hard and
Can a vegetarian dish really cost over $25?

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Diners today we found ourselves at Walkers Arms on North East Rd.

I have so many memories of Walkers Arms before the restoration. That is, when it still had the buffet restaurant with those delicious selections that you could avail yourself of, over and over and over again. It was a gluttons wet dream. It definitely was my favourite all-you-can-eat restaurant in Adelaide!

But like anything else in life, things change.

Hubby and I knew there no longer was a buffet part to this restaurant but were still interested to see how it had changed since it’s refurbishment. And as we liked the buffet food, the a la carte menu food had to be good too right?

We were struck by how few people were around as we entered. This place was hustling and a bustling on a Sunday in the past!!! In the past…. when the buffet was still happening… Today only a handful of tables were occupied and it was a Sunday afternoon. That can’t be good for anybody…


The picture on the right shows the now empty buffet dining area. I’m not to sure what the plans are for this area but it was sad to see it sitting there not being used. No doubt they will do something amazing with this space in the months to come…

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Hubby and I got a nice, heated, spot outside (pic on far left above) and started off with the classic, Salt and Pepper Squid with aioli and lemon

I thought this wasn’t bad value for money. The Squid had a nice texture to it and the aioli and lemon were just perfect.

It was a great way to whet our appetites.

The menu was pretty good. It had your usual pub fare plus a few different things. I was a bit undecided as to what I was going to have for mains but ended up choosing the Vegetable Tagine – Seasonal vegetables in Moroccan style sauce, cous cous, labna, preserved lemon, mint and dates.

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I thought there were beautiful flavours throughout. The vegetables were just gorgeous in the Moroccan sauce. The lemon was unexpected and added a bit of zing in your mouth. I enjoyed this dish a lot but I wasn’t sure if $25 was too expensive for a vegetarian dish. I know there’s a lot of work/elements that go into it, but when you consider that you can get a beef or chicken parmigiana for under $20 it seems a little over priced but maybe I’m wrong.  In any case I did enjoy it so I didn’t mind.

Hubby decided to go for the ribs. Unfortunately I couldn’t find them on their online menu so I can’t tell you how they were described on there.

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I thought they looked great when they came out! Hubby got that glazed over look again and could barely wait for me to take a photo before digging in.

He said they were very tasty. The sauce was kind of sweet but also had a tanginess to it.
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I wanted to see the inside after he’d cut into it and had to take a pic because it looked so good!

That even makes MY mouth water and I don’t usually go for ribs!

With regards to the empty tables, I hope what hubby and I saw on this day wasn’t the norm for Walkers Arms as the food was pretty good and I’d hate to see people not coming here anymore just because the buffet is no longer here.

In fact, I’m looking forward to going back and trying a few different items from the menu or I’d go back even just to sit outside in the comfy outdoor area and watch a game of footy on their big screen TV’s.

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

Till next we chow…

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Our Place

Today on the Dining Diaries…

Lunch turns into dinner…
Exceptional food is served over an exceptional time and
We are dazzled by the beauty of an Adelaide hills backdrop

Diners today we were at “Our Place” in Willunga. I really want to start off by saying “wow” but I should start at the very beginning….

I can’t say it’s an easy place to get to. It was a forty minute drive from Westfield Marion.
Even once we saw the place looming in my Google Maps, I still couldn’t work out which building it was until I saw a faded sign that said “Our Place” and screeched “turn here, turn here!!!” to hubby. It was very hard to spot as it’s just a modest “house” from the road and if I hadn’t seen the sign, I wouldn’t have known that was it.

We parked the car and instantly were struck by the beauty of the surrounding landscape.


The photos don’t do it justice. There were a few “hearts” etched into the grass which I thought was a nice romantic gesture on someone’s part but we never found out the story behind that.

We walked into the building and here’s were modesty stopped.
We went from oooing and ahhing over the landscape to oooing and ahhing over the interior.
There were just too many things to look at.

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The photo above is part of a balcony area which was quaint and had a lot of charm in its own way.

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This was our table and as you can see, we had views of the surrounding landscape (above) and views of that serene indoor pond (below)

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So the way that this place works is that you don’t order food – You pay a set price and they bring food of their pleasing to you. They start of with a few “antipasto” type items and gradually evolve to dinner and dessert. We were told to arrive at 12 midday for drinks and that food would start to be served around 12.30.

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We were getting quite anxious for food by the time the first tray started coming around.

I’m not really sure what this was but it was made from chick pea and it was pretty tasty but had a texture I wasn’t familiar with.

I must admit, we kind of looked at each other at this point and said “is this sizing an indication of the portion sizes to come?” but we kept being reassured that there was plenty of food to come.

fullsizerender12The next tray they brought round had pizza on it. Good, authentic style Italian pizza!! That means it had a good spongy dough with a little crunch to the crust and little toppings but a good amount of good quality tomatoes.

It was just divine!! The server allowed us to take a couple of pieces then walked away. We must have been in starvation mode because we kept looking at other tables and other diners and wondering if they’d been given more than us. The server did come back and asked if we wanted more. Not two seconds past before we were all standing and grabbing another two pieces from the tray.
She then stated that it was really only supposed to be one piece for each person… whoops. My question was, well then why did she come back to the table?? We can’t help it if we’re hungry and the food is gooooooood!!

At 1.05pm, our host Andy Clappis took the microphone and addressed us. I felt like we were at a wedding reception without a bride and groom! He told us a little history of “Our Place” and told us about the food that was to come. One thing that shone through was his passion! The love of family and food was a constant theme during our afternoon.
In fact Andy was so passionate that at one point, he actually stopped and asked a naughty table whose occupants were talking to stop talking so they could hear him explain to them about the food.

So we’ve had the talk now, please bring us more food!!!
img_7658The next thing they brought out was the most delectable bread I’ve had in a very long time.

It was fresh out of the oven. Deliciously warm and that crust was crunchy!! There was olive oil on the table or butter if you preferred.

When the server brought ours we asked, “Can we have a knife to cut it?” and she replied “No, just break some off with your hands” and so that’s what we did…
With the bread they brought a Baccala spread (Dried and salted Cod) It was soooo good but clearly not enough as it didn’t last longer than a few seconds on my table.
I was happy with the bread and olive oil though so I didn’t mind!

fullsizerender9The next dish was veal.

I’ve not had it like this before so it was something new to me.

The veal itself was sliced thinly and very tender.

The mayonnaise was tuna based and very thick.

Most people on our table liked it but I can’t say that I was one of them.

Of course, that just comes down to personal preference. I can see that it had been made well.

Because we didn’t know what was still coming, and because the serves had been teeny tiny, we were really wondering if we were going to be leaving hungry and this seemed to be a constant topic at my table.
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The next tray had bocconcini with fennel on it.

This plate was to serve seven people and I took the photo before anyone had taken any of it.

So while everything on this plate was divine, we didn’t really all get to try some.

I didn’t get any bocconcini and some people missed out on the fennel.

I think we all got a wedge of tomato….

The next tray was Squid!
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Again, there was nothing wrong with the food.

in fact it was pretty delicious but this plate was for the seven of us.

I’m not big on squid so I gave mine to hubby who greedily ate it.

If we had known what was coming, we might not have been so frantic for food but so far, what we’d seen was small serves and quite long wait times between trays.

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After the squid Andy got on the microphone again and addressed the room.

They had discovered that about five people in the room were celebrating birthdays so they got them up to “carve” the Turkey we’d be eating later.

It was these kind of things that made the afternoon special and I have to applaud Andy for that because apart from having to pay for your meal, you’d think you were at some family event.

So after a little while, they brought out this amazing Mushroom Risotto. I mean it was just to die for! I could smell it before it even arrived at the table and it was just sooooo good.  The rice was cooked perfectly and there was such a gorgeous creamy consistency throughout.

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The server must have seen how gluttonous we were though because she came back a few minutes later and asked if we wanted another dish of it to share. “Yes please” was the resounding answer.
Unfortunately another table was asked if they wanted another dish of the risotto but when the server when to get it,  there were no more left for them…. So that’s not really good planning is it?

The gnocchi came out next and this was another portion disappointment.

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We actually had to measure these out and everybody on my table got three each.
Three
One, Two, Three…. all gone.
What was there was really nice. That sauce was definitely the best thing about it.

By now we’re starting to get tired and to be honest, a little fed up. I kind of think they would have done better to have served a few dishes all at once so we could have filled our plates and at least feel like we’d eaten something. We just felt like we’d been picking at bits and pieces all day and I never expected to still be waiting for a main at 4pm.

The turkey and vegetables did seem to take a very long time to come.

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Turkey was fine and I couldn’t complain about the size of it. In fact Andy himself came around a bit later and was filling people’s platters up a little more so that was nice.

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The vegetables were delicious and drizzled in that gorgeous olive oil. We got two plates of vegetables for our table which was nice.

A few people had to leave so the server gave them some of the dessert (cannoli) to take with them.
At 4.30pm there were only two of us at my table and we were simply waiting for the dessert. It had been a long afternoon!!!
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We were told if we wanted coffee we had to go get it from the bar so off I went to stand in that queue to order us some coffees….

A short black is still the best way to finish of any meal in my opinion!! Even better without sugar. Just let the natural coffee taste do what it’s supposed to do.

And still we waited for the Cannoli…. When I saw them coming out, instead of being on individual trays being brought out to different tables, they were just on one very large tray and one guy was taking that around to everyone.
fullsizerenderNeedless to say, it was going to take ages!!!

So I got up and got some for our table.

They were amazing.

The crust was light and crunchy and the centre was a creamy custard with a lemon tang.
I just wish I was in the mood to enjoy it more.
By this point I was just stuffing it in my mouth so I could say I’d had it and we could get on out of there!

I think if we had known this was going to be an event that covered over five hours, I may have been more up for it but by the end I just wanted to go.
I couldn’t fault anything I’d had and the hosts couldn’t have been nicer!! You just have to realise that if you come to “Our Place” it’s not just a meal, it’s an event or an experience.

I would definitely recommend going because the food itself is a marvel and it’s made with so much love and passion that really comes through. You just have to be the type of person that knows how to relax away the afternoon.
Sadly I think our culture had moved away from this.

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

Till next we chow…

Hoosegow

Today on the Dining Diaries…

Fat chips are my new best thing
The hostess became my new best friend and
We learnt Wagyu Rump can be the best meat and is also served with the best fat.

hg2.jpgDiners today we finally made it to Hoosegow!

This is proving to be a popular place! I had heard so many good things about it that when we finally made it my expectations were super high.

I called to make a reservation and Shadia was so lovely on the phone. I had to call her back later to amend the time and she didn’t seem bothered by it and thankfully it didn’t affect our booking.
When we arrived she spoke to me by name like we were long friends. In fact all of the wait staff were friendly but not overbearing. They all wanted you to have a great time and to feel comfortable and at home.

hg1The front looks pretty unassuming but what a difference when you get inside!

It was elegant, dim lighting, lots of dark colours and interesting things to look at.
That photo of the interior was not mine but one I found on the internet – I’m always a bit hesitant to put up photos with other diners in them.

img_7629Each table had at least one candle on it.

A lot of the reviews I’d read mentioned that they’d received complimentary something or other when they arrived, and given the prices at Hoosegow, I’d think that would be a nice gesture but unfortunately we didn’t. But that’s ok.

The menu is not large but again I prefer a smaller menu that the kitchen staff can do well, over a large menu with lots of choices that the kitchen staff struggle to keep up with.

I have to mention this also, when we walked in, they were playing “Pink Martini” who I absolutely adore!! Poor hubby had to sit there and wish he was somewhere else while I excitedly sang along with some of the tunes…

We ordered our food and watched other dishes coming out. The aromas were just to die for! The food looked pretty good too! I noticed the relationship between kitchen and wait staff seemed pretty good. They were very busy but there were no frowns… they were just quickly doing what they were supposed to be doing, working together. I hate seeing a stressed kitchen.

For entree we ordered the Mexican Chilli Squid with Charred Cos Lettuce.

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I must admit when it came out we were a little disappointed because it looked so small. Just a tiny piece of squid for $14 but honestly , the taste was just divine. That squid was cooked perfectly. The cos lettuce also had so much flavour!!! I could have had a couple of those for my dinner alone!
I had to be careful not to eat any of those red chili bits as they were hot hot hot!
It was a great start to the night.

For main I chose Guajillo Lamb Backstrap, couscous chickpea and herb salad, toasted pecan nuts

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I haven’t had backstrap before so I wasn’t sure what it was going to taste like. The server told me that it’s quite a lean meat and I normally love lamb so I thought I’d try it. It was just melt in your mouth delicious! And I don’t know what their cooking process is but that lovely charchoal taste was throughout the meat and it was such a pleasure to eat.
I love the way it was presented on the plate too with that cute mound of cous cous.
It looked like a small serve but the meat was actually quite filling.

Hubby chose the MS5 Wagyu Rump 350gm served with fat chips and a smoked spicy tomato relish

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When it first came out I thought “wow”!! That looks amazing!
The chips were soooo nicely seasoned and the tomato relish was tasty and a nice accompaniment. The meat was tender and flavoured beautifully.Another great taste sensation from Hoosegow.
The only thing that bothered us was the enormous amount of fat.
fullsizerenderYou can’t see it in the picture above, but I took another picture when hubby was halfway through his meal.

There was still more fat to come.

A server came to ask how our meals were so I said “Is it normal to have that much fat?” And she said yes.
The answer seemed scripted so I guess she must get asked that quite often. I know wagyu is marbled meat, but I’ve had it before and I just don’t remember having that much fat on it. Hubby thought maybe it was because he’d asked for it to be cooked medium rare so the fat hadn’t drained out? I don’t know, but it made what seemed like a big piece of steak reduce to half the size.

We weren’t upset by it, and everything else was absolutely perfect but if anyone has any knowledge about this I’d love to hear your comments.

Hoosegow is a little on the pricier side but the service and food you’re going to get is definitely above average so it would be a great place to celebrate a special occasion.

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

Till next we chow…

The Pink Pig

Today on the Dining Diaries…

We enter a place that would terrify the strongest vegetarian,
We see yet again that the ratio of food to sauce provided is not right!!
I get to watch a hot young waitress try to put a bib on hubby….

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Diners tonight we were at The Pink Pig! The Pink Pig Wine Bar is an iconic establishment in North Adelaide.

I remember walking past there many times seeing that smiling pig on the outside, and wondering what was happening behind those doors.
Tonight I got to find out….

The restaurant is actually quite large! It’s a little deceiving because the front is not overly huge and I’ve never really been able to see inside. I’m not sure how many people it actually accommodates but you could easily have a larger party there.
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The lighting was pretty dim (hence my poor quality photos) and there was contemporary music playing. Staff were really friendly and when I said I had a booking the server spoke to me as if he’d been expecting me. Well I guess he HAD been expecting us but I felt very welcome and wanted.

He left us to look over the menu which I found to be a little intimidating. I had gone through the menu online earlier in the day and nothing really jumped out at me as I’m not a huge meat eater. I figured I’d see what I felt like on the night…
But if you are a meat eater, you would love this menu.
Did you notice the little piggy on the front of the menu? In fact there were little piggies all throughout the restaurant.

On first glance things seem a little overpriced but then I don’t know the quality of what I’m going to get so I didn’t want to judge anything too soon.

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There were four in our party and we placed our order with a nice young waitress.

I looked around to try to see other people’s food but they were either finished or waiting for their food also.

The decor made me feel like we were sitting in an Italian restaurant – minus the red and white tablecloths.

The area behind the bar looked pretty interesting too. It was hard to capture because the lighting was so dim in there.


After we’d ordered, a hot young waitress came up to the table and said “Ok who ordered the ribs?” and hubby cautiously says he did.

She then proceeded to put a bib on him that said “You need our bibs to eat our ribs”

 

 

Hubby was not impressed. At least he allowed me to take the photo above but as soon as that was done, that bib was off. However after that happened, I looked around and saw a few other people were wearing those bibs!! How messy was this going to get??

By this time we’d also seen a few meals coming out and they looked soooo good!! I was really really eager to try mine.

We’d ordered some garlic bread to come out first and asked the waitress if the serve was enough for the four of us and she said “Oh yes! There’s six slices in there” but what we got were six tiny little slices and while they tasted good and the garlic was strong but not overpowering, I felt like I’d only just had a bite and it was gone.

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My main was one of the first to come out – Thai Beef Salad – Mixed salad w. a spicy Thai chilli dressing
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I’m sorry the photo is so bad. It was really difficult to capture in that light.
I have to say this was really really delicious. The meat was soooooo tender I could almost hear an old crooner serenading me as I ate it… I had to force myself to leave it till last so I could end off with that taste and concentrated on the salad first. The dressing was pretty good although the menu does say spicy Thai chili dressing and I don’t think it was very spicy at all (and I normally have a low tolerance for that sort of thing) I would have preferred for the tomatoes to have been cut a little smaller though. I know I can cut them myself but they were huge horse like chunks and it was just awkward.

Hubby, as we know, went for the Pork Ribs – Oven baked in our famous spicy sauce, served w. pickled slaw

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There’s supposed to be fourteen pieces in there. It’s a really bad photo once again (sorry) Hubby was disappointed with this dish. You have to remember he’s coming from a restaurant background himself AND he is the rib KING even if he hasn’t made them in years. He said while they were tasty, they weren’t falling off the bone and stated that he could make a better rib with his eyes closed – and that readers, is actually something I can attest to!  So while he didn’t hate it, it wasn’t as good as it could have been and remember, the prices at The Pink Pig are a little higher than other places we’ve gone to.

I had been tossing up between the Thai Beef Salad and the Risotto Fungi, and another member of our party chose that so I was able to see what it would have looked like.

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I had a bit of diners envy when I saw it as it looked pretty good! She said that it was a very tasty dish. The rice wasn’t stodgy and the tomato in there gave the dish a lift and made it really very refreshing.

The last member of our party chose to have the Salt and Pepper Squid salad but when the meal came out, it wasn’t the S & PS Salad but the Salt and Pepper dish.The difference being the amount of squid to salad I guess – Oh, and the price..

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It was a generous serve of squid and he just went with it but they also charged us for the more expensive dish which I think they probably shouldn’t have. I also wonder why, when you’re paying more than average prices for a dish like this, they don’t just chuck in some fries on the side?
Did you notice the tiny little bowl of aioli? It didn’t take long for that to finish and there was still quite a bit of squid left. Why do restaurants do this?? I find it so annoying. It’s just a little thing that doesn’t cost the restaurant much but can go a long way in pleasing the customer. The squid themselves tasted ok but it was just regular pub fare and we were not in a pub.

I do think the Pink Pig is worth a visit even just to say that you’ve been there. The food we had ranged from ok to really good so I guess it just depends on what you order on the day. All the staff that interacted with us were really friendly and helpful and into their jobs, not just going through the motions.
We may even visit again one day in the next twenty or so years…..

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

Till next we chow…..

 

Benjamin on Franklin

Today on the Dining Diaries we find out that…

A bagel trumps a brioche bun when it comes to burgers
I don’t like being called “darling” by someone I don’t know, even if I am rather sweet & darling and
Sitting next to a window that looks into the kitchen is like driving past an accident – You can’t look away even though you know you may not like what you see.

20150122_122906.jpgDiners today we were at Benjamin on Franklin. This is not to be confused with “The Franklin Hotel” which is also on Franklin Street in the CBD.

It was a lovely warm “end of Winter” day and the Benjamin makes good use of that by having indoor, outdoor and an atrium eating area. We chose to sit in the atrium in relative comfort but still being able to see the sun outside and feel the fresh breeze tickle our skin.

It took us a little while to get to our table though because there was no staff ready to greet us as we came in and we stood around like lost sheep. Eventually I asked if we just take our own menu’s and find a table ourselves and the young girl said “Oh no darling, I’ll take those and show you to a table”. I couldn’t really blame her as she was busy behind the counter when we came in but surely they saw that we looked lost and someone could have told us that they’ll be with us in a minute? And “darling”??? Yes I’m rather sweet but unless you’re older than me or my husband, please don’t call me darling. In her defense, I’m sure she was just trying to be nice.

I loved the decor of this place – I’m not sure what it’s called but there was wooden furniture and exposed brick.

ben8We were seated next to a window that looked into the kitchen.
At first I was really excited, but then I became a little anxious that I was going to see something I didn’t like. I didn’t have to worry though as everything was going pretty smoothly in there. In fact we saw lots of yummy food and wondered if we’d made the right choices ordering what we did! The parmigiana’s alone were massive and there were a lot of them going out! They seemed to have a really good system in there.

ben5We started off with a duo of dips.

The menu didn’t say what they were and when they were brought to our table we weren’t told either which was a little disappointing.

I did ask when they came to take away the empty plates and was told they were roasted capsicum/semi dried tomato and a corn salsa one.

I preferred the corn salsa while hubby liked the capsicum dip so that worked out well!!

They were both really tasty and had a lovely consistency.

The bread was also warm and toasty.
A really nice way to start a meal.

There was groovy jazz music playing while we ate which also really gave the place a nice atmosphere. I was glad we’d chosen to come here today.

Now onto the mains! The menu was pretty good in this place. While they did have a lot of pub favourites, they put their own spin on things. For example, I chose to have the Corn Fritter Bagel Burger. I LOVE bagels! And yay, finally a place that will give you a burger and NOT put it in a brioche bun! I  also thought a corn fritter burger would be something a little different and interesting so that’s why I chose that.

It turned out to be a really good choice! The first picture is an overhead shot and in the second, I was trying to show the corn fritter.
If I was to say anything negative, and it’s only minor and probably personal, I found that it was difficult to eat as there were two corn fritters in there. But that is really a minor thing and ultimately I like to have more rather than less… but just be warned if you eat this, you may have to pull it apart. I LOVED the bagel. It was everything a bagel should be. This was really a pleasure to eat.

Hubby decided to go for an old favourite, Salt and Pepper Squid.

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He went through a phase where he ordered this all the time but it’s now been a while…
He said everything was seasoned really nicely. That round thing on the bottom left of the photo is actually a caramelised lemon. It looked interesting on his plate but hubby said that it felt a bit slimy and that made it difficult to squeeze over his food.

All in all, I was pretty impressed with this place even if I did get called darling, and would be eager to go back and try different things off their menu. I thought the prices were reasonable, all the staff we interacted with were friendly and there was definitely good stuff happening in the kitchen!!

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

Til next we chow.