East of Norman

Today on the Dining Diaries…

Fat fries rule
Friendly wait staff rule more and
Good food and atmosphere rulest the most!

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Diners today we were at East of Norman, a funky little newish establishment on Sturt St in the city.

I was wondering how this place got its name and then noticed the street a few metres away was indeed called Norman.

Nothing like calling it as it is.

We walked into a room with a great feel. Already there were groups of people enjoying lunch. Modern jazz music was playing and staff greeted us at the door.

I love the industrial look decor. I was told East of Norman has been around for about a year now but this was the first I’d heard of it and I was glad we’d decided to stop in today.

The menu was ok. There were a nice selection of pizzas on there, plus a few share platters and some mains.  I was hoping for a bit more of a selection but if they cook everything they have on the menu as well as what we had today, they’re doing ok!

We started off with our staple…. some fries to share.

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Look at those fat fries!!! There was something really different about them. It was almost like they’d been roasted. They were full and fat and had such a delicious flavour to them. The aioli was creamy and a perfect accompaniment.
I should also add that this was a very generous serve!

While we ate the tables filled with what I presumed to be work groups and it made it seem like we were dining in a very popular place.

For main hubby chose the Wagyu Cheese Burger with chips, aioli, tomato chutney, pickles and smoked cheddar.

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Yes there are more of those gorgeous fat fries on that plate!! He was in heaven!
The first thing hubby said though was although the bread was toasted, it actually seemed cold, but that was his only complaint. He said the burger itself was really delicious. It was like a home made burger that had been barbecued. Everything married up really well including the chutney which surprised him a little. I kept asking if he could taste cheese because I couldn’t see any but he said it was in there!

My first choice was the burger as well but I didn’t want to get the same as him so I decided to go for the Tajine on a whim! Chickpea and Vegetable Tajine with Pizza Bread

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This dish would be a perfect Winter warmer and even though we are in Summer, I just loved every spoonful!!! It had just enough heat to keep things interesting and that sauce was delicious and flavoursome. I kept dipping my Pizza Bread in there to mop it up, not wanting any to go to waste!

By the time we left the place was full. The waitress answered a few questions I had and I gave her some feedback, telling her we really loved everything – especially the fries!
She said a lot of people give the same feedback and it was great to hear.

I would have loved to have tried on of their pizzas. I saw a few on different tables and they looked really good!! I guess that will have to wait for next time.

I’m not really sure who they market themselves too. There are quite a few residential apartments around there so maybe to the residents? And while they are still classified as CBD, there aren’t a huge amount of businesses out there.

Whatever their marketing strategy is, it seems to be working and with their cooking and hosting skills, I’d have no hesitation in recommending East of Norman for your casual work function!

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

Till next we chow…

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Le Riad

neo_img_imgp5747.jpgToday on the Dining Diaries…

Carpet and guns on the walls,
America Ferrera is now waiting tables and
Food that has us saying “we’re coming back” just after a couple of bites.

A “riad” is a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard.

Le Riad is a place that’s almost hidden even though it’s situated on a main road and right by a very popular pub/restaurant. This place had been recommended to me by someone I trust so I was eager to try the food.
They advertise as having real Moroccan cuisine and when I looked at the menu on line, I knew I was going to have trouble ordering as everything sounded good and new (to me)

I wondered if I should even make a booking but when we got there I was glad we did as there was only one table available and that was for us. The place was packed!

The first thing we noticed was the deadened sound. In other places we go to, due to modern decor, every clang and chink is amplified as sound bounces off every surface but at Le Riad, the carpet on the floor and the rugs on the wall deaden it all.
It had me feeling a little unsettled at first!
The next thing we noticed were the guns on the wall. Although this unnerved us a little too, there was still something homey and comfortable about the place. We couldn’t put our finger on it just then but later we noticed that there were both families and couples dining and not one person (bar me) had their phone out! Can you imagine that? In a crowded albeit small restaurant, no one was playing with their phone.
I felt like I’d been picked up and thrown into another time and country.

It was also very red and very dark in there. I tried to take some photos but they were all poor quality, as with pictures of the food I took, there just wasn’t enough light.
Having said that, if your aim is to have a nice romantic dinner and you have no need to photograph your food, then you are in for a treat.

We looked through the menu and on each page I changed my mind about what I was going to eat. Everything seemed so exciting to me! Lots of authentic dishes to choose from.
I ended up ordering the Goat Tajine – Goat and mixed vegetables gently cooked with a mix of Moroccan herbs and spices.
Hubby ordered the Mixed Grill – Lamb, chicken, kefta, merguez sausage, served with hummus and bread.
And just because we wanted to sample more, we ordered Lamb Couscous – A traditional Moroccan dish.Couscous is steamed over spiced lamb and vegetables
I also desperately wanted to try some of the Moroccan bread they had on the menu but sadly they were out.

Our waitress was so lovely, friendly and accommodating and bore a striking resemblance to America Ferrara.

We arrived at the restaurant just before 7.30pm. At 8.18pm I noticed that our food hadn’t arrived yet. In any other place I would have noticed this a lot sooner but there is a lot to take in on your first visit to Le Riad.
You can only see so many dishes of hot steaming food going out to other tables before food envy sets in.
At 8.23 and tummies are really gurgling now… but let me add, we were happy. We weren’t grumpy, we were just more excited to try what we had ordered.
8.26 and America Ferrara look alike comes and sincerely apologises for the wait and offers us free drinks. Now how lovely is that! We hadn’t complained, we were sitting there smiling and talking, yet she still came over with this lovely gesture! Double ticks for that!

Ten or so minutes later our food came. I just love it when the first thing you notice about your food is the smell! It was heavenly and not like anything I had smelt before so it’s a little hard for me to describe. I don’t know what traditional Moroccan spices are.
It was definitely hearty and rich and just what you’d want on a fresh Autumn night.

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Goat Tajine

 

My Goat Tajine was exquisite.

Again, I have to apologise for the picture quality as it was really very dark in there.

Hopefully you can imagine how wonderful this dish was. Rich with flavour and colourful it was very very inviting to eat. I felt like I’d been transported to deliciousness heaven.
The goat was amazingly tender and I had to wonder why we don’t eat this meat more often.

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Mixed Grill

 

Hubby, being a meat lover, ordered the mixed grill and he wasn’t disappointed either.

A nice sized dish with lovely elements. The meat and bread had a charred smokey taste
The hummus was fresh and lovely when eaten with that crispy bread.

.There really wasn’t anything we didn’t like!

 

 

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Lamb Couscous

Lastly we sampled our Lamb Couscous. I must admit, I found it hard to find pieces of lamb but even so, it was equally delicious. The cous cous was light and springy and I loved the burst of coriander I tasted every now and then. I wondered later if I had ordered a chicken cous cous, if it would have given me a different flavour throughout as I didn’t think the lamb taste was particularly strong however still a very enjoyable dish.

All in all we loved our time at Le Riad. The restaurant is comfortable, the wait staff are lovely and I’m pretty sure this is a family run business. They genuinely want you to have a good time and to love the food as much as they do.

On Saturday’s they also have a belly dancer come in and do some belly dancing. It’s a shame we didn’t go on a Saturday! That would have been a treat!

I’m eager to go back and try some more items from the menu.

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

Till next we chow…