Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The Balmoral Hotel, Victoria Park

I have been so busy lately training for the City to Surf that I have had no time left to eat out! City to Surf is now over for the year (12km in 1hr 28mins, not too shabby for my first effort) and checking out the Balmoral with my brother and folks was a nice way of spending a Saturday afternoon.

The Balmoral Hotel was first built in 1932 but is much more than just the old local. It has been beautifully renovated in an exposed/rustic way with exposed brick wall features and gorgeous timber flooring. The verandah spaces offer areas to escape the crowds, i'd like to see more of this within the large open space of the restaurant actually as it has a 'large' dominating presence.

Food service and presentation was great. Food portions were large but of somewhat varying quality. I would prefer smaller meal sizes so that I can enjoy perhaps an entree and a main, or a main and a dessert but it seems as though everywhere I eat now serves such large portions for their mains that you don't need to eat for the rest of the day let alone 'view the dessert menu'.

What was ordered:
1. Graziers Pie - 'tender pieces of graziers steak in rich gravy with mash and peas'
2. Balmoral Squid - 'flower cut squid seasoned with sea salt and lemon pepper, deep fried with salad greens, lemon cheek and a tomato, chilli mayo dipping sauce'
3. Chicken and Leek Pie - 'creamy chicken and leek filling with roasted sweet potato'
4. Wagyu Beef Burger - 'mixed leaves, bacon, egg, cheese, red onion, tomato, beetroot and aioli with chips'

All meals looked fantastic (pictures too come). The Balmoral Squid was tender and seasoned well. The Beef Burger was well cooked, juicy, succulent and was certainly all polished off by my brother. The pies were the let down. The Chicken and Leek was by no means a failure, it just didn't hold a lot of flavour. The steak within the Graziers was tough and dry and the peas were uncooked, the saviour of this dish being the deliciously flaky pastry.

Wrap-up: Easy to while away an afternoon here with a cold beer and some people watching. The food is hit and miss and your best bet is to have a look at what other people are eating...or have one too many beers that you really don't care what you shove down your trap.

Food: 2.5/5
Service: 4/5
Atmosphere: 3/5
Price: 3/5

Balmoral Hotel on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Yoshiya, Perth CBD


I have just found my new favourite Japanese restaurant.

It was on a whim that I decided to have lunch here with a friend of mine. I had been at work all day and needed a break, so organised a catch-up lunch in town (I also had the excuse that I needed to pick up my HBF Runners pack for the fun run). As I was driving along Wellington St about to pull into the carpark at the train station I noticed out of the corner of my eye this little Japanese wasn't hard to convince my friend to try it with me.

I knew as soon as I opened the door that I was onto something good here. Beautifully decorated in a rustic traditional style, very clean, warm and inviting. The orange hue from the lights reflecting off the tables and inviting me to sit down.

Yoshiya has a very generous lunch menu, just enough options to keep you intrigued with the menu but not too much choice to lose and confuse you. I ordered the Sakana-no-teppanyaki (Hot-plate BBQ snapper fillet) as part of a set luncheon that came with rice, miso soup, and fruits. I could have stopped at the miso soup, I was in heaven already but then out came this deliciously succulent piece of snapper with asian greens and soy sauce that was utterly devine. The snapper flaked as my fork touched it and then dissolved in a euphonic of flavours in my mouth.

The slices of orange at the end of the meal nicely freshened the palate.

My friend chose the Gyu-niku-no-teppanyaki (Hot plate BBQ cube size beef fillet steak flambe with brandy) and was also suitable humbled by its delicasy.

You absolutly must visit Yoshiya (and it is very rare that I make that suggestion).

Food: 4.5/5
Service: 4/5
Atmosphere: 4/5
Price: 4/5

Yoshiya Japanese on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 15 May 2011

The Imperial Hotel, York

A gorgeous country pub that was built in 1886, beautifully restored inside and out and even surviving the Meckering earthquake that destroyed the front verandah. Walking into this hotel is like stepping back into our rural heritage with all its English pomp.

I wasnt entirely sure what they were doing with the Titanic theme at the time, perhaps it was part of a dinner theme or Mother's Day but it certainly didnt distract from the atmosphere.

A small menu but quite varied. The Imperial also has its own brewing company with beers ranging from the Original York Ale to the dark, rich Stout. All of which of course compliment the various meals nicely.

My father and I ordered the Homemade Beef & Stout Pie with handcut chips. Absolutly succulent beef, so deliciously tender. The stout sauce was not overpowering, it created a beautiful aromatic sensation on the taste buds. The chips were slightly over cooked but I loved that the Chef left the skin on.

My mum had the Cheese Plate with Pickles (always the cheese lover!) and by all accounts enjoyed it thoroughly. I should have pinched some so i could comment further!

I wouldnt say drive to York JUST to dine at The Imperial, however if you feel like a day trip or overnighter to the Avon Valley then this country pub is an absolute must visit (as are the markets in the Old Mill).

Food: 4/5
Service: 3/5
Atmosphere: 4.5/5
Price: 3/5

The Imperial Hotel on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 20 April 2011


The Ocean Centre Hotel which work is putting me up in for the 8 days i'm required in Geraldton has an arrangement with five different restaurants in the immediate vicinity around the hotel. So tonight was time to visit restaurant #2: Skeetas.

Skeetas seem to do everything. So far I havent stepped out of the hotel to see them closed. They are open first thing in the morning for brekkie and close late at night catering for those who require coffee and cake before bed. Set over-looking the town beach, Skeetas is only beaten in location by the new Dome (which may as well be lapping in the ocean). I love the interior of this restaurant, it feels almost as though you've stepped on to to the deck of a sailing boat.

To match the external image they have created, the Skeetas menu is full of seafood orientated dishes (red meat lovers are also well catered for, fret not!). I decided on two items on the specials list: Chilli Beef and for dessert a Bangladesh warm rice pudding.

The Chilli Beef had a beautiful capsicum/onion based sauce with only a hint of spice and a dash sweetness. The beef was incredibly tender although a little too much fat remained for my liking. The dish was complimented by a beautiful piece of naan bread. The Chilli Beef must have been quite the hit, because the customers ordering after me were dissapointed to be told that I had received the last serving...given it was only 6pm that seemed a little odd, why put something on the specials menu for the evening if you dont have enough to last past the first few customers?

Dessert unfortunatly didnt match the standards of the main. I adore rice pudding and to be served what basically constituted as warm milk with a few grains of rice was rather dissapointing. On the positive, the hint of cinnamon and vanilla was to die for.

Overall a pleasant meal. I can understand though why this restaurant has suffered since Dome opened close by with both drawing very similar customers, Skeetas having the more expensive menu.

Food: 3/5
Service: 3/5
Atmosphere: 3/5
Price 2/5

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Topolinis Cafe

Gnocci. "At their best, Gnocci can be light and delicate. At their worst, dense rubbery and/or soggy."

I love Gnocci. I love the versatility of it and the range of dishes that it can be incorporated into. Quite simply, it is my favourite Italian dish. I will order it from any menu.

At Topolinis, I wish I hadn't. The best part of the dish were the chunks of sweet potato. The Gnocci was stodgy and uncooked and the sauce tasteless. The worst part of the Gnocci was the range of shapes. I received small, delicate pieces that were cooked beautifully but within the same plate were large chunky pieces of Gnocci (larger than my thumb!) which were inedible.

Topolinis, like many other venues these days, have a gourmet pizza selection on their menu. Reading through the menu itself is mouth-watering. I ordered the 'Port a call' described as 'Pancetta, Portobello mushrooms, artichoke, salt and pepper feta.' Salt, and lots of it. Actually a very tasty pizza, the artichoke in particular was an interesting choice for a pizza but it made the dish. The salt was a little over-powering unfortunatly, replace the pancetta with a less salty meat and this would have been a lot more enjoyable. The stale slivers of parmasen cheese thickly layed on top also added nothing to the pizza.

To say I was dissapointed would be an understatement. The atmosphere at Topolinis is second to none in Geraldton, it is open-air which makes good use of the Geraldton sea breeze and has great staff that know the menu well and serve with confidence and personality.

Food: 2/5
Service: 4/5
Ambience: 4/5
Price: 2/5

Topolinis Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Jimmy Deans

Place: Jimmy Deans
Location: 3 The Crescent, Midland

Jimmy Deans is a throwback to the 1950s when James Dean sauntered onto the big screen with his brooding good looks that made the girls swoon. Whether he could act or not, well, thats for a different blog! The restaurant is fitted out with 50s memorabilia adorning the walls, booths to cosy up into with your hamburger and there is even a police car in case you decide to break out with inspired rebellion...although it probably wont get too far down the road given its sawn in half.

I would come to Jimmy's as a kid and I remember in particular loving the way the waiters would react to a birthday. They would bring out this enormous banana split or sundae for the birthday kid and then all the waiters in the room would jump onto stools and start bellowing happy birthday. The enthusiasm was so great that in general the entire room of customers would also join in with the singing. I really use to love Jimmy's!

A recent visit with my family though left me with a heavy heart. The menus havent been updated in 15+ years, quite literally the plastic they are printed on is falling apart, and the atmosphere...well, there just wasnt any. Unfortunatly the food was also quite lacking. It wasn't bad, still very edible, it just had no flavour. I ordered a Chilli Burger and fries. Portion size was great, if not a little large. But where was the chilli? The meat was cooked to perfection, beautifully succulant, so it was with great dissapointment that it held no flavour, no kick. Thankfully i had a refreshing banana smoothie to wash it all down with.

Food: 3/5
Service: 2/5
Ambience: 2/5
Price: 3/5

Wrap-up: Not a dive I would visit again in a hurry but if you are looking for an affordable place to take the kids then it would be worth the effort.