Sunday, 29 December 2013

Jimmy's Saigon, Civic

Pho - Jimmy's Saigon, Civic, Canberra
The style: Jimmy's Saigon is a mix of bright, clean and modern interspersed with some old-style souvenir-ishVietnamese touches like a wooden boat hanging above the drink fridge. It is very casual but definitely not dingy.

The taste: The food here was pretty good - the pho broth was great although it would have gone from yummy to out of this world if there were some fresh herbs to finish it off. The rice paper rolls were fresh and soft and the sauce packed a real punch. And the lemon squash was tangy and refreshing. Overall, for the very reasonable prices this wasn't too bad at all.
Rice paper rolls, Jimmy's Saigon, Civic, Canberra
The service: Super quick and polite, the service here was pleasant. Nothing to complain about.

The price: Considering the super-central location and the fact that some big name places are located nearby the prices here were very reasonable - with entrees from $4 and mains from $11, the pricing is pretty hard to beat.

The location: Smack bang in the middle of Civic - on the ground floor of the Gareema Centre on Bunda Street, Civic.

Useful links:

Jimmy's Saigon on Urbanspoon

Lemon squash, Jimmy's Saigon, Civic
Desserts and drinks, Jimmy's Saigon, Civic

Friday, 8 November 2013

Lonsdale Street Roasters, Braddon, ACT

Flat white, Lonsdale Street Roasters, Braddon

The Style: I don't think any word fits better to describe this place than 'hipster.' The ironically cool tea-towel cushions and souvenir tea spoons blend with edgy industrial to create a place which draws the crowds. There are long shared tables as well a smaller ones and its a place where you can sit and read a book uninterrupted while you sip your latte.

The Taste: I only tried the breakfast menu and the food was nice enough. The muesli with rhubarb and yoghurt was my choice and the rhubarb was great - the muesli was lathered in yogurt it tasted fine. The banana bread was a winner! There are also a range of pastries, panini and the like on offer. Unfortunately, the coffee which is the main attraction didn't really do it for me. It is sourced, roasted and served on-site but the cup served up to me was extremely bitter and had a seriously burnt taste, not at all creamy. I guess its a matter of taste because the crowds sure suggest that they are getting it right.
Banana bread, Lonsdale Street Roasters, Braddon
Muesli with yoghurt and rhubarb, Lonsdale Street Roasters, Braddon
The Service: Brisk but friendly enough considering how busy it was.

The Price: Fairly standard Canberra pricing, nothing too over the top but not the cheapest on offer. Allow between $8-$15 for breakfast and about $4 for a cup of coffee.

The Location: Lonsdale Street Roasters has two locations on Lonsdale Street, Braddon. There is the cafe and the roaster/bagging operations/wholesale supplier.

Useful links: Lonsdale Street Roasters

                                                      Lonsdale Street Roasters on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Alpine Larder, Crackenback (Thredbo)

Alpine Larder, Lake Crackenback

The style: Alpine Larder is rustic, warm, cosy and charming. There is a raging fire in the winter, high ceilings, warm timber and beautiful stone walls. If you visit on a snow day, its a great place to sit and eat comfort food while you watch the flakes fall. When the weather is fine, there is some outdoor seating so you can eat in the fresh mountain air. 

The taste: Alpine Larder's menu offers a range of tapas, pasta, burgers and wood fired pizzas. "Gourmet' pizza can sometimes go horribly wrong but the Alpine Larder hit the mark with a great dough and generous, scrumptious toppings. The Alpine Larder supreme was my pick and was perfect. Alpine Larder offers some vegetarian options too.
Pizza at Alpine Larder, Thredbo
The service: The day I visited was super busy in the height of winter but the staff managed to stay polite and delivered the food pretty efficiently considering the number of people they were looking after. Best to call ahead for a reservation especially if you are visiting in peak season.

The price: Prices for lunch ranged from $15-$22 with desserts around the $12-$14 mark.

The location: Alpine Larder is located within the Novotel Lake Crackenback complex off the Alpine way between Jindabyne and Thredbo. Parking is available near Alpine Larder.

Useful links:Alpine Larder menus

The interior at Alpine larder, Thredbo

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Jean-Michel at the Knickerbocker, Thredbo

Snowy day at the Knickerbocker, Thredbo
From the moment you walk through the quaint orange door, you know this place is going to be fun. Jean-Michel at the Knickerbocker is like a quirky little bit of France plonked right into Thredbo village. The decor comes complete with a snow-themed mural, fishing baskets, terracotta ducks on the wall and even an impressive stack of antlers. It is cosy and warm and the windows offer a panoramic view of the mountains and the Thredbo River.

The food here is absolutely delicious! The hearty pork cassoulet (special) is just the thing to warm you up on a snowy winters day. The burger is jam packed with big flavours and the steak is juicy and tender. The french fries with rosemary and parmesan take the humble plate of chips from something ordinary to something spectacular and the selection of desserts are just the thing to finish of a great meal in style. 

Wagyu and truffle burger, Knickerbocker, Thredbo

Pear and ginger pudding, Knickerbocker, Thredbo
The service here was spot on - friendly, efficient and warm, really adding to a great overall dining experience.

The menu isn't the cheapest with entrees around $19 and mains in the low to mid $30s but the quality justifies the cost - I seriously cannot wait to get back here for another meal!! Take a look at Jean-Michel's menu by clicking here.

Jean-Michel at the Knickerbocker is located  at 1 Diggings Terrace, Thredbo Village. Beware there is VERY limited parking nearby - if you get stuck, the shuttle from Friday Flat will drop you right outside the restaurant.

Pork cassoulet, Knickerbocker, Thredbo

Dessert, Knickerbocker, Thredbo

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Destination: Cooma, NSW Snowy Mountains

Cooma Visitors Centre
As a place to live, Cooma is the perfect balance between urban and rural. It is busy during the winter ski season and peaceful during the summer. It has four beautifully distinct seasons which is rare in some parts of Australia. And it is within an hour and a half of the ski fields, the south coast and Canberra.

It also offers visitors a place to stretch their legs after a long run down the highway. But rather than seeing Cooma as just a fifteen minute stop, here are some of the things which are worth hanging around either a few hours or even a few nights for. I have added some useful links at the bottom of this post. Many of Cooma's restaurants are reviewed separately on this blog.

The Snowy Hydro Discovery Centre - this FREE attraction explains the history of the Snowy Hydro Scheme as well as explaining how Hydro electricity works and some information on the local area. There is a short video presentation as well as hands on exhibits, a coffee shop and gift shop. It was interesting and would be a great little stop if you have school aged kids.
Snowy Hydro Visitor Centre, Cooma 
Snowy Hydro Visitor Centre, Cooma
Snowy Hydro Visitor Centre, Cooma
Cooma Visitors Information Centre - the centre has loads of information on where to stay, maps, local attractions, weather and road condition advice, exhibits and also a gift shop. 
Cooma Visitor Centre
Cooma Markets: Held on the third Sunday of each month, the market is a great way to stop, revive and survive with food stalls as well as rides for the kids and plenty of local produce. The market is often smaller in winter but still worth a look.

Cooma shopping and restaurant precinct - the Sharp Street is the main shopping street but divert off into Vale street to find some really interesting shops including Kettle and Seed (Snowy Mountains Coffee) and Moontree which sells local and organic produce. For the fashionistas, Birdsnest is on the edge of town - many would know their online site but why not pop in and have a look at the shopfront - it is really creating a buzz in a previously quiet part of town - the Royal Hotel is just across the road so a good place for the non-shoppers to relax while they wait.

Mt Gladstone Lookout and Miss Heidi's Teahouse: The lookout provides sweeping views to the alps. Miss Heidi's Teahouse is an experience which is a little pricey but well worth it if you want to try some authentic Austrian food in a building which was made by the original Snowy Hydro workers to remind them of home. Brochures explaining the history available on-site.

Cooma's History - there are information boards throughout the town centre explaining the history of the area - the Christ Church Maneroo (circa 1845 - just off Church Road, Cooma)is quaint and peaceful, the Courthouse is impressive and the (still functioning) gaol offers tours. The Alpine Hotel is an art deco building. Lambie Street (once the original main street) has some amazing historic homes.
Christ Church Maneroo (1845) Cooma
Cooma Courthouse
Cooma History Walk sign
Southern Cloud Memorial - for the aviation buffs, there is a small memorial including pieces from the Southern Cloud wreck.
Southern Cloud Memorial, Cooma
Centennial Park - the Avenue of Flags, the bicentenary mosaics and the model of the snowy mountains are all found here along with a statue of the man from Snowy River.

Kosciuszko monument, Cooma
Useful links:
Cooma Visitor Centre
Snowy Hydro Discovery Centre
Cooma Community Organisations
Cooma map
Urbanspoon - Cooma restaurant reviews
Cooma Restaurants

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Namaste Indian Cuisine, Jindabyne, NSW

Lamb chops and onion bhujali, Namaste Indian Cuisine, Jindabyne
The Style: The interior at Namaste is fairly minimalist. There is a curved ceiling with with bench seats along one side of the restaurant then a few tables overlooking the lake. Aside from one picture on the wall, there is none of the usual bright, Indian interior, just white walls and some blue lighting which was a little odd.

The taste: The food was good - not blow your socks off great but everything was nice. The curries were mild but still tasty - the chicken tikka masala was the pick with the lamb korma being a tiny bit bland.  This was the first time I had tried onion bhujali and it was delicious - you could really taste the spices and the sweetness of the onion. The garlic naan was delicous too.

The service: The service was a little lacklustre but that said, there was only one waitress and it was fairly busy so she did her best. She asked when we wanted our mains to come out after entree which was nice but also left me without an entree plate and without clearing my entree cutlery which was on my main plate. Just a little bit more attention to detail and it would have been a better experience (especially considering their website states service as a main priority.)
Chicken tikka masala and Lamb korma, Namaste Indian Cuisine, Jindabyne
The price: We got a banquet which was two entrees, two mains, breads poppadums and pickles for around $25 per head. This was good value considering one of the entrees we chose was priced at $18.90. We never did get our poppadums and pickles but there was so much food that it was still great value for money. I have attached a link to the menu below.

The location: Namaste Indian Cuisine is located in the Old Town Centre, Jindabyne. It is up a fairly steep flight of stairs but there is assistance available for those requiring wheelchair access. The entrance is between Cocina Mexican and a kebab shop - there was a billboard near the door which makes it a bit easier to spot.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Hi Siam (Thai), Cooma

Chicken Panang curry, Hi Siam, Cooma
The style: Hi Siam is located within the Cooma Motor Lodge Motel. From the outside, it is easy to miss. Inside, the walls are exposed brick and the decor is fairly simple. The atmosphere feels a little unlike a Thai Restaurant BUT once the food hits the table, all is well. There is also a bar adjoining Hi Siam.

The taste: The food at Hi Siam is lovely. The curries really pack a nice punch and the flavours are fresh and tangy. All of the usual suspects such as Panang curry, Pad Thai and stir fries appear on the menu but there are some interesting additions including volcanic chicken, sea on fire and a quail dish.
Spring rolls, Hi Siam, Cooma
Combination Pad Thai, Hi Siam Cooma
The service: Friendly and efficient, the service at Hi Siam is pleasant but not over the top.

The price: Entrees range from $9 to $12, mains from $16-$32. The servings are generous for the price.

The location:Hi Siam is located within the Cooma Motor Lodge at 6 Sharp Street in Cooma (the main street.) Hi Siam was formerly Thai Continental and moved when the old building was sold - the chef is still the same despite the name and location change.

Useful information:
Hi Siam Cooma menu

Interior, Hi Siam, Cooma

Hi Siam on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

His Boy Elroy, Wollongong

Mini pork bahn mi, His Boy Elroy, Wollongong
The style: This place is uber-cool. There is a New-Yorkish vibe with the industrial style interior interspersed with warm wood. The staff were decked out in shorts, button up shirts and bow ties and even the coaster looked trendy. The food was served on mis-matched plates which looked like they had been swiped from my nanna's place which added a bit of a twist in the otherwise modern setting. His Boy is located in Globe Lane which used to be a dead space but it sitting outside on a warm evening eating decent food and having a civilised drink was a real change from the Wollongong nightlife I remember from years gone by.
Wagyu brisket, His Boy Elroy, Wollongong
The taste: The menu was a bit of a trip around the world with Vietnamese, South American, North American and a few other influences thrown in for good measure. There is a great selection of food which is more generous than tapas but still of a style that can be shared among friends. The pick for me was the mini bahn mi with the wagyu brisket coming in a close second. The only slight disappointment was the chilli dog which didn't really have much chilli - a bit more heat and it too would have hit the mark. The cocktails were great too!

The service: The staff here were friendly, energetic and fun. The orders came out right and the timing was reasonable, especially given how busy it was. 
Chilli dog, His Boy Elroy, Wollongong
The price: The prices were very reasonable - from $5 for the snack-type meals to $18 for a shared plate.  There is a link to the His Boy Elroy menu below.

The location: His Boy Elroy is located in Globe Lane, Wollongong. This is in the mall area with the nearest street access being either Church Street or Burelli Street.

Useful links:
His Boy Elroy Menu

Cocktails, His Boy Elroy, Wollongong

His Boy Elroy on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Cocina Mexican Grill and Cantina, Jindabyne

Beef burrito, Cocina Mexican Grill and Cantina, Jindabyne
The style: Cocina Mexican Grill and Cantina is just what Jindabyne needed - a fresh new place to eat with a great atmosphere. The decor is mex to the max with bright little trinkets everywhere. There are tables both inside and out - if you eat outside, you also get a view of Lake Jindabyne which is a nice bonus.

The taste: I was pleasantly surprised by the food at Cocina - some small town Mexican restaurants seem to offer up a stodgy mess coated in a thick layer of cheese. Cocina managed to avoid this and the dishes were fresh, tasty and had a nice little zing. The nachos were yummy with all of the trimmings.  The burrito was AMAZING with the meat absolutely melt in the mouth delicious. It was one of the best things I have eaten in a long time.  The fish tacos were fresh and tasty although way too small to constitute a main - if you order these, consider a side as well.
Nachos, Cocina Mexican Grill and Cantina, Jindabyne
The service: The wait staff were helpful, enthusiastic and able to provide accurate information about the food on the menu. They were timely in taking orders and got everything spot on. The food also came out in good time.

The price: I didn't note down the prices but from memory, the mains were in the $15-20 bracket. 

The location: Cocina Mexican Grill and Cantina is located in the Old Town Centre in Jindabyne (off Kosciuszko Road.) The Old Town Centre is the first lot of shops as you come into Jindabyne from Canberra.

Outdoor seating, Cocina Mexican Grill and Cantina, Jindabyne
Useful links:
Cocina Facebook Page

Cocina Mexican Grill and Cantina on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Wild Brumby Schnapps Distillery, Thredbo

Kransky, saurkraut and mustard, Wild Brumby Schnapps Distillery
The style: The Wild Brumby Schnapps Distillery is like a quirky little piece of Bavaria right here in the New South Wales Snowy Mountains. Wild Brumby is part schnapps distillery and restaurant, part art gallery. There are sculptures throughout the gardens which add an interesting side-attraction. It is set in a beautiful valley and sitting outside on a sunny day is heavenly.

The taste: The food here is described as 'continental'. The menu is small and dominated by sausage, schnitzel and  gulasch. The food is nice but the sides are tiny so it can be a little bit difficult to chomp through a giant schnitzel with not much to break it up with. Its a shame because it is delicious but a little bit more generosity with salad and sauce would make the meals a lot more satisfying. There is German beer on tap and the schnapps which is distilled on-site is a must try. 
Wild Brumby Schanpps Distillery
The service: This is one area Wild Brumby really falls flat. I have eaten here a lot and each time, I am shocked by a)how few staff they have, especially at peak tourist times; b) how downright unfriendly some of the staff are (a friend even got hit in the head with a large branch by one who was hell-bent on ignoring us and redecorating around our table right in the middle of a busy lunch period); c) how the staff who are friendly seem to have no idea about the menu. Rant over. Don't be put off, it is still a great place to go, it is just frustrating that somewhere so popular still can't get basic customer service right...

The price: Lunches range from $9 to $20. 

The location: Wild Brumby Schnapps Distillery is located on the Alpine Way between Jindabyne and Thredbo.

Beer with a view, WildBrumby Schnapps Distillery
Useful links:

Wild Brumby Distillery on Urbanspoon

Wild Brumby website

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Jade Palace(Chinese), Cooma

Sizzling garlic prawns, Jade Palace, Cooma
The Style: Jade Palace in Cooma is hard to miss - from the outside, it is all pagoda roofing, lanterns and lions. The inside of Jade Palace has had a tasteful renovation and looks crisp and fresh. The atmosphere is warm and inviting. Jade Palace has done something amazing for a country town Chinese restaurant - it makes you want to dine in rather than grabbing your takeaway and running! 

The taste: The menu at Jade Palace has all of the classic Chinese restaurant favourites. The difference is they are not greasy or stodgy and the sauces (thankfully) missing the fluorescent colour which seem to pop up in a lot of the 'dodgy' Chinese places. The helpings are generous without being ridiculously huge, the flavours are tasty and the vegetables are fresh. 
Mongolian lamb, Jade Palace, Cooma
Sweet and sour pork, Jade Palace, Cooma
The service: The service at Jade Palace is efficient - the staff are attentive and friendly without trying too hard. 

The price: Prices at Jade Palace, Cooma are on par with your average country location Chinese restaurant. Expect to pay between $12-$20 for your main.

The location: Jade Palace is located on Amos Street, Cooma overlooking Centennial Park (the park with the flags). It is on the right if you are heading from Canberra. The exterior makes it hard to miss!
Jade Palace Chinese, Cooma