Friday, April 1, 2011


Having tried the Old Noarlunga hotel recently we decided it was high time to try the coastal version and have a meal at the PORT NOARLUNGA HOTEL.
Nice surroundings when you walk in and quite modern interior. A sign requires you to report to the bar before being seated which seemed a little superfluous as you have to report to another counter to get served. But it all went smoothly and we were able to pretty much choose our own spot. We placed our orders at the ‘other’ counter in an alcove by the kitchen and were strangely met by the same person we had arranged seating with.

There were some specials on offer, one of which was a fish meal at a special price, so I went for that while my wife decided on the daily roast, which is of course her favourite.

There is a nicely equipped salad bar with hot vegetables as well, so I decided to take advantage of that and returned to the table with a plate of various things, all of which were quite good standard pub food. I had time to consume that sample and go for a second before the food arrived, which was a little surprising as we were early and hardly any orders had been placed. It filled up later, but at the time there were hardly any other people in the whole Bistro.

However in my case it was just as well because had I not had time for two plates of salad I would certainly have starved on the fish meal when it arrived. Of all the reviews of all the places in the south of Adelaide, that was the second poorest serve. Only the Warradale was worse. There were 17 chips (one was more like a fragment so I would say 16.3 chips.) and a very inadequate piece of fish on the plate. Now across the road is the Old Noarlunga fish and chip shop I reviewed previously and I reckon that if I had walked out the door with only half the cash I had paid, I could have come back with a serve of fish and chips that would make the one served up look totally embarrassing. It was pretty well cooked though, brown crispy batter with tasty fish, but it was so small I decided to eat quickly in case a fisheries inspector arrived and wanted to seize my meal for evidence of under size. Compared to the excellent serve at the Blanche Town Hotel, (see review) for exactly the same price, this meal was almost a joke.

My wife on the other hand had a generous serving of roast meat with accompaniments that she found tasty and bordering on more than she could eat. For that reason she made only one trip to the salad bar and was content. But it was kind of a bit one sided with her munching happily away while I had consumed my really small serve in a very short time, so I made another trip to the salad bar. I was determined not to go home hungry and eventually made a fourth trip.
The offerings of the salad and hot vegetables bar was quite wide ranging through crispy salads to three types of pasta salad that were quite nice. Cheesy white sauce coated Broccoli formed a top layer of one container with white cauliflower underneath and it seemed quite popular as the level fell quickly. A bit too popular perhaps because it did not seem to get topped up and was obviously intended to last a lot longer than the diners took to consume it. On return to the table each time I found my wife happily munching away. For a standard pub ‘roast of the day’ she thought it was pretty good. Not bad, not spectacular, just good. Most of the meat was nicely cooked but she had to leave some as it was too tough.

In general it was all very standard. No single item that I could say really stood out for taste or even to catch the eye. It was plentiful and it was edible, but it was all kind of ‘ho hum’. So average as to be a flat line. I would suggest that anyone wanting a nice predictably average meal for a reasonable price would probably find the Port Noarlunga Hotel a good place for the family to meet and it was obvious looking around the Bistro that by the time we left several families were meeting for celebrations. Reasonable price would not however include the fish and chips serve. For that I would suggest you leave the family to eat, and wander across the road for a meal that would at least be filling and half the price.

I don’t want to be too harsh. We’ve been there before and had a standard meal. There is not much wrong with the place and the salad bar is well stocked. But the meal and the menu was so average that I wondered if they had some sort of franchise  going with the Warradale hotel, as their fish offering was certainly similar. So if you want to visit a good pub bistro without any fuss, then the Port Noarlunga Hotel would probably suit you...just don’t order the fish if you are hungry!

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Blanchetown Hotel

The Blanchetown Hotel
As it was a nice autumn day we decided it was high time to venture further a field before winter takes over and keeps us closer to home. My elder brother joined my wife and myself for a drive up the pleasant Stuart highway to the River Murray. Not having driven in the region for some time it was a wonderful surprise to find the roads were really excellent. We joined the dual carriageway at Port Adelaide after passing over the Port River on the new bridge. The road is new and delightful to drive on but the biggest surprise was that the dual highway just went on and on and on right up into the Barossa valley. With such good driving conditions Adelaide was soon left behind and all three of us renewed our acquaintance with some territory we had all been too at various times, but not in recent years.
The farm areas around Gawler soon fell behind us and we entered the grape vine district of the Barossa, but on this trip we were aiming for the river-land, so despite many tempting things along the way, kept driving onward. There had been some thought of stopping at Truro for lunch, but the pub Bistro there was either not open for lunches or has some very inadequate advertising signs as it seemed to be evening meals only. But we knew that at Blanchetown there were some places to eat and among them a truly historic old hotel.
The drive was a fairly long one so our stomachs were rumbling by the time we reached the small river side spot known as Blanchetown. The river is partially in flood at present but I seemed to remember that the old pub was perched up quite high on ground that overlooked Loch One, and sure enough even though it’s been many years the old place was indeed still there high and dry. Parking lots up that way are not as formal as in the city or large towns, so we were able to draw up right near the door which was a boon for me as I had been suffering some leg pains over the past week.
Country pubs are famous for their open hospitality and this one certainly didn’t disappoint in that regard. We were well greeted on entering and the whole place, while small by comparison with other pubs, was cosy, with a nice feel to it. For those wanting more elbow room there was a much larger area out on a deck that overlooked the river, so although the part we chose to sit in was small, the over all capacity of the place was obviously quite large.
Now I made a mistake here. As a strict rule I never tell anyone that I am going to write about the food and the service, but the Publican was so darned friendly that when he enquired as to the purpose of our long drive up from the south of Adelaide, I accidentally let slip that this would be the first venture into reporting on a casual eating place north of Adelaide instead of the south. That meant I had to be really on my guard in case we got a better than usual serve.
Seating was comfortable and I felt that although we are leading into winter, the Bistro area would be a very cosy spot in cold weather. Off to one side there were several selections of sauces, salad dressing etc and it was obvious that who ever arranged that had a good feeling about how different people’s tastes can be. It catered for them all.
Having let slip that I would review the meal on my Blog I decided one way to tell the real situation would be to observe the other tables. Thus I looked closely when their meals were brought out and could see that the serves were quite generous, the staff friendly and that they seemed to also know the rules of good service by standing in the right places, not passing food in front of other diners etc. A young lass serving never failed on that issue. I noted that when putting dishes in front of a diner she always moved around the table, serving each, never reaching across. Later she was the same at our table, moving quietly around behind each of us to place the meal just as a trained waiting staff should do.
In each case the meals being served were universally generous, well presented and were being received with approving eyes as they were put before each person. I could also see the reactions as the other diners ate and it was obvious they were all enjoying the food.
We had all decided that for once we would each have the same meal. Fish and chips seemed like a nice lunch. There was a choice of a small or a large serve and we all chose the large. Considering what we have paid elsewhere the price was more expensive than some and less expensive than others, indeed one might say right in the middle. So the deciding factor would be the serve itself.
Now fish and chips are fairly limited in the way they can be presented, but the kitchen had taken time to arrange them quite artistically. Not unlike they were in my review of the Warradale Hotel, (see the files on this Blog) except in this case the meal was far more adequate and it was to make an attractive presentation instead of hiding how little there was.
My first impression of the fish was that all pieces were almost uniform in colour. No burnt extremities, no pale patch here and darker patch there. All were excellently presented. The chips were quite adequate and once again I did not feel a need to actually count how many of them there were on the plate. There is nothing worse than looking at the plate and feeling it looks rather bare, but there were no such feelings at the Blanchetown Hotel. Like the fish there was a uniformity to their colour and they were very pleasant to eat, being crispy and with plenty of flavour. I presume they cut their own chips from fresh potatoes instead of the frozen pre cut taste destroyed monstrosities one gets in other places.
The fish was great. So many places overcook the fish and destroy its flavour but in this instance all the juices were retained yet there was no fatty taste. All in all that meant for a pleasant taste experience that was really pleasing. There were three pieces on my plate and each one was very enjoyable.
Equally pleasing was the salad. Now many years ago as a Bush Cop I had eaten in the dining room of many a Pub during the more formal evening meal times when things were supposed to be somewhat better than during the day, yet to have been served a salad as tasty and innovative as this one would have been unheard of. You might have got a few bits of crisp lettuce and a slice of tomato, but that’s about all. So it was really nice to see that here was a bush pub that matched nearly all the hotels and eating places so far reviewed on this Blog. It was probably only beaten by the presentation at the old Noarlunga Hotel, and then only by an artistic blending of colours. The salad served with our meal was the equal of all the others and a darned sight better than some.
We had a great day out driving the old yet familiar areas of the river, enhanced by an excellent lunch that had all three of us feeling pleased with the world in general.


This lovely historic old pub sits in the equally lovely town of Old Noarlunga, nestled in a bend of the Onkaparinga River, south of Adelaide. I had not been into that pub in many years so when we decided to head down there and explore the Bistro one lunch time, it was with a certain amount of interest and awareness that it is a historic place.
Of course its had quite a rebuild in recent years to enable it to cope with a growing population in the areas out around the sleepy old town itself. Once a small town isolated from Adelaide by distance and countryside it is now kept isolated only by the limited amount of land available in the river bend. This makes it a fortunate place for it has all the charm of the country and yet the customers a large city pub would enjoy.
The bistro was very nicely laid out in restful colours, rather long and separated from the ‘Pokies’ by a curved wall that adequately controlled the noise from those machines. We were attended to very promptly and my request for a nice quiet spot was happily granted at a window table by the northern end. This enabled us to have a pleasant view of the town and hills of the river bend.
The menu was downright tempting in all ways. I felt it was very cleverly thought out as it provided a range of meals that would appeal to just about anyone, yet was small enough that the kitchen staff would be able to guarantee every item was fresh. My wife was immediately taken by the grilled Tuna steak which left me a little jealous as I would have liked to go for that myself. But having decided that when ever possible we should try different things, I stuck to the game plan. I’ve always loved Pasta Marina and it was so nicely described that I settled on that, although it was a close run thing as some of the steak and other dishes sounded really nice. Someone obviously knew how to make the menu sound tasty and in language people understand.
Having placed our order we were invited to help ourselves at the salad bar. This was nicely laid out and while it had most of the usual things one expects, this one also had a tasty looking Thai cold noodle salad. The salad plates were quite adequate in size which was certainly an improvement over some other establishments we have been too.
Once seated with our salad plates at the ready, we got down to eating. The Thai salad was very tasty indeed and had just the right amount of ‘zing’ to it to refresh the palate and be enjoyable without overpowering all the other items available. Very notable was how fresh and crisp the salads were. I’ve had some nice ones recently and described them on this blog, but somehow the salad at this Bistro was just that little bit better than the others.
Despite quite a few people in the Bistro we did not have to wait very long to receive our main meals. When placed in front of us I could not help but admire them. Modern Chef’s like to indulge in a bit of decoration on the plate, but often forget that it is still a meal and the person eating it needs to feel they have eaten well at the end of the experience. The grilled Tuna steak sitting in front of my wife looked absolutely delectable. I don’t know if the Chef planned it that way or not, but every salad vegetable or accompanying vegetables on that plate formed a really attractive backdrop to the juicy fish in the centre. The various greens items seemed to be placed just right so that dark or light, each was visible, blended with the red of tomato and the red of capsicum to make the whole dish a great visual experience even before eating.
My Marinara was also very well laid out and my attention was immediately drawn to the juicy looking prawns and larger than expected sections of Calamari. The meal was a delight to get stuck into with a great sauce and pasta that was perfectly al’dente. Each prawn was a fresh and tasty treat, but the Calamari topped everything, being cooked to perfection as so few people seem to be able to achieve. I was surprised to find there were no shell fish as that is so traditional to Marinara, but in its place small pieces of smoked salmon had been substituted and these added a nice flavour.
Near the bottom of the pasta, with all the other items consumed, I was a little perplexed to find a flavour that I did not feel went with that sort of dish. I could not really decide what it was. It wasn’t really bad, yet it just did not match. For that reason I left the last heap of pasta uneaten. Considering the excellence of the dish in all other ways I am still a little surprised now, that there was something not quite right toward the end. It was however the only fault I could find with a generous and well laid out serve. Perhaps Chef needs to sit down and eat one almost to the end in order to work out what ingredient caused that end taste.
Meanwhile Maureen was eating away happily at her Tuna Steak. Having realised that I would have liked that myself she even let me try a fork full of what turned out to be a very pleasant and flavourful fish. I’m used to eating raw fish as I love Sushi, but my wife has never been fond of it. The Tuna steak was perhaps a fraction too raw. The outside was grilled nicely but there had not been time for heat from the grill to penetrate to the centre of what was a really thick Tuna steak. None the less it was delightfully tasty and was fully consumed along with the clever array of accompanying vegetables and green salad.
On this occasion we had sighted a menu item that drew the attention of both of us. Dutch Apple Cheesecake dessert looked like something not to be missed, so we ordered one to share. My wife is really the desserts person, the sweeter the better, but she was quite pleased with this first introduction to something a bit different. I was impressed by the quality of it and thought the taste was good, but Maureen declared it a first class dish and obviously enjoyed it. As she is the expert I will have to agree with her assessment.
Over all the visit was a very pleasant one that we will remember and have promised ourselves we will repeat. Staff were friendly and although only two were working tables they were obviously able to cope and were well in control. There were only rare glances of kitchen staff. My impression was that it was a very well run Bistro both from a management and kitchen point of view. 


Its a working mans pub in a working mans district, so this is a pub that provides good solid food and is very popular. We went in on a wet Sunday evening and arrived just before the main crowd.
The wait to be served sign was up and we waited and waited and waited. Eventually I decided to ignore it and followed instructions to place orders at the bar in front of us, where we received a very friendly welcome. I asked for a quiet corner as we’ve been to the hotel before and it can get very crowded. The waitress was only too happy to oblige and allocated us a table right at the back where we did indeed avoid most of the noise and crowd once other patrons flowed in.
The Chef special for the day was a Hickory grilled steak and having really enjoyed the one I had at the Victoria, I was keen to seek the taste of a nice juicy steak again, so that was my choice without hesitation. My wife likes chicken so as they had a special chicken meal at a special price, she settled on that.
The Christies Beach Hotel has an excellent salad and hot food bar. The size of the plates reminded me of a children’s tea set, but none the less you could go to the get as many serves as you wanted. The choice was very good too. Several hot vegetables were on offer, all nicely done and well laid out. The range of cold salad was also very good. In all the amount of food on offer was larger than we have seen at most other venues.
We returned to our nice quiet table with well packed, if tiny, plates. All items were first class and could hold their own in any pub or restaurant in the land. Crispy roast potatoes, or large salad potatoes, it mattered little because the taste was excellent and all were cooked just right. Pasta salad was tasty, coleslaw as good as any you will get anywhere. The best of all to my mind was the seafood salad which was not only tasty but had a generous mix of the seafood as well as a slightly wider than normal range of salad vegetables in it. It was excellent and we were certainly feeling quite good by the time the main dishes arrived.
At that point things changed drastically. The chicken on my wife’s plate was not at all good. Shrunken to the bone and lacking any real meat left to eat. My first thought was that they should have labelled it ‘anorexic’ chicken special. I suppose its possible this was some left over from lunchtime, reheated rather too much and then served as an evening special. If so it must have slipped past the main Chef because I cannot imagine any Chef serving such an abominable meal to a pet, let alone a customer. My wife was obviously very disappointed and I could see that it was little more than some chicken skin shrunken around some bones. If the longest bit was a drumstick then that was one hell of a skinny chicken. The only save for that meal was that the chips were very crisp and tasty, plus of course my wife could return to the salad and hot accompaniments bar to fill up from there.
My steak was medium rare just as ordered. It smelt great and the thick meat had just the right amount of juice oozing from it. Well presented on the plate, but nothing fancy as one would expect at a working men’s pub.
At that point my illusions were somewhat shattered. My first attempt to cut into it was beaten off by the steak, which seemed to suffer little damage from my attempts to cut it and on closer examination I found a huge hunk of gristle and tendon. Working either side of that I managed to cut in and sampled it. Tasty for sure and cooked exactly as ordered. But oh boy I had forgotten to bring my working men’s teeth to this renowned working men’s pub. On one side of the gristle the steak was chewable with some effort. One the other side of the gristle it was chewable only with considerable effort. As I managed to cut it I found long white strands of tendon that I later left displayed right across the plate in the probably vain hope, that when returned to the kitchen someone might spot it and tell Chef that some of his steak was downright tough. But throughout the effort required to cut and chew it that steak did retain its juicy flavour and the taste on each side showed that it had been grilled with care, using a clean grill. Top marks in all areas except the meat itself which was really one of the toughest steaks I have had in many years.
But as with my wife’s dish, there were lots of potato chips and these were delicious in their crispiness and taste. Plenty of them too, which helped fill me up when I had to eventually concede that the steak was winning and give up trying to eat any more of it.
Overall the pub offers a good choice of meals with prices to accommodate everyone from those on a limited budget to those tradesmen flush with cash from an after hours call out to fix a drain. The salad and hot food bar was really good and the service friendly. Lots of staff kept going back and forth to the kitchen and these included some kitchen staff who seemed well kitted out.
So in conclusion we may have been unlucky that night. My wife getting some extremely over cooked chicken and myself getting the toughest steak Chef had at his disposal. But of course one is paying for the meal to be as expected, so that chicken should NEVER have slipped past the view of the Chef, even if kitchen staff had not cared. As for the steak, well the Chef cannot be expected to know if every bit of steak is tender or not, but he and kitchen staff should have been able to see that the pieced served to me was very gristly before it was tossed on the grill, and at least given a tenderizing treatment. A piece of white tendon was hanging out one side and the gristle was very clear to see, so I am rather amazed trained staff did not toss that one aside to be stewed in a curry where it would have done well.


I’m not sure what a Koko Dream is but the establishment is in the Mall at Hallett Cove. We’ve seen it many times and the place always seems to have plenty of customers, so being out very early one day we decided to have breakfast in the Mall. We were actually headed to another establishment, but the Koko Dream looked so inviting and popular that plans were changed and it became our choice.
Koko Dream is quite well laid out and the menu is loaded with tasty sounding snacks, so I really wanted a few moments to examine the menu, but in that regard good service became a little too good. We were asked to order well before we had time to consider the menu and as there was a fair bit of noise going on, people coming and going etc I felt pressured to state my choice. Probably not good because later after sitting down at our table I had much more time to examine what was on offer and would certainly have preferred something else.
My wife loves pancakes, so feeling a bit pressured I ordered them for both of us. The gentleman serving had an accent that I found very hard to understand. It may have been just that there was rather a lot of noise, but I kept thinking the TV series ‘Ullo Ullo’ and that the moustache wearing man taking my order was none other than ‘Rene’ ....bad accent and all. But he was pleasant and seemed to understand everything I was saying even if I was left somewhat confused by the time we sat down.
First to come was the coffee. We both like Cappuccino and the large mugs placed in front of us looked inviting. The taste was great too and one was well aware that one was drinking a cup of coffee provided by people who understood that drink. It was neither too sharp, nor too bland and the thick frothy coating nice and tasty.
While starting on our coffee it was pleasing to see a staff member nod acknowledgement of us and say that our main order would be coming along very soon. That’s great when a place has lots of people you can sit there wondering what your status is within the crowd, so it was nice to see that staff knew exactly what you had ordered and kept you informed of progress.
When the plates arrived they were piled high with some excellent pancakes topped with cream, ice-cream and of course maple syrup. Now that is not exactly the sort of thing I would normally eat for breakfast, so the whole thing was a bit experimental for me. None the less the warm pancakes proved easy to eat and the toppings were just right. I had the feeling that who ever was making these dishes must have eaten them regularly in order to know so well what was neither too much, nor too little. Very well presented.
Having consumed out pancake breakfast, and sipped the last of the coffee, we departed feeling quite full. One test of good pancakes is of course later in the day. Bad ones can produce indigestion, but these certainly did not. They were as light on the stomach as they were on the plate.
Prices were reasonable across the whole menu, although some things tended toward the higher end.

The Victoria Hotel At the top of the Darlington Hill.

The Victoria Hotel
At the top of the Darlington Hill.
It was a Thursday lunch time when we decided to try the Victoria Hotel. We had not been there for a few years, certainly not since its rebuild, so we decided to see if it was a good as we remembered. It has a very large and adequate car park, befitting a pub that is known to be extremely popular with young people on weekends.
On arrival we were faced by a ‘please wait to be seated’ sign, but nobody there to greet us. Often that can be annoying, but on this occasion any sense of impatience was immediately defused by a big smile from a young woman behind the bar who promised to be right with us ASAP. Then yet another acknowledged us and smiled in a way that suggested she would be with us shortly. They were obviously busy, so it was nice to be noticed and not just ignored. Then a few moments later a young man bustled out from the kitchen with both hands full of plates for delivery to tables at which expectant diners were waiting. I took it that he was the Bistro Manager. He called out that he would be with us very soon and as once he had delivered the plates of food came straight to us. I noted that one of the female staff was also about to come to help us but turned back. Excellent public relations by all concerned!
As I was nursing a head ache I asked if we could be seated in a quiet spot. The area in which all the other diners were gathered was already fairly crowded as it was St.Patricks day and I had a feeling it would not only fill up, but get a bit noisy. Without the slightest hesitation the young Bistro Manager showed us to an empty section of the dining room and seated us in a most comfortable spot. He then gave us some time to read the menu, but I noted that even though he bustled in and out of the kitchen a lot, he glanced at us each time and we were certainly not being ignored. As soon as we were ready he took our orders and we sat back to enjoy nice warm bread rolls served up with butter at room temperature.
I had decided on the daily special which was a steak with garlic prawns on top. My wife had pasta. The meals were very prompt in coming and neatly arranged, if not perhaps as artistic as one sees in a lot of places these days. Personally I prefer a good feed to an artistic presentation so I had no problem with viewing a plate that was covered with a generous serve of steak, oozing with Prawns and a great garlic sauce. For a lunch time special the steak was quite tender. Not remarkably so, but tender enough for my tired old teeth to deal with and I had the impression that under the juicy covering it may have been tenderized.
As the prawns were merely a topping to the steak I did not expect too many and yet there were enough for me to feel that I had not been short changed. The taste of the garlic sauce was excellent and seemed to well compliment both the prawns and the steak. There was no need to count how many potato chips were on the plate as they were quite numerous as well as crisp and brown. Sometimes it can be due to the potatoes used, but the taste did not quite seem to be the equal of their crispiness and evenly cooked appearance.
The Victoria does not provide a salad bar, but the salad provided on the plate was crisp and tasty, if somewhat conventional.
My wife was making signs that her pasta meal was quite excellent and declared it all tasty as well as a really good serve. Presentation was again not really in line with that modern trend of turning a plate into an artwork while hiding a lack of food on it. Instead it was a very adequate serve and of course that is important because in the end what matters is if you feel satisfied inside on leaving, not if you thought the chef had talent as an artist.
We don’t often have a dessert at lunch time but on this occasion decided we would do so. Ice-cream was the choice and once again it was a fair serve for a fair price.
In all the experience was very positive. The prices are pretty much on average for larger pubs. Not as cheap as some that offer lunch time specials, but none the less I felt they were fair and the food provided was similarly fair for the price.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Beach Road Chippy.
As part of the search for a traditional fish and chip shop of the old style I knew as a kid, I responded at once when my wife pointed out that there was one open on Beach Road at Christies Beach. On parking outside I was impressed to see several people waiting inside and a young man obviously enjoying himself eating at an outside table. An empty shop can sometimes be a warning to not proceed...nobody likes this place. There was no such sense of warning here.
On entering I did have that feeling of ‘tradition’. Oh sure there are all the usual extra foods available these days, but the signs offering meal deals were mostly to do with various combinations of fish, with varied quantities of Chips. I made a selection and noted that the prices were quite good. Equal to some, but certainly much better than some others we have explored recently.
Near the door the comfort of patrons was taken seriously with a couple of couches and chairs to use while they waited. There were several who came in, placed orders and sat down there too, so it was not only considerate, but obviously appreciated by customers. It was hardly a plush five star hotel lounge, but quite adequate. There were also magazines to read. Great, just like when I was a kid.
Three staff were working behind the counter, all wearing matching blue tops. Not an essential thing and a level of uniformity often not seen these days, but it did give an impression that the owner cared. I took the middle aged gentleman serving to be the owner and noted a certain amount of experienced efficiency in the way he went about things. The two girls looked as if they certainly knew there way around a fish and chip shop too and although unhurried and undemonstrative, there was an impression that the three of them were a well practiced team.
There were some funny signs up about the place which indicated the owner obviously had a sense of humour, plus there were some displays of coral and beach sand items. I found there was something ‘old’ and comfortable about the whole air of the place.
One would not want to have become too engrossed in the magazines provided as the service was quite quick. Two nice parcels were exchanged for cash and I headed out to the car to join my wife to relate to her that it was indeed traditional and I had high expectations for the food. I had her chuckling when I described some of the funny signs in the ‘Chippy’ as we drove to a nearby park.
Having unwrapped the two parcels we found the fish had a traditional batter look to it, but on biting into it both of use expressed delight that both the batter and fish inside it were very tasty. Fish loses flavour when over cooked and that can be a problem in far too many eating places. Our serve had been cooked just long enough for the batter to crisp, and yet for the fish to cook to nice and juicy, rather than dry. The chips were also a surprise. Crisp and tasty; perhaps not the traditional style I remember as a kid when they would often be soft and greasy, but very nice. Chicken salt had been applied and also added to the taste.
We were at a park without Seagulls, but found some other willing birds to toss crumbs too and the whole experience was good fun. Having enjoyed the food I can recommend THE BEACH ROAD CHIPPY at Christies Beach for a good old style fish and chips meal.


This Blog is of course mostly about the casual eating about one does when out shopping, so one of the many food shop selections at WESTFIELD MARION seems very appropriate. The Quarterdeck offers a wide range of food types one must walk past in order to reach one at the very far end, that offers a range of Italian style food. That’s JJ’s TASTE OF ITALY and it has quite a nice display of mouth watering dishes.
I have in the past really enjoyed the Chicken Florentine but as my wife decided to order that, I decided to try something quite different. I settled on the Pasta Penne in a nice meaty sauce and ordered a large Italian meatball to go with it. There was no waiting as all dishes were pre-cooked and arrayed in a warmer with glass counter display. Serves are quite reasonable for price, were presented on trays along with the various accoutrements.
JJ’s share a corner with McDonalds and a Chinese food stand so the seating area was pretty busy. None the less we found a fairly quiet spot and sat down to enjoy the food. The first obvious thing is that in the years we have been visiting the shopping centre the Chicken Florentine has not changed much. But then why should it? Its tasty, it’s well made and a darned nice meal. With accompanying vegetables it is also quite a large serve that my wife struggled to do justice too.
My Penne was quite good. It must be pretty hard to keep the pasta at an al’dente state but the pasta was really great, not at all over done. Taste was quite good too. Perhaps not what one would get and of course expect to get at some top Italian Restaurant, but it was certainly OK. The meatball was good and considering other Italian Meatballs I’ve eaten in the past, above average. Certainly far more taste than my recent introduction to Swedish Meatballs at IKEA and considering size, probably more meat in that one than in the ten at that Nordic establishment.
Its a hole in the wall eating place in a major shopping mall. You would be silly to expect a five star meal, but all things considered JJ’s TASTE OF ITALY is a decent meal for a fair price. Well worth checking it out on a busy shopping day.

Whistle Stop at Goolwa

Somewhat smarting at our experience at Hector’s on the Wharf I decided to go with the advice of my older brother, so we headed off to try the restaurant of his recommendation and previous good experience.
Whistlestop is a small but well presented restaurant on the south side of the main road from Victor Harbour, just after you enter Goolwa.  We  entered and looked about to see if there was a table where the three of us could be comfortable. A charming lady host appeared and invited us to sit where ever we wished. She invited us to sit at a table set for four and certainly had no qualms about there being only three of us.
The menu was quite exciting.  Usually my wife and I choose something different, but after several false starts we both decided we had to go for the same dish a Lamb Burger with a very juicy description. My brother chose a fresh fish dish.  However the menu was so interesting that I kept looking at the daily specials and others displayed on the wall and at the front door. Salt and Pepper Prawns with a light Thai dressing on fresh salad kept beckoning to me, but my mind was no sooner settled that it would be the dish to try next time, than something else grabbed my attention, especially the description of the steak dishes. Heck, I could have happily eaten any of the offerings shown.
Having ordered we were then able to sit back and relax. As the driver I settled for a soft drink, but as the others were absolved of the responsibility of that duty, decided on a glass of wine each. A nice White wine recommended by the hostess for my wife; and red for my brother. One often finds a house wine, to be a pretty cheap drop, but in this case both declared the wine to be very good indeed and the price quite reasonable too.
In addition to the Hostess there appeared to be two other staff who were nicely dressed in appropriate Chef gear, looking neat and clean. Some other diners had just left and we late arrivals were the only customers, so I was a little surprised that the meal was moderately slow in coming. Not terribly so, but longer than I would expect, especially as I could see the kitchen staff and they certainly didn’t look over worked.
The meals were delivered and immediately impressed us all. The Lamb Burgers were huge. Freshly toasted long buns that had crunch to them yet were easy to eat. The bread bun was tasty and quite light, but felt like it would be quite filling. The bun was crammed full of crunchy fresh salad, caramelized onions and a huge minted lamb Pattie all topped with a very nice pickled sauce. The combination was cleverly thought out and a delight to the palate. Perhaps the only thing I would suggest would be to make the Pattie a bit longer and narrower so as to match the size of the bun. It would make it slightly easier to eat, but it was really a very minor issue. As it was the Lamb was cooked to perfection, was juicy, had a good texture and was the perfect match for the other ingredients.
The main dish was surrounded with a whole heap of chips. So many I didn’t feel the need to count them as in some of my other reviews and can happily report that they were numerous. Not just chips either. These were crispy potato chips of very high standard. I know in other reviews I have praised some chips as probably the best you can get, but there is no doubt that the ones we were offered at ‘Whistle Stop’ easily beat them all. It’s a long drive, but I think I would drive all that way just to get more of the crisp tasty chips. They were very impressive indeed. If there was a blue ribbon for potato chips I would expect to see it hanging on the wall of that restaurant. I checked with my brother, who seemed to have similarly enjoyed his fish meal. He declared it very good quality, fresh and tasty, with the chips also getting top marks.
My wife was obviously enjoying her serve of the same dish and appreciated that the wine recommended by the hostess seemed to go with it very nicely. That is an important part of the dining experience, so with a comfortable table, nice wine, good food, plenty of elbow room and an attentive hostess, the meal was pleasing for us both and we were able to chat happily.
This was a restaurant, not a shopping centre eating place, so you would expect to pay a little more for the surroundings and service. The external layout was obviously designed to attract those who did want to make a quick stop as indeed the name of the place itself implied. However the prices were not at all as high as I might have expected. Of the many places we have visited recently, this one certainly sits very high on the list of places to recommend to friends, family and readers of this Blog.
So if you are planning a scenic drive down to the bottom of the Fleurieu Peninsular the enjoyment of the day can be further enhanced with a visit to WHISTLE STOP.


This proved a total bomb out. We were a party of three, with my elder brother having joined us for a day exploring the south coast. After renewing memories around Victor Harbour we were all pretty hungry but decided to make the drive to Goolwa to eat at one of the places there as they have a good reputation.

There were plenty of places to choose from but Hectors on the wharf looked rather old and quaint with a semi-falling down look.

We decided to eat inside as the wind was a bit nippy, and as there were only tables for two, or for four, we three chose a four. Two very tall men take up a lot of leg room, so it seemed reasonable and logical to me. However a grey haired man said he preferred to keep his tables for four in case he gets .... four.... His solution was to grab a spare chair and put that in the aisle alongside one of the tables for two. That seemed to me to be very insensitive of our personal comfort. The three of us were expected to cram onto a table obviously too small, with one sitting in the aisle, in order to preserve a table he may or may not get a foursome to sit at. And  as it happened there were several other four place tables empty and the restaurant itself was only half full. 

When I announced I didn’t want to sit where indicated we were greeted with a ‘too bad’ to which my immediate reaction was too bad indeed, as that convinced me we should go where the management considered our comfort of importance. Three people crammed onto a two person table when two are very tall,  was not my idea of relaxing while I ate. Plus that corner seemed more crowded and I could envisage it being even more so with one of us having to sit in the aisle. It is a shame that sometimes Restaurants over look that the dining out experience includes enjoying the food and relaxing while you do so is all part of it. The space offered us was less than at Westfield Plaza Quarterdeck the day before, and that was crowded enough. More cramped than most of the big chain Burger joints.  

We had already glanced at the menu on arrival and I had started to look it over when I first sat at the roomier table. It looked good, it looked comprehensive, and it also looked expensive. I don’t mind paying for good food, but if the management expected me to pay high prices for good food, but sacrifice comfort while doing it, then I prefer to go somewhere else.

That we did. See review for Whistlestop.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

IKEA was ikky

After weeks of talking about it, today we drove down to the Adelaide airport to visit the IKEA store and try the famous Swedish Meatballs lunch.

It was all new to me as I had not been there before, but my wife was familiar with the place and led the way to what is really a big cafeteria. A rather busy one too when we arrived.
Standing in a queue is never my favourite thing and it took quite a while to finally progress to where the hot meals were being served. I ordered the larger size serve of meatballs as so many overseas friends had told me they were excellent. I was less than impressed to get the small serve handed to me and realise that the staff can hardly hear anything you say over all the noise. Second BAD point was discovering a rather large blonde hair in my meatballs before I had progressed any further. I drew this to the attention of staff and the meal was replaced. I concede that it WAS a Blonde hair and it is a Nordic establishment, but I would have preferred just meatballs.

My wife was delayed as Atlantic Salmon was not immediately available. We were left standing about for a bit, then it was suggested we pay and sit down, with her meal being brought to us later.

On finding a seat I noted signs on every table 'explaining' why the customers were expected to clear their own table after eating. This it declared, was to enable them to keep the food prices low as if they employed staff to do it, the prices would have to be higher. Having eaten around a lot lately I thought that was a downright silly lie. Having counted the price of our meals they were in fact much more expensive than we have paid for full sit down service at hotels and other fast eating places in recent weeks. In addition the seating was far less comfortable and the surroundings quite spartan. The statement that this was why they didnt have more table staff left me feeling a bit annoyed. It was however quite bright and roomy.

The meatballs were a disappointment, being very bland. But they were somewhat saved by the gravy with them being very tasty. The potato chips were at least numerous as well as crispy fried and very tasty. The addition of what seemed like strawberry jam to the dish seemed a bit unusual, but it was fairly tasty to add it to the rest. It did at least help the meatballs gain some flavour.

My wife had her Atlantic Salmon delivered to her table along with apologies for the delay and with some complimentary garlic bread. She enjoyed the meal, found it had plenty of flavour and liked the way the potatoes were done. Sharing the garlic bread we found it to be OK, but rather like any one would get frozen in a supermarket and heat up later.

I had fruit salad and cream with my meal. Tasty due to a good mix of flavors but with cream that was fluffy yet surprisingly tasteless. I did enjoy it and for price I suppose it was reasonable. My wife had a slice of one of the cakes, which she declared very enjoyable too.

On completion of the meal we followed the instructions and took our dishes and trays to where it showed they should be deposited. I had seen a young man hard at work in that area but despite his efforts when we got there it was full of trays and dishes. As a result a glass on my tray fell and smashed. The young man was very quickly on the spot to sweep up the glass, so he was certainly observant and doing his job. Its a pity the management didnt give him a couple more helpers.

All up I felt a bit annoyed and that did not make me a happy shopper when we visited the rest of the store. Having notices telling people that getting them to clean up the tables themselves was to make the meals inexpensive was so obviously a load of nonsense that I felt it was a bit of an insult to ones intelligence. What they should have said is that it was a cafeteria along the lines of those that have been running for decades in crowded factories, schools and etc and that by asking YOU to clear up, they didnt have to raise the prices even more than they were. Because in all honesty, our experiences of the last several weeks show that IKEA was certainly not less expensive than many lunch time eating establishments, and it was far more expensive than some that provide full table service.

So for me, it was bad marks to IKEA for trying to feed me bullshit along with my meal. For that alone I would not be in a hurry to eat there again.

Second take on eNuf

Last evening I persuaded my wife….and it took little persuasion…that we should check out eNuf on a different day to see if the place ran better on other nights.
It did. Far better. Totally different staff on duty. I made some enquiries and it seems last Sunday was a bit of a crisis. Some staff failed to turn up for work. Normally they would have five people on duty because of the demand on weekends. Only three were there and the bewildered looking teenage girl was bewildered because she really was (bewildered) at it all having been 'drafted in' to help.
Last night was very fast and efficient service. We both had a 'Hoffman' burger, my wife choosing Aussie damper bread and I went for sesame seed white. It was certainly an impressive burger in appearance and in taste. Instead of a heavily compacted beef meat patty, the large minced beef item was loosely packed, crumbled as you ate it, but was extremely juicy as well. Loose packing of the meat meant crumbs, but it also seemed to allow more of the meat to contact the grill, producing more natural BBQ flavour from the charcoal heat. Once again the salad crunched when you ate it, the sauce mingled with the juice of the meat, and it was an all up delight to eat. My wife kept muttering 'superb' as she ate hers with a knife and fork, but I cut mine in half and then went for the traditional hamburger grip. I had to cut it in half because it was so big.
The bread was excellent on both hamburgers. The white Aussie Damper was light and absorbed juices very nicely, which meant all the flavour was enjoyed rather than dripped onto a plate and lost. The white sesame bread was similarly light and had plenty of taste on its own.
We did try the Onion rings this time. Very nice crispy onions rings of mostly large size. And onion is an onion so there is not a lot you can do when it is the only ingredient, but the crispy outside went with it extremely well, to provide one with a crunchy treat. We had a bowl of their excellent crispy chips as well and to go with both, we ordered two choices of dip. Hollandaise and Chili-Lime-aioli. Both dips were very good and because they were catering too quite different tastes I found it hard to distinguish if one was better than the other, but I must say the very thick creaminess of the Hollandaise was impressive.
The shop was very busy throughout our stay, which was much shorter with an efficient and effective staff. There was no confusion about who was to perform which role and customer waiting time was down to just a few minutes.
My wife and I are not great fans of the hamburger. Its not that we dont enjoy one now and then, its simply that we like plenty of variety in our food and usually try other choices first. But we both agreed that the eNuf burgers were quite exceptional and if considering food in general we would detach them entirely from the mass burger joints, and consider them more of a healthy meal than a fast food solution.

Burgers at eNuf

Just lately various issues have called my wife and myself away from home more than usual. As a consequence we have also eaten out more often. I'm so intrigued by the range of take away, or casual eating foods about that I am considering writing some articles for our local newspaper.
One place we came across was last Sunday. Driving along a major arterial road to Glenelg we sighted a place we had not seen before. An old corner shop had been turned into a Burger place, but from its location in an up market beach suburb I expected it would be above the usual. Another attraction was that there was a line right out the door onto the footpath. People must like the food.
After taking the dogs for a beach walk we drove back to test the wares. The line had mostly gone but there were still several people waiting and as we looked at the menu, others came and went. Popularity was ensured because of the location amid a mass of high rise apartments, up-market flats, holiday homes etc. The age of residents within walking distance would be in the 20's, young married, few or no children yet. Perfect targets for a burger joint.
What a good idea! Someone had decided to produce a 'Burger joint' above the run of the mill. The menu included some really interesting changes from the usual things. Tandoori chicken burger was my choice and my wife went for Chix. I also ordered the standard version of the house special the 'Enuf' burger as a take away.
But all the burgers looked very good. A nice description of content, which also turned out to be accurate, rather than just the hype one sees at the mass market burger joints. Most tastes were catered for from vegetarian to seafood, steak, chicken, lamb etc. Then within those choices was a choice of style. Cajun, Indian, American, Thai, European, or a traditional Aussie burger. Lots of different sauces to choose from and three styles of bread roll.
Layout of the shop was very good. An old colonial air to match the old corner shop and that it was near where the first colonists had landed to found this state. The lounge style seat I sat on was less than comfortable but I think that was because in their desire to give comfort there had to be some sacrifice to elbow room. So the seats of that style were a bit cramped. Other seating was good, the tables were clean and the general appearance of the whole premises was of cleanliness. One problem was that popularity has its problems and the amount of seating available was obviously not enough for the people who wanted to use it.
My seat faced the open cooking area and ordering counter so I had a full view of proceedings. Very, very busy! Lots of coming and going.
But that also had a price. I could not help but feel the staff were unable to cope. A woman in her 30's and a man of the same age did all the cooking. A somewhat bewildered looking teenage girl took the orders.
The female chef obviously had to look at the orders hanging on a rack and in doing so was looking toward the customers. She must need glasses because every time she did it, she squinted and frowned. The effect of a scowling and sometimes bad tempered looking chef was projected out into the shop. Although laid out excellently in most other ways, I would recommend a short glass partition would let people see what was going on, but eliminate the scowling chef. And she scowled a lot, so it was more than just a minor thing.
Next problem was that in finding it hard to cope, the service was therefore quite slow. An additional problem seemed to be that the scowling chef got things mixed up a lot and projected blame back on the girl taking the orders, the male chef, or the customer. This did not work with one table where a well dressed and self assured young man made it very clear what he had ordered and insisted he get what he ordered.
The male chef seemed to know what to do, but looked confused a lot due to comments from the scowling female chef.
Service for tables was slow. The burgers were placed on wooden platters, and these set up on a counter. But as to who was supposed to take them to the customer seemed a bit confused. The bewildered young teenage girl did several, but so did the two chef's from time to time.
Table service was confusing. There seemed to have been no provision made for distinguishing which tables had ordered which hamburgers and which customers where which. Take away or eat in, all got the same treatment of being bandied from table to table asking if the occupants had placed that order.
When we finally got our actual order….and we did go through a couple of false starts….the burgers were presented in an excellent manner. The wood platters seemed to help keep them warm, there were nice table napkins and even cutlery provided.
Taste? Well I remarked a mere few moments before my wife made the same remark, that the product was probably the very best burger I had ever had. And that was only after a couple of bites. Very nice combination of ingredients. Excellent burger buns that were of high quality. Burger filling was generous and the sauces of high standard. Being more used to the rather tired salads of the mass burger joints, the freshness of the salads on these burgers was strikingly different. They had also gone beyond the usual, so there were salad vegetables not normally seen in McDonalds unless they were in someones shopping bag! Good fresh and tasty stuff.
Potato chips….of French fries to the Yanks….were probably right up there with the best I have ever been served anywhere. Crisp, tasty little potato morsels. A popular item at several tables were the house special onion rings and it was easy to see the customers with those were really enjoying them.
Looking about it was obvious that every burger served up was hitting the mark with each customer. You could see the looks of satisfaction on their faces and pick up snippets of high approval conversation. Due to the kitchen being not really able to cope, our stay was quite long so I had plenty of time to observe customer reactions. They were always high in praise of the food and this seemed to placate some of the tension from slow service.
There was one health issue that concerned me. Surprising in such a well laid out premises, that is obviously kept scrupulously clean. That was the scowling chef. At one point she wiped her liberally perspiring face with the front of her hand, then immediately picked up a burger with that same hand and placed it on a platter. That made me shudder a bit.
I watched that burger sit there across many minutes and was relieved it was not one served to us. After some twenty minutes sitting around, that burger was put into a brown bag and placed in a warm position. I did not see it picked up, but it was gone thirty minutes later when I looked.
All up we probably spent at least an hour at the shop. I put half of that down to the confusion in the kitchen as to who ordered what. That's a long time for a burger joint. Half an hour would be acceptable. An hour far too long.
Would I eat there again. Oh most certainly. The sheer quality of the food and its healthy presentation will see me returning. But probably in non busy time slots!
Price. My wife felt it was rather on the expensive side for a burger. However she did concede that each one was an excellent meal, of high quality and certainly the best she had ever eaten. A fairly standard burger was just under ten dollars. The huge 'eNuf' special was nearly sixteen dollars.
Side dishes were similar to other places, but on the higher side in price.
All up it was very enjoyable, but I hope the staff get their act together soon or those long waiting times and confusion about orders will cause many of the young people living in those flats, to walk five minutes down the road to a conventional mass burger joint, walk back the same five minutes, and still he back home and have eaten their meal in the time they would have still been waiting at eNuf.

The Hub Tavern

Another of our eating out visits recently was to the Hub Tavern at the Hub Shopping Centre. A daughter had recommended the Salt and Pepper Squid which is a favourite of mine, so we headed up to there for a Thursday lunch.
Bright clean premises enhanced by some bright and clean looking staff that met us with a friendly greeting. The couch style seating against the walls was very comfortable, but the other chairs were good too. A bright young lady took our order within moments of showing us to our table and we had barely had time to settle and look about the room before she placed lovely warm bread rolls on the table. The aroma of fresh bread was as good as the rolls themselves which turned out to be very crispy crust with soft white contents. Butter spread into the centre melted quickly and provided a tasty pre meal snack.
Being a very hot day I asked for Iced Coffee and although it was apparently not on the menu, the young lady was quick to offer to make one especially for me. It arrived promptly and I sipped it appreciatively while enjoying the bread rolls. When I later complimented her on the quality of the iced coffee she admitted with a slight giggle that her manager had made it as she didnt have a clue how. It was so nice to be in a place where instead of saying something was not on the menu, the staff went out of their way to provide it.
But I didn't have to sip for long. The meals came out with surprising speed and way before I expected. A bowl of nice crunchy potato chips accompanied my Lemon Pepper Squid, along with a bowl of freshly washed salad. Nicely presented on the platter and looking good enough to eat.
My wife ordered grilled Chicken and it too was nicely laid out, with an aroma that made one want to eat it at once.
My Squid dish was delightful. Just the right combination of crispiness to the salt and pepper batter without browning too much and thus not retaining any greasy taste from its rapid deep fry. Chips were crisp and tasty but the flavour was a little off and I was not sure if perhaps they had been frozen, which always spoils the taste of a good potato chip.
The salad was excellent and obviously freshly washed. So I felt a little sorry for the Chef when a small Gnat detached itself and hovered about the bowl. I guess it was watching its home get eaten. In a hills area that sort of thing is not unexpected as there are lots of insects about that are hard to control. That there was only one was probably a compliment to the cleanliness we could see all around us. I later had the chance to speak to the Chef and we discussed the Gnat problem in good humour. Certainly something he could not help and was trying hard to prevent.
Price was excellent. So good that I had to do a double take to be sure I had it right. The lunch time special certainly beats most other Hotels and Taverns of the southern region for price and quality. Size of serve was adequate if not huge and the service was so friendly as to make one want to go back.
The premises were bright and clean. Well kept up and comfortable. I would rate the Hub Tavern very highly for those wanting a quality lunch for a good price.

Red Rock Noodle Bar Reynella

Looking for something a bit different I recently tried a take away meal from the Red Rock Noodle bar at Reynella. I loved the look of the place on entering. Now this was the kind of take away Chinese food place I remembered from years ago. The kind of hole in the wall small shops where I first learnt the taste of Asian foods.
The menu was amazingly extensive. I thought I knew a bit about noodles, but there were dishes available that I had never heard of. The premises seemed to be run by a husband and wife team who were very friendly and from their accent I presumed had been living in Australia for many years.
I wanted to try something a bit unusual, but with seafood so I asked the Chef for his advice. He tossed around a few ideas and I eventually settled on a combination that would use a Japanese Udon noodles but with seafood and a spicy Beijing sauce. The chef put the ingredients in his wok and had it all ready to serve in minutes. I love to cook Asian food myself so I admired the way he tossed things about so casually over the heat with a skill to be admired.
My wife was not very hungry so she settled for some Chinese pork dumplings and Japanese sticky rice cakes.
On arriving home the smell of good food filled the area as soon as I lifted the lid of my noodle container. It was tasty and the amount of seafood quite fair when one considers price and that it was basically a noodle dish. I certainly ate it with relish and although listed as spicy, did not find it overly so. There is a point where hot and spicy can overwhelm taste. The Chef had stopped just short of that point and thus provided just the right amount of taste and spiciness for one to enjoy the experience.
My wife was a little disappointed with her Pork Dumplings. This was mainly because there is a huge range of difference in Chinese food from one region to another and in this case the region was not the right one for her. Tasty but rather too salty was her opinion.
The Japanese sticky rice cakes were a new experience for both of us. My wife found them very chewy and compared the experience to chewing ones pencil rubber at school. Although apparently of different flavors this did not really come through well and they all seemed to taste pretty much the same despite difference in colour and external decorations. I found them edible, but certainly not something I would go looking for.
All up I thought it was a good meal. Service was prompt and friendly, choice was extensive and the prices were very good. I would certainly get a meal from there again.

The Coffee Club at Hallet Cove Mall

This small eating house takes up a shop area in the Mall of a local shopping centre at Hallett Cove. Outside advertising is clever as it has large photographs of only a couple of meals. Some places try to show too much. They simply showed two enlarged colour photographs which did not confuse.
Lounge couch type seating at our table was rather more uncomfortable once seated than it looked. I guess the management cant go around sitting on each one every day and the discomfort was more due to over use. That in a fairly new establishment was more encouraging than it might seem, because unless the food was good, the seats would not have got such an amount of use!
The menu was extensive but annoying. Only annoying in the sense that instead of simply stating the price in good old dollars and cents, each meal had a series of numbers after it, which did turn out to be the price. But as they were in different fonts, some in bold, some not, some large, some small, one could not help but wonder what on earth these numbers were. A polite staff member established that they were actually prices and the 'trendy' new way of doing it had aroused bewilderment with other customers too.
That said the content of the menu was impressive for a small eating place and each meal had a full list of content. A wide range of taste was catered for, allowing one to have a full meal or a snack. Or perhaps just a quick cake or dessert while enjoying the coffee. And as it turned out the coffee really was enjoyable. I had the iced version as it was a warm day and that was accompanied by a completely over indulgent scoop of whipped cream. It was pleasant to be able to sip a tasty glass of coffee while perusing the menu. My wife was more conventional and had cappuccino which she declared to be excellent.
For the meal my wife chose Smoked Atlantic Salmon on fresh Italian bread, with salad. When it arrived we were both impressed with the size of the meal and the great way it was presented. The fillet of Salmon had been grilled and a light cream cheese melted over it before it was placed in a medium length bread roll. Accompanying salads were crisp and fresh and although this included some leaf types she is not fond of, my wife none the less declared it to be a fine salad indeed. Her rolling eyes and signs of enjoyment preceded her announcement that the whole dish was really tasty. She did permit me to taste a small portion and I was very impressed. Who ever thought up the combination of flavors that went into the dish did an excellent job. The potato chips that accompanied it were crispy fried and tasty.
I ordered a Thai Salad with beef strips. Again the salad was very crisp and fresh. The beef was tender and juicy, cooked just right, neither over nor under done. The only disappointment was that it was labelled as a Thai dish and I found little to qualify for that description. Tasty to be sure, a generous size serve also. But Thai? There was a little bit of sauce in the bottom of the bowl with a sort of Asian taste but the salad vegetables were pretty standard western to me. Knowing the Thai love of coriander I thought it might have benefited from having some of that in among the greens and of course if Thai, at least some chopped chili. None the less, despite the rather askew description, it was an enjoyable meal with a very generous serve of salad.
For dessert we totally over indulged with a slice of Butterscotch Caramel pie each. Wonderful taste and for my wife quite delightful. I am not such a sweet tooth, so while I liked it and considered it very high quality, I would be looking for something not quite so sweet next time.
For the kind of eating house the prices were a little on the high side. But service was excellent and the quality of food was very high standard. As the place had a large number of people coming and going all the time its obvious the prices were still within acceptable range for most. Many simply enjoyed coffee and a chat, others were apparently on their lunch break.
A tribute is that only a short walk down the mall one encounters a whole food court with a large variety of choices at very reasonable to low prices. Yet despite that Coffee Club was pretty much a full house during our visit. I would rake The Coffee Club very highly for those who want a nice meal and are prepared to pay a little more to ensure they get quality of food and service.

Cherry Blossom at South Gate Plaza

Japanese food is definitely not on the menu for my wife, so my recent visit to the new Cherry Blossom Sushi shop at the Southgate Shopping centre Reynella, was a solo expedition. Only in operation for a couple of months it is strategically located in the outside foyer of Coles Supermarket.
Clean looking young staff with a friendly smile always set the scene for a good experienced and that was obviously the case in the shiny clean premises.
I remembered the shop from its previous incarnation as an iceream and hotdog shop. I had a bad experience with some inedible hotdogs served by staff who looked as if they could not care less and served food to that standard. So it was really nice to see the place looking so clean with its new owners and offering Japanese food.
The displays are easy to look into and the food very well laid out. Such a good array of Japanese dishes that I found it quite difficult to make a choice. For those not so keen on raw fish there were rice cakes and rolls with cooked meats such as chicken and steak. The popular California roll was present, but for myself that tasty combination was quite overwhelmed by other prospects.
I eventually chose a rainbow bento pack and a couple of the rolls to test out. Teriyaki Chicken was one choice, Avocado with a Japanese Omelette the other. The Bento, or lunch pack, included the usual little squeeze bottle of soy sauce, a tear open package of pickled ginger and of course the inevitable tasty but hot Japanese Horse Radish known as Wasabi. One really needs to mix the Wasabi and Soy Sauce for the right combination, which is difficult without a small bowl. But I managed by using a corner of the Bento box.
First impressions of quality were proved correct when eating the content of the rainbow box. Colourful but tasty, each of the little rice cakes combined that exquisite way of mixing very subtle tastes together to present the palate with a very pleasant experience. The Squid sections were very good and quite large. Many shops present smaller sections for economy, but Cherry Blossom certainly did not stint on the size. Similarly the Tuna and Prawn cutlets were large and fresh which is so important when eating such delicate tastes blended together.
I gave top marks for the Bento box. Price was about the same as anywhere in this city, but quality of content was much higher than I have seen anywhere else.
The rice rolls were also excellent. Having recently had some in another eating house where they were so wet and gluggy that I could not help myself suggesting who ever prepared them should be given another job, I was a bit concerned. But the those at Cherry Blossom were made to perfection. You could bite into them and the remaining section held together perfectly. The rice was cooked just right, the other contents cooked really well, and the whole lot rolled together with skill.
As a rule Japanese meals are a bit small for Australians and therefore to get a good feed it can be a bit expensive as you need to buy more of it. Personally I felt what I had was quite sufficient and I am a large man. One also had to be impressed by the continual flow of customers coming in to purchase a meal, some to eat there and others to take away. It was also interesting to see small Aussie children happily eating the rice rolls with relish. During the thirty minutes I was there I only saw one Asian customer. The rest, and they were numerous, were very satisfied looking Australians of European or English background.
Obviously a great success, Cherry Blossom exudes an air of cleanliness and popularity. Very highly recommended.

Eating out the old way

In our recent wanderings we noted that although our southern region of the city has an enormous number of casual eating places, the old traditional fish and chip shops were getting hard to find.
So having seen that the Port Noarlunga fish and chip shop seemed to always have a lot of people going in and out, we decided to give it a try. An attempt to do it on Australia day had to be abandoned because the shop was so full of people waiting for their serve, it was nearly impossible to fit anyone else in.
Oh boy, fish is expensive these days, but having got over the shock of that I set about ordering what would have been fairly standard fare a couple of decades ago. Three large pieces of Butterfish and the minimum chips. Drinks caused the price to soar dramatically and the owner remarked that bottle and canned drinks were in his opinion, far too expensive.
Having received our bundle, wrapped in traditional newspaper style we headed for a nearby reserve to explore the content. There is something that is downright yummy about old style fish and chips. You know when eating it that the food is greasy but it adds to the enjoyment once you suppress all ideas of how unhealthy it probably is. As it was a rare event for us, my wife and I immediately forgave each other and got stuck in. Oh those chips. Really yummy and none of those frozen potato horrors one gets in some places. These had the full taste one expects and although far from crisp, they were certainly tasty.
The fish might have been expensive, but the size of each piece was good. The batter used was crispy, full of flavour and enhanced the taste of the very fleshy Butterfish.
A traditional Aussie meal that my wife and I no longer eat as often as when we were young, but delightful all the same.
Of course we also had to allow for that other Aussie tradition so we ate near the beach and threw some chips to the seagulls from time to time. We were happy, the seabirds were happy and if you want genuine old style fish and chips I can certainly recommend a visit to the old shop just east of the Noarlunga Jetty.