Wednesday, August 21, 2013

TGI Fridays

TGI Fridays
Level 3, Melbourne Central, Corner La Trobe & Swanston Street, Melbourne
(Ph) 9650 3322

N was in Melbourne again! Since we were going to Europe soon and we've had a lot of Asian food lately with my parents being around I wanted something different. I heard TGI Fridays had opened up recently in Melbourne Central so thought we'd go check it out - had been meaning to go to the Jam Factory one a few times but never got around to it. We were hungry and were wanting lots of meaty unhealthy American food =D

We got there at 6pm on a Saturday night and omg there was already a 30 minute wait =/ since it was still early we decided to wait and starve ourselves a little bit first. They gave us a buzzer but said the buzzer only works right outside the restaurant so what's the point of having a buzzer might as well just call out names but anyway =/ we went for a walk and came back in 20mins and our buzzer went off - yay!

It's got a very American feel inside but not as much as Misty's Diner =P still has the red booths but also has a bar and large screens for watching sports - so a mix between Aussie bar and American diner? It's not actually that big inside - didn't think so 'cause China Bar wasn't that big beforehand anyway, so no wonder there was a long waiting time.

P wanted to get a jug of Sangria or something to share but they don't do jugs here =/ so we just got a glass.. Sangria - good news, we spiked the punch! Tropical juices and red wine combine for a fruity flavour that's all grown up $9.25

Thought it'd be bigger than that =/ It was alright, wasn't as fruity as we'd have liked it and they put way too much ice in it.

I had a buy-1-main-get-1-free voucher so we decided to get an entree and 2 mains to share. For entree we got an appetizer to share. Friday's Three For All - a winning combination of loaded potato skins, juicy pork riblets and tangy buffalo wings. Served with sour cream and spring onions, BBQ sauce, Bleu Cheese dressing and celery sticks $29.95

This was huge! Their loaded potato skins are their specialty - cheesy and bacony, would be nice if the skins were crispier though 'cause they were a bit soft. The buffalo wings were really good - delicious with the bleu cheese sauce! I love pork ribs, and these were delicious and fall-off-the-bone but there were lots of little bits of bone which you can't really see - I bit right into where I thought was soft meat and really hurt my teeth - happened a few times =(

P loves his fajitas so when he saw there was a tower he insisted on getting it. Char-grilled Chicken & Beef Sizzlin' Fajita Tower - one-and-a-half feet of Sizzlin' Fajita fun. Char-grilled chicken and beef served on a platter of grilled onions and peppers. Wrap the meat and vegetables in warm flour tortillas, then topped with cheese, sour cream, pico de gallo and guacamole $28.95

After the massive entree platter we were slightly disappointed at the size of the tower. Yes it was 3 levels, but there wasn't that much meat on the sizzling plate and it definitely wasn't sizzling when it came to our table unlike at other restaurants (Taco Bill, Fiesta Mexican). Flavours were good though, not spicy at all which we liked =) Though they were very generous with the soft tortillas (about 6 or so?) compared to Fiesta Mexican's measly 3!

For the second main we got Jack Daniels Half Rack Ribs & Shrimp - a half-rack of Cajun-spiced baby back pork ribs, char-grilled and glazed with our Jack Daniel's sauce, with a handful of our Cajun shrimp, battered and fried, served with crispy fries $34.95

P and N wanted prawns and I wanted ribs so we got both! But we were a bit disappointed at the size of the dish - I know it says half rack of ribs but it was a very small half =( This rack also had little bits of bone in it so hurt our teeth again =/ The prawns looked a bit tacky with bits of the batter falling off the meat so they weren't not properly battered - still it was quite tasty with the Jack Daniel's BBQ sauce. Chips were good though - nicely seasoned and crispy.

P was a bit disappointed with the main dishes so didn't want dessert here =( I had wanted to try the Brownie Obsession - a warm brownie covered in hot chocolate fudge sauce, vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce and chopped pecans $12.95 - picture looked so tasty but we decided to go elsewhere for dessert. 

4/10 - quite overrated and expensive for what you get, we still spent like $30 each even though we had a voucher, what if we didn't?! would have recommended the ribs if not for the many little bones in it =/

3/5 - the waiters here are very in the mood, they sing this TGI's birthday song for birthday guests (3 times in the one night!) and they're all into it so was quite entertaining. There wasn't any big sports match on tonight or I'd imagine the bar would be very loud. You can sit inside or outdoors on the balcony - would be nice on a summer's night but not right now in this cold =P

3/5 - service was alright on this night, read other ppl had to wait ages for their food but ours came relatively quickly


TGI Fridays on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 19, 2013

Taco Bill (Windsor)

Taco Bill
69 Chapel St, Windsor
(Ph) 9510 9800

Catching up with J - I didn't want European food 'cause I'm going there soon and I'd had too much Asian food lately so wanted something else... Mexican! I know the Taco Bill at Camberwell gives 40% off mains on Mondays and Tuesdays so thought we'd go there, but then I looked on the Taco Bill website and the Windsor store actually gives 50% off mains on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays!

Not too busy on this Tuesday night - didn't expect it to be or they wouldn't give so much discount on these nights, I wonder how they still survive with giving so much discount? I guess they expect you to order entree/dessert and drinks.

J got the Quesadilla suprema - large flour tortilla filled with frijole con queso, cheese, tomato, onion, our house-made salsa fresc and your choice of filling. Baked then topped with guacamole and pico de gallo and served with rice - frijole con queso $19.50

Quite a huge quesadilla! I thought they usually toast it on the outside for you?

I was hungry so wanted to try the Enchilada nuevo Mexico - you have to be hungry! Three high stack of corn tortillas, "New Mexico style", filled with your choice of beef or chicken, onions and cheese.. covered with mild chile sauce, topped with an egg and melting cheese. Served with frijoles and rice and a taco $23.95

And omg it was HUGE! It's like the Combination platter (see my visit at Collins Street) but even bigger! I like how they give you a fried egg on top of the enchiladas with lots of melted cheese =D The chicken meat was braised and very soft and tender - the same meat was served in the enchiladas and the taco... they should let you choose what meat you want in what wrap so you're not eating all just one flavour 'cause by the end of the meal it all tastes the same =P

6/10 - quite good Mexican food... for $12 definitely well worth it!

1/5 - I read on the Taco Bill Facebook site that all customers should receive complimentary chips and salsa every visit (like we did on our last visit to Collins Street) but we didn't get any, and neither did other tables at this store. So I told them on Facebook and now they're giving me a gift voucher to compensate so yay =)

3/5 - very ambient lighting inside, can sit indoors or outdoors but it was too cold on this night to sit outside =P


Taco Bill Windsor on Urbanspoon

Click here for the CBD (Collins Street) store review..

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Red Spice Road QV

Red Spice Road QV
31-37 Artemis Lane, Melbourne
(Ph) 8660 6300

I had come here ages ago but for some reason never blogged about it! So back-blogging now =)

After a very pleasant experience at the McKillop Road store, we decided to take some Brisbane friends here to try out some fusion food - they had initially wanted Chin Chin but we didn't want to wait like 2hrs for dinner. Came here on a Saturday night and surprisingly it was quite empty though we were pretty early like 6ish.

They have the paintings of three naked Asian ladies like at the McKillop store - different paintings but add to the Asian fusion atmosphere.

Quite a nice big bar area up the front...

And a long area of tables up the back, much nicer lit compared to the McKillop Road one where you get a lot of natural sunlight here =)

We wanted to try an entree as we hadn't tried one before. Watermelon with Sticky Duck and Cashew Relish $7.50

Quite an interesting combination of flavours - braised sweet duck meat with some cashew crunch on the outside and a sweet refreshing piece of watermelon, seems all a bit random together but is quite interesting.

Soft Shell Crab fried with Snake Beans, Wild Ginger, Basil and Black Pepper Sauce $34.00

Omg look at the proportion of snake beans to crab compared to the one we ordered at McKillop Road?! So even though it's the same menu item they make it very differently at the 2 stores - I think I like the McKillop Road one where they were more generous with the crab =P Also this felt like it was more deep fried than stir fried, though the other one was kinda like that too.

The famous Pork Belly with Apple Slaw, Chilli Caramel and Black Vinegar $35.00

Just as we remembered it from last time - pork belly was crunchy on the outside and soft and braised inside to perfection =) The only downside was they were way too generous with the coriander on the salad for my liking - more apple would be better!

We tried something new this time - Twice Cooked Lamb Ribs with Mint, Lychee and Avocado Salad $35.00

Lots of mint (and coriander ugh) in the salad. Had to really search through the pile of salad to find the lamb ribs =P They weren't very meaty and because of that the meat was a little dry, but I think lamb ribs are just like that, unlike pork ribs (my fave) <3 Still the flavours were good, and they tried to crunch up the outside and be soft inside but there's just not that much meat on them to achieve optimal results =/

Another visit to Red Spice Road QV a few months later wasn't as pleasant as the first one =( We had made a booking for 8pm but when we got there the waiters said there was still a bit of wait for a table and asked us to take a seat at the bar. 20 minutes later we were still not seated and we asked the waiters again and she said unfortunately the table hadn't left yet - well if the table is booked for 8pm then they just gotta tell them they have to leave! Can't be nice to them but not to us! o_Oa finally at 8.40pm we were finally seated - we were soo hungry that we really weren't in the mood for much anymore =/ We of course had to order the Pork Belly and the Soft Shell Crab again, but also ordered the Crocodile Jungle Curry with Baby Corn and Apple Eggplant $35.00

I don't remember if I've had crocodile meat before - it tastes like a cross between chicken and fish! Actually quite interesting I thought it'd be quite tough. Though this curry was very spicy so beware!

8/10 - just as good as the McKillop Road one, pretty much the same menu, and again would definitely recommend the Pork Belly and Soft Shell Crab =)

1/5 - the first visit was good but the second time was appalling, they really need to work on their booking management =/

4/5 - much nicer and newer than the main store, better lighting too

Red Spice Road QV on Urbanspoon

Click here for a review of the McKillop Road store..

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Beans & Bagels

Beans & Bagels
121 Johnston St, Fitzroy
(Ph) 9417 0006

Bagels with E! =) Entertainment book had a voucher for this place so thought we'd check it out. We were going to walk there but it was pouring so no exercise for the day =P

We both wanted the Salmon Benedict - poached eggs, smoked salmon and hollandaise sauce on a bagel from the dine in only menu, which the waiter said came with a coffee. On the menu it said it was ~$13 and didn't say anything about a coffee, maybe because we were using the voucher we had to get a coffee too? Then he said the voucher was only up to $10 value o_Oa so in the end we paid ~$17 even though it was meant to be buy-1-get-1-free hmm..

My Chai Latte was pretty good though I'm not a pro coffee drinker =)

Yum! Looked delicious =) They didn't ask us what flavour bagel we wanted so we both got plain not that I would have minded. One of my poached eggs was perfectly soft yolk but the other one was overdone and wasn't runny enough =(

This was the good egg =)

Would have been nicer if they were more generous with the hollandaise sauce but overall was a very tasty dish. Bagel was quite dense so was difficult to cut but all bagels are like that so can't complain there.

5/10 - pretty good benedict, though all the breakfast dishes were the typical, would be nice if they had something special/unique like at Manchester Press with more choices.

3/5 - food came quite promptly

3/5 - quite a nice chilled cafe on Johnston Street =)


Beans & Bagels on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 12, 2013

Cafe de KIKAKU

Cafe de KIKAKU
20 Waterview Walk, Docklands
(Ph) 9670 6828

Catch up with the dancing crew =D No one had any restaurants in mind so of course I consulted my Entertainment book - this cafe seemed to have quite good reviews on Urbanspoon so thought we'd check it out.

Cute little cafe, very high ceilings like it's an old warehouse, no central heating so they have those outdoor heaters inside! How funny though much appreciated on this super cold rainy night =)

Random Mexican looking candles on our table?

We decided to share some entrees and mains. The waitress also suggested we order this so we got it as well. Salmon Croquettes - Japanese Seven Spices Salmon Croquettes w Kimchi Aioli $10

Looked a bit small and lousy - 7 spices salmon? Really? Couldn't taste much spice at all, and the kimchi aioli didn't have much kimchi flavour either =/ Was quite nicely fried but nothing too special here at all - not sure why the waitress said this was super popular..

I wanted the Jalapeno Soft Shell Crab - Tempura soft shell crab w/ sour creme & housemade jalapeno jam $15

Quite generous with their crab but you'd expect that for a $15 entree. Perfectly fried but not too oily either, the sour creme and jalapeno jam was kinda separate, and the jalapeno was quite bitsy so kinda hard to dip it - in the end can't really taste it but I didn't mind don't like jalapeno much anyway =P The cured cucumber salad was quite a nice sweet yet tangy side dish which they gave on a few dishes.

T wanted the Salmon Belly Misozuke (very limited availability) - oven roasted 8 days white miso-aged salmon belly w/ aromatic grilled bamboo rice $16. We were kinda expecting it to not be available as I had read many reviews about them not having half their menu items available but everything we wanted on this night was available =)

Really it's been roasted for 8 days?! Plus minus a day or 2 maybe? The salmon was very soft and
nicely cured with miso - quite a unique way of cooking it, like it's been sous-vide =) The rice ball in the bamboo leave was a bit random though - didn't taste grilled at all, just tasted like sushi rice =/ Side of cucumber and kimchi again which was nice - so a mix of Japanese and Korean?!

For mains we got the N.Y. Galbi - Korean Style BBQ flame-grilled slowly braised beef short rib (please Google search our cafe what we are famous for or ask our loyal regular) $20

We were tossing between this or the Many hours roasted spices slow cooked BBQ Lamb Ribs, Balinese King Style (our specialty dish that requires you using hands to eat and lick as you finish) but the waitress said the beef ribs was more popular. Both of these seem to be popular dishes but they really don't need to put that in the brackets (for both the dishes!) - seems really lame and desperate =/ Though, this beef rib was so tender and soft and full of flavour - sweet yet tangy. There was no bones in it at all so I don't know how they can call it ribs but anyway - definitely a recommended dish! Cucumber and kimchi again here =P

C wanted the Bon-bon Chicken - our famous Korean version of sticky sweet and sour chicken glazed with Kochujang Red Pepper & juiced up with chunky Green Apple $19

Fried chicken! Cute presentation on a little steam basket (it's actually upside down so there wasn't as much chicken as we thought there'd be =P) not sure where the chunky green apple was but it was delicious without it. Though this wasn't fried as well as the other fried dishes - the crumb came off the chicken very easily =/ The sweet and sour sauce was quite flavoursome but was a bit too thick for my liking.

Thought we'd get some carbs dishes too to fill us up. GYUTAN Fried Rice - garlic chilli marinated OX Tongue, Egg, Negi Onion, smoked Japanese Bonito shavings $18.8

We were really looking forward to the ox tongue in the fried rice but they were cut into such small pieces could barely taste it's ox tongue =/ If you forget it's ox tongue fried rice this was quite flavoursome - I like the bonito shavings on top.

Last came the Bangkok Pad Thai - noodle, chicken, egg, smoked chilli roasted peanut toasted dried baby shrimp floss $17

Bit of Japanese, bit of Korean, why not a bit of Thai too? Served on an Indian curry metal bowl lol. Thought there was only meant to be chicken in it but there was some sort of red meat in it too - so they chuck whatever leftover meat they have into the pad thai as well? Flavours were quite good, there was surprisingly more meat than noodles for my liking, and there wasn't any bean shoots =( random 2 prawn crackers? =P

We were pretty full by the end of it, but T had bought a Brunetti's cake for dessert for us to celebrate 3 birthdays (belated and early =P) The waitress asked if if we wanted the dessert menu, we said no 'cause we had cake, but she sees that we had finished eating but didn't bother to clear our table =/ We kept chatting 'cause we were pretty full and she doesn't come to clear the table until we ask her again and to bring out the cake. She finally clears our table and brings the cake out... still in its box and it's bag?! O_O we stared at her then she asks if we want some small plates... we stare at her some more and then she asks if we wanted the cake on a plate... and if we wanted candles O_O omg why else would we bring a cake to a restaurant if we didn't want to eat it there?! The thing is, the table next to us were also celebrating a birthday and the waitress had brought the cake out with candles and everything just before we asked for ours... what the?! She takes about 10mins before bringing out the cake with some candles and some small spoons for us... we sang "Happy Birthday" and blew the candles before we realised she hadn't given us a knife O_O did she expect us to cut the cake with tiny spoons?! We asked her for a knife and she looked at us like we were asking something unusual, goes into the kitchen and asks the chef for a knife... who gives her a HUGE knife (like a 40cm knife)... omg we were cutting the cake like it was a sword =/

Cake was good though =P some lemon white chocolate cake from Brunetti's =) the chocolate pieces surrounding the cake were so deceiving, they were yellow but tasted just of white chocolate - we were expecting it to have some lemon flavour or something! A bit too much cream on the top for my liking but the cake was very moist with some lemon mousse-like layers between too =)

6/10 - foods not quite fusion, actually, they call themselves "pan asian" whatever that means =P the beef ribs and the soft shell crab are definite musts =)

2/5 - quite a casual chilled restaurant to hang out, more heaters around us would be even better it was freezing on this night!

1/5 - omg unbelievable service by the waitress.. dunno what was going through her mind =/


Cafe de KIKAKU on Urbanspoon Brunetti on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Poynton's Nursery Cafe

Poynton's Nursery Cafe
Corner Vida & The Boulevard, Essendon
(Ph) 9337 8111

Had to pick up parents from the airport but only had about 2 hours to get some quite afternoon tea so went somewhere close to the airport. I never eat around north/west side of Melbourne so had absolutely no idea - went to search the Entertainment book again =P

Came across this cafe inside a nursery along the Maribyrnong River - the nursery was huge! All sorts of plants and herbs and fruits and flowers and everything! I think I might come back again to get some stuff to grow - though I'm not very good at it, I've killed multiple herb plants and even a cactus before! =/

The cafe would havee been really nice with the river view though on this afternoon they were painting the cafe walls so everything was covered up and the tables were stacked up and didn't feel very inviting at all =( 

We had to get some food here so sat down anyway. I got a Iced Mocha $5.20

While dad got a Strawberry Milkshake $6.50. Bit expensive for a milkshake hmm

The only savoury dishes they had now were some open toasted sandwiches. Braised lamb with house made eggplant dip and yoghurt dressing $16.00 - a bit expensive? This wasn't quite what I expected for the open toasted sandwich - more like a toasted turkish bread. The braised lamb was quite flavoursome though was a bit dry from being baked in the oven and couldn't really taste the eggplant dip.

Scones - these delicious light and moist scones are served with jam and freshly whipped cream $7.30. Scones were indeed light and fluffy - delicious with the jam and cream =)


Chef's Speciality.. Tiramisu - this simply irresistible treat is house made, with sponge finger biscuits soaked in coffee and Frangelico liqueur, layered with whipped mascapone cream and chocolate powder $8.30

Mum and I both love tiramisu but this looked a bit sad - a mush of cream with some chocolate powder on top. There was more cream than cake/sponge fingers - way too much cream for our liking =/ We saw later when they uncovered the cake cabinet (after they finished painting over that part of the restaurant) that the tiramisu was actually a big tub of mushy cream - doesn't look very appetizing at all, how is this chef's speciality?!

Probably wouldn't come back just for the cafe but maybe if I come back for the nursery!


Monday, August 5, 2013

Zen Japanese Restaurant

Zen Japanese Restaurant
388 Burwood Rd, Hawthorn
(Ph) 9818 0116

My parents were in town! Dad loves a good Japanese meal so I searched the Entertainment book for a place - found something local! I've actually driven past this restaurant multiple times before =)

A little cosy restaurant - must be a gem as there were lots of Japanese people dining there on this night! They're actually a group with another Zen restaurant and also a Jap/Korean restaurant in the city?!

We were seated in the corner where the lighting was terrible! There were 2 little candles on the table but that was about it - poor dad couldn't read the menu he forgot his reading glasses! =P So apologies for the flash in the photos ><

We were started off with some par-boiled broccoli with some miso paste - random much? =P

Our favourite Jap entree! Edamame - boiled green soy bean $7 so much fun eating these, so tasty and addictive =)

We always get Agedashi Tofu at Japanese restaurants so we decided to get this instead. Tofu Dengaku - deep fried tofu coated w potato starch, served w Homemade sweet MISO paste $9. So much tastier than Agedashi tofu as agedashi is always swimming in the broth so the crumb is always soggy, but this was deliciously crunchy with the miso paste =)

Another tasty entree! Nasu Dengaku - deep fried egg plant w homemade sweet MISO paste $10. The eggplant is not usually deep fried so it was much tastier with a crunchy skin on the outside - again was delicious with the miso paste =)

Next came the Seafood Tempura - 2 pcs of Tiger Prawns, 3 pcs of each Prawn, Fish, Calamari & Vegetable $27 What a big plate of tempura - perfectly deep fried and delicious with the dipping sauce. The prawns and fish were quite fresh though the calamari wasn't as nice though - wasn't chewy and was kinda soft =/

We saw the table next to us had ordered a sizzling plate which looked quite appealing so we got the Yakiniku - thinly sliced premium scotch fillet marinated in YAKINIKU sauce & cooked w mixed vegetables $22

Wasn't the one the other table had ordered which was actually the steak (they were still thinly sliced compared to a slab of Western steak though!) - this was more like a stir fry though was still quite good.

P got a Steamed Rice $2 to go with it - how is this steamed rice?! Well it was steamed, though was 5 grain rice which P wasn't a fan of.

Last came the Sushi & Sashimi Combo - MAIN 8 pcs of nigiri, 16 pcs of sashimi $35

Love <3 very fresh sashimi, sushi was good too my favourite was the eel - a super thick tasty slice =)

7/10 - good fresh food here, very genuine Japanese food as can be seen by all the Japanese people there!

3/5 - very attentive service by the waiters

2/5 - a bit too dark for our liking, we could barely see what we were eating!


Zen Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon