Review: Andre’s Cucina & Poleta Bar, Adelaide

Review: Andre’s Cucina & Poleta Bar, Adelaide

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There is something charming about the fact that every place we visit becomes a memory, a story to tell. If you look around you, you will realise that everybody is a storyteller. Everybody has a story to share, and everybody has the power to enchant. The difference I guess, is whether or not you want to harness that power and share that story.

I will always remember Andre’s Cucina as the first restaurant we went to after the big move away from Melbourne to Adelaide. It was the first time I met PZ (K’s cousin) who is now quite a dear friend. She turned up looking like a smexy lady that she is, and I felt instantly uglier and grubbier next to her. It was also my first foray into polenta and to this day, I am sadly not taken by it.

However, Andre’s Cucina serves more than just polenta. I should really point out that in fact, Andre’s Cucina serves amazing food. If I had been upset by all the good food I was leaving behind in Melbourne (And I was.) Andre’s did an amazing job in comforting me, letting me know that Adelaide does have its charms as I would soon find out myself.

The food at Andre’s is absolutely beautiful. The produce is top-notch, and the care and precision put into every dish shines through like a beacon. The flavours complement but shine through, having parties on your tongue, while you sit there enthralled by the stories Andre is telling you through his food. The service is nothing but efficient, and while the establishment is a little on the small and squishy side, it takes but just a bite to bring you into your own little private world of food bliss.

If you are in Adelaide, you should grab yourself a table at Andre’s. Sit back and let the stories roll over you. Trust me, you will be amazed by how much our little Adelaide has to tell.

Andre’s Cucina & Polenta Bar
94, Frome Street, Adelaide
08 8224 0004

Monday: 5.30pm – 11pm
Tuesday – Saturday: 11.30am till late
Friday & Saturday: Specific dinner seating times.

Review: The Mess Hall, Melbourne City

Review: The Mess Hall, Melbourne City

the mess hall

the mess hall

the mess hall

Breakfast in Melbourne city. I haven’t done that in awhile as I moved out of the city many years ago and driving all the way in for just breakfast really seems like a waste of time. Plus, everybody knows there’s a ton of other Melbourne brunch places that are way more exciting anyways. Right? RIGHT?

I ended up in The Mess Hall for brunch one morning, not entirely by choice. I was there because I had just been to Cumulus and was told that I had just missed their breakfast hour. Taking pity on me and my disappointed face, the helpful waiter directed us to The Mess Hall, which was how I ended up there.

The Mess Hall is an italian food restaurant that had signage that I couldn’t see. I nearly walked straight past it but the patrons sitting outside in the lazy morning sun clued me into the fact that a restaurant must be around the place somewhere.

Once inside, we were greeted with friendly smiles that lead very quickly to a table and menus.

Service however was a little slow. After what felt like forever, our food finally arrived: Hollandaise eggs with ham, spinach, hollandaise & dukkah on a sweet bun and Corn fritters served with avocado, cherry tomato, cream cheese and chilli.

The food was pleasant enough, though I wasn’t overly taken by the Hollandaise sauce. It seems nobody can beat homemade hollandaise sauce yet (made by Sefie, not me), ah well. The eggs were well poached, the corn fritters tasty.

Would I head back? I doubt it. While everything was pleasant enough, it just didn’t pack enough wow factor into the place, service and food to warrant a re-visit especially since I have moved out of Melbourne and am now one of those annoying tourists who tries to cram too much eating into one stomach. Oh wait, that’s really everybody. Never mind.

The Mess Hall on Urbanspoon

Restaurant review: Secret Recipe

Secret Recipe
03 9801 3335

Corner Stud Rd & Burwood Hwy
Wantirna South, VIC 3152
Secret Recipe Online

I don’t normally like going to restaurants that are ‘asian inspired’. Call me a snob, but I try to avoid them as they generally disappoint. But a dear friend, Siera, insisted on paying Secret Recipe a visit, and who am I to say no? After all, her obsession with Secret Recipe was my fault as well.

I think sometimes, the best way to go to a restaurant is to go without any sort of expectations. Because that’s what I did. I went without any expectations of grandeur, instead I thought I was going to be horribly disappointed but instead I found myself loving the food!

I will admit, the Char Kuey Teow wasn’t authentic. But authenticity is a slippery slope and the more I go through the mind-boggling number of malaysian/singaporean cuisine restaurants, the less inclined I am to talk about authenticity. So let’s skip right past that. Because despite the lack of wok hei, it was incredibly tasty. We were sharing two mains between three of us to have room for cakes so it took an absurd amount of willpower not to just finished the lot. Save to say, I wish we had more. Ah damn.

Looks can be deceiving. When this appeared on the table, I shook my head and thought “here comes the disaster”. It does look quite unappetizing, doesn’t it? What is this dish? It’s pumpkin and almond agnolotti with sage and shallot cream sauce. And of course, I had to eat my words just as much as I had to stop myself from licking the plate. Was this just a fluke or was Secret Recipe actually dishing out decent meals?

The mains were made really quick work of, especially between the three of us. We eagerly pushed the plates away and started contemplating dessert. After all, Secret Recipe is known for their cakes. That’s their hero product.

Here are the cakes we got:

I wouldn’t say that this is where the meal went downhill, but I will say that it’s funny how things worked out. I didn’t expect anything good from the mains and I was greeted with incredibly tasty dishes. I was expecting the cakes to be amazing, and they were so-so. Full of fatty, fatty cream and not much else. Ew.

I won’t even bother naming the cakes because I don’t think any of it was memorable. But that’s alright, because I’d still go back to Secret Recipe. Those mains!

Here’s another reason why I will go back. I left my brand new camera there, on the table. I went three days without realising it was gone. When I did, I couldn’t even begin to think where I had left it. In a fit of desperation I called up Secret Recipe and what do you know, my camera was there. Untouched, safe, and perfectly taken care of. I went to retrieve it immediately but I was so incredibly impressed by the service for having taken care of the camera and keeping it safe. Thank you.

Secret Recipe - Knox Ozone on Urbanspoon

Review: Cafe Italia @ Carlton, Melbourne – Happy Birthday to me!!!~~

Review: Cafe Italia @ Carlton, Melbourne – Happy Birthday to me!!!~~

Café Italia
(03) 9347 0638
66 University St
Carlton, 3053
Cafe Italia

Yay! It’s my birthday today! I’m celebrating it… by going to school and cleaning out the music department. Very birthday-like, I know.
But it’s okay because I managed to celebrate my birthday somewhat earlier this month at Cafe Italia with a few other birthday girls!

It’s easy to miss Cafe Italia while you walk down Lygon st. Blink and it’s gone! Well, that’s actually because it’s not on Lygon street. And I’ll be the first to admit that if I’m walking down Lygon street for italian food, looking in the small alleys wouldn’t be the first thing on my mind.

But thanks to the power of social media and the certain lure of free birthday desserts for January babies, I found myself having dinner there at Cafe Italia on a very rainy evening alongside Ms I Hua and Kat, fellow January babies!

I have to admit, I’m not very fond of having Italian in the Lygon street area. I think it’s the hype – hype always kills things. For all its hype, the meals I’ve had on Lygon have leaned towards mediocre and average. Though I am quite fond of Piccolo Mondo, but that’s another story.

Cafe Italia is situated in a tiny lane off Lygon, called University Street. It looks small from the outside, but the inside was rather huge with a nice casual yet classy feel about it. I’m not sure who holds the reins to the twitter account of Cafe Italia, but that was how we made our reservation – via twitter. God bless the age of social media!

Thanks to the rain and some rather slow traffic, I was late for the dinner date despite having left the house earlier than usual. Just goes to show you can’t plan for everything! So by the time I sat down at the table in a fluster, the girls had been waiting for a little while and we were all famished. So we thought we’d start with Antipasto di Carne – prosciutto, sopressa salami, pancetta and parmesan grissini served with chilli fried olives ($20.90).

And I should note here that I had a fantastic evening. Amazing company with good food does miracles to one’s happiness level, let me tell you that. But there was one small detail that marred the night: the antipasto came together with the main courses, not before. I thought these were appetizers? We were hanging out for it like you wouldn’t believe and just about we were about to ask where the appetizer was, a waiter came up with it. Along with the rest of our orders. Well then, antipasto just became a side! (And for the record, it was so-so).

I’ve never had roast lamb on pizza before, so when I saw this on the menu I practically pounced on it : Roast lamb, cherry tomatoes & yoghurt, mozzarella and herbs pizza. How awesome does that sound? It was yummy too! I really loved the generous helping of cherry tomatoes and loved how tasty the pizza was. Definitely something I’m going to try replicating myself!

But there was without doubt that the risotto was the star of the show: Risotto con funghi: wild mushrooms, porcini flour and truffle oil – how heavenly does that sound? I was in mushroom heaven. It was so incredibly fresh, every mouthful was like having mushrooms pop up all over your tongue. Absolutely delightful! If I could have more of that right now, I would. It was the best mushroom risotto I’ve ever tried, and I eat a lot of that stuff. Mushroom fanatic, that I am.

After we finished licking the risotto plate… ahem, I mean, after we finished our mains, it was time to bring on the cakes for the birthday girls!



I don’t remember the specific names of each cakes, but they were YUM! It was a pity that we were so full; we tried our best but we didn’t quite manage to finish all three slices. But we kept it with us nibbled on it while we chatted till it was past 10, and by looks of it, they were closing up and I’m pretty sure that while the wait staff were kind enough not to give us the evil eye, they would have been happy for us to leave so they could proceed with cleaning the place up – that’s how long we stuck around from 6.30pm!!

If you are in the area, do go try it out. Especially that mushroom risotto. Maybe even mail me some. I’m dying for some!

If you are a January baby, just let them know on twitter! And you will be eligible for a free cake to celebrate your birthday with!

Café Italia on Urbanspoon

Review: Innocent Bystander, Healesville

Review: Innocent Bystander, Healesville

Giant steps / Innocent Bystander
336, Maroondah Hwy
Healesville, 3777
(03) 5962 6111
Innocent Bystander.com

It’s been such a long time since I did a blog post! It’s been so busy around here but I think I’ve finally been able to get things sorted out. If you haven’t noticed, you might like to click through to the blog and check out the new layout. I’ve finally moved servers too, and that resulted in broken links coming in from Urbanspoon which will hopefully be resolved soon.

I have lots of posts to write and hopefully will be able to get them all organized soon but let’s start the ball rolling with a review of my visit to Innocent Bystander in Healesville.

Thanks to traffic, we were unfortunately half an hour late for our booking. When we arrived, our table had been given away (the restaurant did try to contact us, but phone was on silent, whoops). They apologized and promised us the next table available which came up in about 3 minutes. Good service, checked!

We were started off with sourdough bread and olives. Absolutely delicious sourdough bread at that. Speaking of bread, Innocent Bystander had the most amazing looking bakery which also smelled amazing. Take a look:

It looks good, hey?

The chips came along and they were sprinkled with truffle salt. And they were the yummiest, yummiest chips on earth. There’s something incredibly addictive about them! I am totally getting truffle salt and going all crazy all over them. Even now, I feel like driving back there just for those chips. Hmmm.

The mains came and we started with Duck and mushroom pie with carrot mash. This was carrot mash at its best, amazing texture and beautifully done. The pastry on the pie was really well done, crumbly and a dream to bite into. Unfortunately the inside of the pie was rather dry and not very memorable.

We also ordered the Coconut braised beef brisket with green papaya salad and & toasted peanuts. And unfortunately the beef brisket was a bit like the pie in that it was dry. But the accompanying green papaya salad was to die for. Amazingly fresh, the clean and refreshing taste that cuts right through… I was in love!

Innocent Bystander is also really famous for their pizzas. So we couldn’t let this visit go by without a Pizza on the table. We ordered Roast mushroom, ricotta salata, white truffle oil, garlic & Parsley. And I guess you can’t always order winners. K had tried their pizzas before and had been suitably impressed. But unfortunately while I normally adore mushrooms, there was just something not quite right with this pizza. The mushroom flavours overpowered anything else on the pizza and I’m not sure what mushrooms they were, but they weren’t the normal mushroomy flavour that I adore. Alright, that’s pretty vague, but all I can say for sure is that it wasn’t as great as I’d hope it’d be.

When the mains were done, it was time to pull out the desserts.

Flourless Chocolate cake with Vanilla Ice Cream – so so rich and so chocolatey! Wasn’t my dessert to gobble down so I can’t tell you too much about it, but I do know that the Vanilla Ice cream was fresh and extremely delicious.

The lemon tart was sweet and sour in just the right amount. Enough to make me gasp and pucker up but not too much that I didn’t want to eat it anymore. I don’t quite like sour things, you see. But Lemon tart is often the few exceptions I have. The pastry was so crumbly and just heavenly. A dessert that is A+++, that’s for certain!

If you are in the area, do check it out. White Rabbit Brewery is just next door together with the Beechworth Bakery. Both absolute delightful places to visit and eat and drink! (Especially the pale ale from White Rabbit – to die for).

Giant Steps / Innocent Bystander Winery on Urbanspoon