Review: Andre’s Cucina & Poleta Bar, Adelaide

Review: Andre’s Cucina & Poleta Bar, Adelaide











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

Popping my Fancy-pants cherry: Momofuku Seiobo (Part 1)

Popping my Fancy-pants cherry: Momofuku Seiobo (Part 1)

Momofuku. Momofuku Seiobo.

When I first started planning my trip to Sydney, I decided that I wanted to go to a fancy-pants restaurant. We’ve been food lovers, eaters and enthusiasts for long enough that I like to think that we would actually appreciate the experience, rather than just ‘this is food.’

It was hard to pick which restaurant to go to. I wanted to go to Quay. I wanted to go to Tetsuya. I wanted to go to so many places that I just couldn’t pick. But in the end we decided to go with Momofuku, because I’ve heard so much about the darn steamed pork buns and really wanted to try it for myself.

I have to split the post into two parts as I really don’t want it to get overly heavy and hard to digest in one seating. So here’s Part 1!

Making a Booking

To eat at Momofuku, you need to make a booking. No walk-ins. Bookings are made via their online booking reservation system only. No phone bookings accepted. But to make things even harder, spaces are strictly limited with the restaurant only seating between 30-40 people, therefore the fight for tables can get quite heated. You are only allowed to book up to 10 days in advance, new table bookings are made available on the reservation system at 10am (AEST) in the morning.

The good news is that as long as you are there at the computer on time and have a fast connection, you shouldn’t have too many issues with obtaining a booking. (Remember, 10 days in advance, no more no less!) If you delay for even a minute, you will be forced to sit and stare at the screen forlornly at rows of red crosses. When I made my reservation, I noticed that all seats were snapped up within 3 minutes. So you gotta move fast!

14 courses.. starting now!

We were seated at the kitchen bar, which I was extremely delighted with. Not only was the lighting much better for photos, but you were also able to watch the action as it went down. I had a lot of fun ‘stealing ideas’ and trying to work out what was going onto the dish before it got to us!

Things to take note of to help your reading:

The Boy opted for the Vegetarian Course, while I went with the normal standard fare. You will see a V labelled on some of the photos to signify the vegetarian dish.

The Boy opted for the juice pairing ($55), while I went with the wine pairing ($95). I will only be showing photos of the wine pairing, but will also mention what the juice pairing was under each photo.

First Course

1. Nori Cracker topped with Roe / Vego version omitted the Roe)
2. Smoked Eel / Vego version: Smoked Potato
3. Pig’s Blood Chip / Vego version: 5
4. Shitake Mushroom Mochi
5. Kimchi Chip / Not available on the standard menu.

Juice Pairing: Apple and Fennel

This was described to us as snacks. I was really curious to see how the vegetarian course was match up to the standard fare and was quite amused to see that even though the ingredients differed, our items still look quite similar which is why I’ve only shown you 5 out of 8 of the items – they looked the same!

The smoked eel / potato was quite fun to eat. Beautifully delicate, it exploded in my mouth sending me to the heavens as I took in the beautiful depth of flavour the little tube contained.

The Kimchi Chip had to be the hero of both dishes as it was incredibly addictive and very moreish. If I could get a whole bagful of that, I’d be quite the happy girl!

The Sake went beautifully with this course, and I mused over the fact that I would never be able to drink cheap sake ever again. I’ve only ever had cheap sake and much like cheap wine, once you’ve had the good stuff, you never want to go back!

Second Course

Momofuku Pork Bun: Vego version had shitake mushrooms instead of pork; served with Siracha sauce.

Juice Pairing: Apple and Fennel

The Famous Momofuku Pork Bun. Finally I get to eat you. I have long heard of this famous pork bun but couldn’t help but wonder how good could it be? Well.. the bun was definitely beautifully made, fluffy and melt in your mouth; the meat was gorgeous and the siracha sauce just kicked things up a notch. Everything was gorgeous but I couldn’t help but feel that it didn’t really live up to the hype.

Having said that, I would probably be quite happy to order more of that, I do think that it was a gorgeous bun, but I also felt that it wasn’t really as amazing as I had heard. The humble chinese steamed buns strike me as having more flavour than this version!

Third Course

Vego: Tomato Salad with Whipped Tofu and Yuzu Dressing.
Standard: Pink Snapper Sashimi with Celery and Green Mustard Dressing.

Juice Pairing: Cucumber

The whipped tofu had the most interesting texture. It was foamy and felt like it had come out from a siphon. (Maybe it did, who knows.) You could definitely taste the tofu though, and this just blew our minds – foamy tofu!?!?

I really enjoyed the pink snapper sashimi but being incredibly used to having strong wasabi with my sashimi, felt that the Green Mustard Dressing was rather lackluster.

Fourth Course

Vego: Onions with pieces of Rhubarb and Sea Lettuce.
Standard: Raw Kangaroo Island Scallop with Rhubarb dressing.

Juice Pairing: Cucumber

We were very intrigued by the vegetarian version of this dish. Definitely not similar in any way or form to the Scallop. Not just that, it had these plastic looking greens on it that were apparently sea lettuce. Hmmmm. It didn’t taste like plastic, which was a good thing. In fact, the whole dish was beautifully balanced and the textural elements made for a fun dish to eat. Out of both our dishes, I much preferred this one!

My scallop was fresh and juicy. However the rhubarb dressing was way too tart and sadly overpowered the scallop. I was left with an unpleasant taste in my mouth and tried quite hard to chase it away with my wine.

Fifth Course

Vego: Confit Potato in Olive Oil with Quandong and Watercress Emulsion.
Standard: Confit Potato in Beef Fat with Quandong, Bottarga, Beef Fat and Watercress Emulsion.

Juice Pairing: Watermelon

I loved this course so much!!!! All the exclamation marks in the world cannot express how in love I am with this dish. Confit potato in beef fat is the most genius cooking move ever! I had been feeling kinda deflated prior to this as the boy had won our little ‘Veg vs Standard’ competition so far in the taste test but the standard version of this dish blew his out of the water and shot his to pieces!

His dish did taste a lot cleaner, a lot healthier, so that’s a plus. But Confit potato in beef fat!!! Oh yeah baby. The flavour, the melt in your mouth potatoes, the salty bottarga…. I must try and cook this dish at some point!

Sixth Course

Vego: Grilled Watermelon, Radish and Fermented Black Beans.
Standard: Wagyu Beef, Radish and Fermented Black Beans.

Juice Pairing: Watermelon

Both dishes looks the same so only one photo for you. Where the difference lies is actually underneath all of that beautifully crisp Radish slices. We were skeptical about the grilled watermelon and as it turns out, it did seem to lack a certain heartiness to it as it was very clean and generally yummy but definitely lacking.

The Wagyu in my dish had been chopped up into small cubes, beautifully tender and both flavour and texture really lifted the dish up when contrasted with the fermented black beans and the crisp radishes. I really quite enjoyed this dish and cheered for another score on the ‘Vego vs Standard’ test!

I should also make a super big mention about the sake that accompanied this course. Firstly the pink appearance of the sake caught my eye, secondly it was incredibly sweet yet not cloyingly so. It was fragrant, smooth like silk and my gosh, I wanted to down an entire bottle down my throat that instant. I was so in love with it, I started asking the wait staff how much I could buy it for ($200++ if you are curious). Interesting facts I learnt about this Sake: it’s brewed by one of Japan’s few female brewers and is brewed from red rice. YUM!

Seventh Course

Vego: Slow Cooked Egg, Courgette, Zucchini Flower, and Black Garlic.
Standard: Roasted Quail, Courgette, Zucchini Flower, and Black Garlic.

Juice Pairing: Carrot

If you were keeping count of my little game, this is where I tell you that I managed to chalk up another win for my side. The quail (boneless!) was rich, tender and so beautifully flavoured that I felt like getting up and screaming my love for it. I don’t normally eat quail and after eating this, I question why not!

The boy’s dish wasn’t quite as exciting however. Still, beautifully clean, the textures were in perfect harmony with each other and it was definitely good to see him eat an egg yolk. He normally gives them to me. I was also very pleased to see the Zucchini flowers on our plates. I had noticed them earlier on the stove and had wondered which dish they’d appear in. Another point for not being a typical stuffed zucchini flower!

Stay tune for Part 2!! What do you think of the dishes so far? I can tell you that I’m in love, drooling, wanting more! However my wallet doesn’t quite agree and my physical location is a bit of a hindrance so I shall just have to rely on these photos and my memory to relive the moment over and over again.

Till next time!

Eating Out: Bar 9 @ Glen Osmond, Adelaide – The beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Eating Out: Bar 9 @ Glen Osmond, Adelaide – The beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Bar 9
08 8373 1108
96 Glen Osmond Rd
Parkside, SA 5063
Bar 9

Sometimes, relationships grow over time. Sometimes, it’s love at first sight. My relationship with Adelaide is definitely of the former, rather than the latter, and Bar 9 in Glen Osmond was definitely one of the reason for that relationship with Adelaide to grow favourably.

Breakfast is one of those meals that I tend to skip. I know it’s not exactly the healthiest thing to be doing, nor something I really should be all that proud of (I’m not!) but between sleep and breakfast, I tend to vote sleep. During weekends and holidays though, that’s a different thing. I love having breakfast and it usually starts my day on an incredibly positive note if I have a breakfast that I’m happy with.

On that particular morning, I sat in Bar 9 with the boy and Sherry. We had trekked to the other side of the city for breakfast because Sherry had highly recommended the place. She was nervous, she said, of recommending places to me. Nervous that I wouldn’t like the place. I didn’t think she needed worry as her favourite breakfast place didn’t disappoint, Bar 9 was really quite superb!

The decor of Bar 9 is that of a quirky nature. With their mirrors painted over with images of cups and coffee machines, I couldn’t help but relax into the easy going atmosphere. It really reminded me of Melbourne and its easy going breakfast cafes and I felt right at home instantly. Already in love with this place even before the food and the coffee, this can only mean better things are yet to come, right?

And come it did.

House Cured Ocean Trout – served on creme friache and dill on rye – $16 was Sherry’s dish. I couldn’t help feeling a pang of jealousy when the waitress popped this dish in front of her, it looked spectacular! Luckily, my table of friends seem to have adopted the unspoken rule of breakfast sharing and I managed to get a share of this absolutely beautiful breakfast as well. And just as well I did, as the freshness and cleansing feeling the dish contains needs to be tried to be believe. Incredibly refreshing, this is a breakfast dish that is destined to wake anybody up with a burst of sunshine in the mouth with just the nice touch of sea breeze to give you that extra morning kick.

Creamy Truffled Mushroom Ragu – on toast with poached eggs and finished with truffled honey. $17. Nothing screams indulgence more than truffles, and definitely nothing is more rich in the mouth than this creamy truffled mushroom ragu. I was rolling about in my ecstasy and couldn’t stop bragging about how amazing my breakfast dish was to my companions. Not that I really had anything to brag about, since their breakfasts were equally as good and I was going to have to share my breakfast with them anyways. But for that first few minutes, I must admit to a tinge of: “Ha Ha, this is awesome and you have none!”

Runcimans Breakfast – breakfast of champions: bacon, eggs, tomatoes and swiss brown mushrooms $17. This is the boy’s standard breakfast fare. If there’s a big breakfast of sorts on the menu, he’s bound to get it. Perfect really, that way he gets to gauge a cafe on a standard that is found in almost every breakfast cafe. This big breakfast was quite nice. It wasn’t spectacular, but it was definitely right up there with one of the best big breakfasts. Yummy bacon with juicy mushrooms, can’t get any better than that really.

Bar 9 definitely has something special going on. Even though it’s on the other side of the city to where I live, I’d still happily trek over on a weekend and indulge in some incredible food. Yum.

View Larger MapBar 9 on Urbanspoon

Eating Out: Brown Dog Cafe, Goodwood, Adelaide.

Eating Out: Brown Dog Cafe, Goodwood, Adelaide.

Brown Dog Cafe
08 8172 1752
143 Goodwood Rd
Goodwood, SA 05034

I don’t remember who recommended Brown Dog Cafe to me anymore. But in my hunt for more good breakfasts around Adelaide, this suggestion popped up from somewhere and never being one to turn down a recommendation, today found me nursing a chilli hot chocolate at Brown Dog Cafe.

The decor of Brown Dog Cafe is really quite homely and enchanting. There’s something about the place that just seem to ooze with ease and gently nudges you to relax into the embrace of Brown Dog Cafe. I noted with amusement the fact that they were licensed and wondered who would be drinking quite that early in the morning. (Then of course, I remembered that I was in Australia.)

There’s not too many tables in the rather small establishment. However, as more and more customers were ushered through their backdoor, I came to the realization that there was outdoor seating outback. “With a real good heater!” came the sales pitch from the staff as I watched them try to sell the idea of an outdoor seating to their customers in the midst of winter. I should point out that they were hugely successful in this pitch as all of the customers disappeared through the backdoor in search of this heater.

There’s been many mixed reviews about the service at Brown Dog Cafe. Mixed reviews make me nervous as it feels like I’m gambling. Will today be my lucky day? As it turns out, it was. The service could not have been better. Attentive staff that snapped to attention even with the slightest wrinkling of the brow, keen to ease out your pretty forehead with the beautiful aromas of coffee.

I went with a Chilli Hot Chocolate and the boy opted for his usual Cappuccino . I’ve never been all that pleased nor impressed with the chilli hot chocolates I’ve tried around the place. It’s never quite enough heat for me, and it feels rather lame to be drinking a hot chocolate that touts itself as having chilil and not being able to taste the chilli nor feel the heat. But I was bent upon my quest to find a good chilli hot chocolate so in went the order, with hopes that this would be a good one.

The verdict? This was one of the best, if not the very best chilli hot chocolate I’ve ever had the fortune to taste. Flavourful, not overly rich, and yet still bursting with heat. The sprinkling of cayenne pepper over the top brought life to the hot chocolate and I smiled contentedly over my hot chocolate over at the boy. Life was good.

The boy ordered the Spanish Dog Breakky – eggs, paprika flavoured baked beans, chorizo sausage, roasted tomato, relish and toast $16.90. He also requested for extra hash browns ($3.50). I suspect that the many elements on his dish was ultimately the fault of our long wait. Tables around us that had ordered after us received their order before ours even made an appearance, which was a little depressing. Still, you couldn’t fault the generosity of the portions on the plate. They were huge!

The hero of the dish for me was definitely the relish. Tasting decidedly homemade and very delicious, I could have eaten the relish on everything. In fact, I ended up buying a takeaway container of the relish to bring home! (I’ll be making burgers with it, yum!) The baked beans were also very tasty, none of that mushy overcooked baked beans stuff you get from cans! I marvelled continually over the skill of cooking they had shown to the hash browns and the chorizo sausage, they were impeccable and so very tasty!

The downfall of the dish, I am sad to say, was the eggs. The boy had requested them poached, and one would normally expect a gush of rich golden yellow yolk as the knife broke open the white. But this was not the case with his poached eggs. Sadly overcooked, the yolk made a pathetic attempt at being runny, but failed short of being anywhere near spectacular. The bread was also nothing remarkable. Pity.

For myself, I had ordered Miss Florentine – poached eggs, baby spinach, smoked salmon, hollandaise & toast – $15.90. I tend to opt for a more delicate breakfast and I couldn’t go past the hollandaise and smoked salmon. If those are on the menu, then they belong in my tummy. In fact, this particular menu item seemed to have been very popular as I saw multiple copies of this dish making their way around the cafe.

As a whole, I think the dish worked together nicely. However, I was disappointed by the hollandaise sauce. While the texture was beautifully silky and smooth, it also didn’t taste of hollandaise. There was no richness, no flavour. I think I am eternally spoilt by the homemade hollandaise sauce Sefie made. Nothing will ever compare.

And similarly, the bread was a bit of a letdown.

The eggs weren’t as overcooked as on the boy’s plate, but they were still more cooked than I’d normally have them. Ah well.

So while this dish had been pretty spectacular visually, and was generally pleasant, there lack any sort of wow factor to it. Still, I finished up my dish and smiled happily as I wiped up the rest of my chilli hot chocolate. Maybe sometimes, you don’t always need a dish to wow. Maybe sometimes, being pleasant and generally yummy was enough.

As I got up to pay, I saw this corkboard filled with pictures of different dogs. I had read on Yelp that this cafe had been named by the owner in reference to his own labrador retriever and such a show of love for our four-legged friends filled me with warm fuzzy feelings.

So while this place hadn’t wow on so many levels, it also fulfilled me in so many corners of my heart that other cafes hadn’t. The beautifully warm atmosphere, the caring environment, that wonderful chilli hot chocolate….

Would I come back? Oh yes, I would. Some things, you can’t buy with money, and this is one of it.

View Larger MapBrown Dog Cafe on Urbanspoon