Thursday, 28 March 2013

The Classroom

Yay! It's finally time for my monthly date with JL and yes, of course she chose the venue.  I've wanted to check out The Classroom for a while but it's a bit out of the way and there's not much to do around there.  Nevertheless we finally made it and we were pretty excited.

As we stepped inside, we were faced with a bar and wooden tables and chairs resembling those from primary schools past.  It was very different.  As I was taking it all in,  I wondered whether we (or should I say 'I') would fit in those chairs as they looked quite small.  Luckily, we fit and nothing was broken.

The menus were files covered with a variety of patterned contact paper, another reminder of primary school when you covered any book or file with that weird and wonderful sticky plastic.  I hated getting bubbles when I covered my books!  Yes, nerd alert...

JL and I decided to order three dishes only because we usually order too much and can't fit in dessert, so this time we had to make sure we have enough room for dessert.  As soon as we decided, I went to order our food from the 'teachers' (that's what they call their bar/wait staff) at the bar.

Our order
Three fried mice - stuffed jalapenos, coriander, aioli, salted lime rim $10
Zucchini fritters, cucumber and feta whip $14
Atlantic salmon, lightly cured, served in a smoking jar with scattered potato salad $17

Coconut panna cotta, fresh mango and cardamom tuile $12

I was handed a beeper and told to pick up our order at the canteen when the beeper 'beeps'.

Food and presentation - 3.5/5
The food at The Classroom is quite nice but nothing spectacular and I didn't have a stand out dish.  However, I really liked the presentation of their dishes especially the salmon in the jar.

Three fried mice $10
Zucchini fritters, cucumber and feta whip $14
Atlantic salmon, lightly cured, served in a smoking jar with scattered potato salad $17
Coconut panna cotta, fresh mango and cardamom tuile $12

Service - 3/5
It's mostly self serve here, you order at the bar with the 'teachers' and pick up your order at the 'canteen.'  They did bring out our drinks though.  The staff although not overly friendly were polite enough, they all acted as if they were too cool for school...

Atmosphere - 4/5
Love the old school d├ęcor, reminds me of my primary school days. School bags lining the wall, children's drawings, a netball hoop and contact covered menu folders are just a small example of what you will find at The Classroom.

My only complaint was that the tables were really small and the chairs became uncomfortable after a while, but it's not enough to deter me from coming back.  

Value for money - 3.5/5
Prices are comparable to similar style restaurants, but they don't have the novelty aspect like The Classroom.

Happy to come back for another meal, for drinks or a dose of nostalgia.

Taste Test Total Score 14/20

The Classroom on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Kuza Urban Japanese Food

Tonight, I left my hubby at home and caught up with a couple of my favourite girlfriends, SA and LT.  It's been a while since our last catch up and as usual we decide where to go last minute.  LT wanted Japanese so we ended up at Kuza Urban Japanese Food, a restaurant I've wanted to try but have been reluctant to go because of mixed reviews and knowing that it wasn't owned or run by Japanese people. 

I got there first and was greeted by an unsmiling waitress who asked me if I had a booking I didn't but that was fine, she sat me at the other end of a table already occupied by a couple (which was a bit awkward).  SA and LT arrived shortly after and we managed to pick a few items from the large selection, using a menu that was not at all user friendly.

Our order
  • Scallop Ceviche (Scallop Sashimi served with Avocado, Tomato & Spanish Onion with a Citrus Sesame Dressing) $18 
  • Kamo Ro-Su (Seared Duck Breast with Rocket Leaves & Pear Slices topped with a Creamy Mustard & Sake Sauce) $18 
  • Assorted Sushi Mori (5 assortments of Chef's Selection of the Day) $18 
  • Truffle Chirashi Roll (Tuna, Salmon, Truffle Sauce) $16 
  • Soft Shell Crab (Fried Soft Shell Crab served with Fresh Watermelon Pieces & Ginger Vinaigrette) $19 
  • Linley Valley Free Range Pork Belly (Twice Cooked Pork Belly served with Miso Apple Puree & Horseradish & Parsnip Slaw) $22 
  • Green Tea Mousse with Azuki Beans $12 
  • Black Sesame Panna Cotta with Fruits of the Forrest $12 
  • Creme Brulee with Raspberry Vodka Sorbet $12
  • Green Tea x 3 $9 ($3 each) 
  • Green Tea Plum Wine x 2 $14 ($7 each)

Food & Presentation - 3/5
For a restaurant selling themselves as serving urban Japanese food, I was a bit disappointed.  Don't get me wrong, the food was nicely presented but it just wasn't that great especially for the price you are paying.  Let's start from the beginning, the assorted sushi mori and truffle chirashi sushi came out first, the taste was not bad but the rice tasted like it wasn't cooked with enough water and I think they had completely forgotten to add vinegar to it.  The duck breast was cooked well, the meat was pink but the salad was drenched in dressing which was overpowering and made the rocket soggy.  Scallop sashimi with avocado is not the best pairing, bland plus bland, soft plus soft, you couldn't really differentiate the texture or taste by much and there was way too much onion.  By this time, I said to SA and LT, " you realise we have found something to complain about with every dish so far?"  The soft shell crab was a bit overfried and a bit too salty, the watermelon balanced the saltiness, however, I couldn't taste the ginger in the vinaigretteLast but not least, the pork belly which was not bad was accompanied by a slaw which was unpalatable, I could not make myself eat it.
Assorted Sushi Mori $18
Truffle Chirashi Roll $16
Kamo Ro-Su $18
Scallop Ceviche $18
Soft Shell Crab $19

Linley Valley Free Range Pork Belly $22
We were not full and were tossing up between ordering sashimi to clear our palates (surely you can't go wrong with sashimi) or having dessert.  We opted for dessert which tasted nice but (1) the green tea mousse was more like a cream than a mousse, it was not fluffy or airy at all, (2) the black sesame panna cotta was not hard enough, it was the same texture as the mousse and (3) the creme brulee was the right consistency but we were sharing the dessert so it ended up being one big plate of cream.

Green Tea Mousse with Azuki Beans $12
Black Sesame Panna Cotta with Fruits of the Forrest $12
Creme Brulee with Raspberry Vodka Sorbet $12

Service - 3/5
Apart from one male staff who constantly smiled and was very polite, I don't think the rest of the staff got taught how to smile.  They were not rude but they were not friendly either.  SA managed to scare the living daylights out of one of the waiters (who we think is a newbie) when she asked him to refill our tea.  They did refill our tea a couple of times but missed either SA or I each time, not sure why.
Atmosphere - 3.5/5
Nicely decorated with an open kitchen.  I loved the Japanese wine/sake display, the lights and the Japanese newspapered ceiling, although not too sure about the mural (which I managed to forget to take a photo

Value for money - 3/5
The size of servings were small and lacked quality for the prices charged.

I won't be going back to Kuza again but a friend did tell me that lunch is better in quality and value for money so I might give it another try later.

Taste Test Total Score 12.5/20
Kuza Urban Japanese Food on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Cantina 663

Happy belated birthday DT! Today, GN and I took DT out for a belated birthday celebration and one of the activities is lunch at Cantina 663 which is located in a tiny shopping complex next to the Astor Theatre in Mount Lawley.  Cantina 663 has both indoor and outdoor seating options. 

When we arrived at 1pm, it was already packed! Luckily we booked!  We were attended to in a reasonable time and shown to our table, however it was a while before we got menus.  When they eventually brought us some menus, the waitress asked us if we would like to try their special sangria of the day which was apple, pear and ginger.  We ordered one each as it was a hot day and it sounded refreshing but requesting one with alcohol for the birthday girl of course!

The menu at Cantina 663 changes seasonally and the menu was different to the last time I went so when DT and GN asked me what was good, I was not much help.  We eventually made our decisions.

Our order
Moi - Pan fried gnocchi, white bean puree, hazelnuts, asiago $23
DT - Pasta carbonara, house bacon, soft egg, reggiano $21.50
GN - Salad, braised lamb shoulder, baba ganoush, zucchini, lentils $20

Apple, pear and ginger sangria x 3

The sangrias came out and it was delicious and refreshing, just what we needed on this very hot day.

Food and presentation - 4/5
The food at Cantina 663 has never disappointed and today was no exception.  I love gnocchi but most of the time I am disappointed when I order it because for some reason it is so hard to get gnocchi right.  However, I am delighted to tell you that the gnocchi I ordered was perfect.  My gnocchi was not a blob of dough, it was the right texture and the potato-to-flour ratio was just right.  The white bean puree was beautiful and the hazelnuts and asiago worked well with the whole dish.  DT was most impressed with her pasta carbonara, quote "This is the best carbonara I've ever had!"  We were a bit unsure about GN's dish though, the lamb was cooked perfectly but we didn't like the salad mix which was a bit overpowering.  Our dishes were prepared with high quality, fresh ingredients and was neatly presented.

Pan fried gnocchi, white bean puree, hazelnuts, asiago $23

Pasta carbonara, house bacon, soft egg, reggiano $21.50

Salad, braised lamb shoulder, baba ganoush, zucchini, lentils $20
Service - 3.5/5
The service at Cantina 663 is usually hit or miss but I am blogging about this particular dining experience and it was a not bad but not great either.  It was very hard to get the attention of wait staff but when we eventually got one, they were friendly and polite.

Atmosphere - 4/5
Cantina 663 is usually buzzing and is a great place to catch up with friends and family for a meal or to watch the world go by as you enjoy your coffee and paper.

Value for money - 4/5
I think the prices are reasonable for the quality of the food you get but it is a bit pricier than your average casual lunch.

Of course I'll be back!

Taste Test Total Score 15.5/20

Cantina 663 on Urbanspoon