Digress Restaurant & Lounge

We were at Digress Restaurant & Lounge for a Christmas work dinner - a place that was highly recommended by the manager. We were greeted by two Asian-looking lion statues at the entrance before heading downstairs where the restaurant and the lounge are. The restaurant is dimly lit to create a more relaxing environment (but not too good for photo-taking) with the wall recesses adorned with vases in a simplistic manner and tables neatly presented with purple tablecloths. Forgot to mention that Digress' specialty is to serve Italian and Indian fusion dishes which i thought would be quite an interesting combination to try. 
The menu offers a lot of choices which made it hard to decide, so we ordered a Naan Basket and some Mozzarella & Paneer Fritters to start with. The naan basket came with 3 different types of naan: fetta naan, sundried tomato naan and garlic naan. The fetta naan was quite nice with the gooey and yummy centre but my favorite was still the garlic naan.
The mozzarella and panner fritters were lovely - nice and crispy on the outside with a soft and melt-in-your mouth texture inside. It came with a jalapeño aioli which gave it a nice kick too. 


Kindle Cafe & Catering

I must confess that I didn't know the existence of Kindle Cafe & Catering (Shop 10, 240 City Walk, Civic, tel: (02) 6169 6169) until a friend, who utterly loves this place, told me about it. You can't really physically see Kindle Cafe when you are walking past and you wouldn't know about it unless you take a detour upon seeing the blackboard sign, if you see it. You should definitely check Kindle Cafe out if you haven't done so and you will certainly be surprised when you find it. It's not your typical looking cafe but a very petite cafe which has vibrant coloured walls and beautiful comfy Victorian-styled couches. The walls are adorned with posters, you have foliage drapping on top of the blackboard specials and a Victorian lamp near the kitchen opening. Everything fits in so well that makes the whole place just nice and welcoming. The staff is very friendly and attentive...ohn, and i like how they serve water with slices of cucumber in it, very refreshing indeed.


Sage Restaurant

Located in the quiet surrounds of Braddon in the 1920's heritage building Gorman House is Sage Restaurant. You don't immediately see the restaurant as there is a garden bar just outside it - the 'Mint Garden Bar' (same owner)- which serves an array of cocktails and canapes. Going past the garden we manage to make our way into the restaurant which has a cozy and welcoming atmosphere. Sage is understated but it has subtle hints of French elegance that sets the right tone for the start of a good dining experience. More exciting fact is that the new head chef, Clement Chauvin, used to work at a few Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe. Quite promising, we thought.
We chose to go with the 4-course meal ($80) which was enough to try most of the menu without being too full. We started with some House Baked Bread Roll served with Sage Butter which was nice but we were wondering why it wasn't complimentary like in most fine dining places.


A weekend in Canberra?

Here is the article that I wrote for Tiger Airlines Magazine, Tiger Tales, for their July - August Issue. It gives you a rough idea of what to do, where to eat and visit if you are coming to the capital for the weekend! Of course, there are many more good places to eat...drop me an e-mail if you would like some more suggestions.


Farmer's Daughter

I came across this newly added cafe in Yarralumla, Farmer's Daughter, when i read its review from a local magazine. 'Quite promising' - i thought, so i quickly looked through my schedule book to see when it was the next free weekend and scribbled 'Visit FM' down.
The day finally arrived and we went to Farmer's Daughter for brunch. It was a beautiful day but we ended up sitting inside because a table was just being vacated. The cafe is not big but it surely utilizes its space quite well with the kitchen and the coffee counter compacted at the back and the rest of the cafe, eating area of course. We sat down at a table bench, which was lovely adorned with some fresh white lilies, and were given a clipboard with the breakfast menu attached to it. It took us a while to choose but we ended up ordering the 'No Ordinary Soldiers', the 'Poached Eggs' and a lovely cup of Red African Hot Chocolate

 Cool and edgy bottle of water!


The Curious Chocolatier - Macarons

I've been wanting to get hold of some French Macarons from The Curious Chocolatier, who also makes beautiful packaged designer chocolate bars, for a long time. I kept putting it off because i couldn't bring myself to go to The Old Depot Markets (which only opens on Sundays) and get some - for those who know how the Sunday Bus timetable operates in Canberra will understand why. Fortunate enough, there was a Handmade Market held at the National Convention Centre (in CBD) this month and getting my hands on those highly wanted gems was now possible.
As soon as i got there, my only aim was to find where The Curious Chocolatier was and get my hands on some French macarons before they ran out. I learnt my lesson from the previous Handmade Market where i decided not to buy them earlier but to leave them for later...and yes, i went home empty-handed.
On this visit, I got seven flavours in total and these included: chocolate, lime & coconut, passionfruit, raspberry cheesecake, salted caramel, hazelnut and dark chocolate & raspberry.


Early Doors Cafe

Gungahlin is a place that i have never really explored because of its distance from where i live. I haven't been to many restaurants or cafes around that area so it was quite exciting that i got to have a quick lunch at Early Doors Cafe before doing the rest of a photoshoot.
The cafe has a simplistic decor and big windows that allow plenty of light to come in, creating a nice and relaxed atmosphere. Near the counter is a lower shelf filled with magazines and books and above it, there is a nice selection of sweet treats for you to indulge. (They have Dream Cuisine macarons too!)
I started out with a freshly squeezed Strawberry & Orange juice combo and it was lovely! So delicious that i even make my own for breakfast every now and then. 
Looks ordinary but it was delicious.


Kudos Taste

Looking for some Japanese comfort food? 
Canberra will be pleased to know about a Japanese restaurant that has been recently added to the Canberra House, Kudos Taste (around the same time as Two Before Ten Cafe, which is located in the same complex). The little restaurant is actually a kiosk located in the centre of the complex and a nice and inexpensive place to go for lunch. 
 I like the little owls imprinted on the blue banner!


Pelagic Bar & Dining - Dinner

As i mentioned previously, i would be back again to try their a la carte menu. So here i am again, but this time for dinner. For some reason, the decor seems a lot more dramatic at night than during the day.I especially liked the brightly-lit shelves full of upside down wine glasses and the colourful school of fish painted on the walls. We got some Lemon, Lime and Bitters to satisfy our thrist while we chose the entrees and the mains.
For entrees, we've ordered the Conchinglie pasta with king prawn, spanish onions & soft herbs and the Seared scallops with crispy pigs ear & shaved radish salad. Conchinglie pasta resemble little seashells and for some bizarre reason i find them quite fun to eat. For this dish, i was perhaps a bit disappointed with the presentation as i was expecting to find some visible king prawns instead of tiny diced pieces of such. Taste wise it was alright (quite light) but having whole pieces of prawn would have probably made it tastier and better. The scallop entree was lovely; generous sized succulent scallops were nicely seared and paired with crispy pigs' ear to add the much needed saltiness and the crunchy texture to the dish.
Conchinglie pasta with king prawn, spanish onions & soft herbs
 Seared scallops with crispy pigs ear & shaved radish salad
Next up were the mains, which we ordered the Eye fillet with yorkshire pudding, horseradish cream & red wine jus and the Grilled yellowfin tuna with warm spanish onion, cherry tomato & balsamic salsa. The eye fillet was cooked to medium rare and it was gorgeously tender. There wasn't really a need for the yorkshire pudding to be there but it was nice nonetheless. 
The grilled tuna was lovely too. The tuna was cooked perfectly and all the components tasted good as well. However, i felt like there was something missing, something (sweet?) that would bring all the components together to make it a beautiful dish. Nicely executed but fell short taste wise.
Here is the bowl of fries that we ordered to accompany our mains. It came out pipping hot! *nom
Last to come up was, of course, the dessert. We decided to share one as we were already too full to get a dessert each. Sadly they didn't have the Strawberry Festival (the dessert which i ordered on my previous visit) on this occasion, thus we decided to go for the Classic Creme Brulee. 'Crack' is the sound i heard when i gently hit it with my spoon and i was happy to find a luscious custard underneath eagerly waiting to be devoured. The custard itself tasted nice but it was a tad too rich for my taste. I am glad that we shared as i am almost certain that i wouldn't be able to finish one by myself =P
Even though the night was gloomy and rainy, the overall dinner experience was good and it lifted our moods up. The ambience was good and the waitress was very knowledgeable and attentive. The food was nice with just a few misses here and there. Coming back? Certainly, but not sure when...unless you tell me that the Strawberry Festival is back!

Pelagic Bar & Dining on Urbanspoon


Two Before Ten - Cafe & Coffee Roasters

Just before we headed to Londsdale Street Roasters (again) for afternoon tea, we decided to try a relatively new addition to the Canberra House, the Two Before Ten Cafe & Coffee Roasters. It has a simple and cozy atmosphere and the staff was quite attentive and friendly. What struck me most was the feature wall behind the coffee counter which had designs of strange (but cute?) creatures as well as the funky yellow urchin lights *check them out!


Lonsdale Street Roasters

For quite a while, Milk & Honey (M&H) had been my favorite place to go after lunches or dinners to just chillax and catch up with friends. I have to say that it didn't take long before Lonsdale Street Roasters (LSR) attained an equal standing in my heart. But since LSR doesn't open at night, M&H is still the place to go after dinners =)
There isn't much of a wow factor when you look from the outside of LSR (although i found the coffee-sack-cushions-on-empty-milk-crate seats quite cute) but when you step into that place, you feel like you are in a funky art gallery. Bright colours, striking patterned wallpapers, bicycles hanging off the walls and random 'hazard signs' stuck to the ceiling all come together surprisingly harmonious with the plain solid wooden tables in the cafe. I also quite liked the fact that they took the time to pick out interesting cushions to adorn the wall seatings, check them out!


The Fish Shack

The Fish Shack (Petrie Place, off Bunda St. (02) 6248 5885) is a new fish and chips place located where the former Phat Duck was. The tiny place has simple 'marine' inspired decorations and most of its seatings are located outdoors. Although it was still winter last week, the sun was generously out and enjoying lunch al fresco became possible. We arrived just a bit before lunch time to make sure we got a table to enjoy our meals. The Fish Shack only serves fish of the day to ensure that their 'fish-meals' taste the freshest as possible. On this particular visit, the fish of the day was Blue eye cod. 


HK: Australia Dairy Company (澳洲牛奶公司)

Australia Dairy Company is a popular Hong Kong style cafe in Hong Kong, it is the kind of place where you'd expect a long queue before going in. The cafe is quite busy and crammed; consider yourself lucky if you don't end up sharing a table with someone you don't know. The pace at Australia Dairy Company is fast: you order, eat, pay and leave...all in about 20 minutes or so. It's not the type of place where you can sit down, chat and relax or else you will start getting 'the stares'. Why Australia Dairy Company? Honestly, I have no idea. It has nothing 'Australian' about it in terms of the decor and food...perhaps the milk they use?


Ona Coffee House

Although i am not a coffee drinker myself, I love going coffee houses. I love everything about them: the environment, the people, the aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans, the laboratory-like tools used in certain coffee and the smell of freshly prepared food.
At the moment i stepped into Ona Coffee House (68 Wollongong Street, Fsywick (02) 6162 3320), i loved it. The place's decor is simple but it has a few stand-outs such as the lovely clock with Roman numbers, the barista-to-be room, the display of fresh artisan bread by Brasserie Bread and the various awards that Ona has won (including one for latte art). If you are a coffee aficionado, you should try their siphon, pour over filter or cold drip from 'The Brewery' selection.


HK: Kong Wo Dou Bun Chong (公和荳品廠)

Tofu pudding ( 豆腐花) is one of my favourite Chinese desserts made of very soft tofu which can be served hot or cold. While in Hong Kong this time, i had a mission to find an awesome place that served tofu pudding. After some 'research', i was directed to Kong Wo Dou Bun Chong in Sham Sui Po. This little tofu place still retains the essence of the old style Hong Kong eateries with folding tables, round wooden stools and large fans all around. It even has a large ceramic dragon-embossed pot where the tofu pudding is made and subsequently scooped out into smaller bowls.
Kong Wo sells all things made of soy beans such as soy milk, tofu pudding fried tofu and stuffed beancurd. Since it was hot, i ordered a bowl of cold tofu pudding (HKD7) and a cup of soy milk (HKD4). The soy milk was delicious and not overly sweet - perfect for the hot weather; the tofu pudding had a nice silky texture (hot version is even silkier) and was slightly sweetened. You can always add the 'yellow sugar' that is readily available if you prefer the tofu pudding to be sweeter. 
Overall, i enjoyed my dessert time at Kong Wo and will certainly be coming back. Delicious soy milk and silken tofu pudding definitely made my day! Apart from being a healthy and inexpensive dessert (both items added up to HKD11 which is only around AUD1.5!), i got to 'experience' an old style Hong Kong eatery!

Kong Wo Dou Bun Chong
G/F, 118 Pei Ho Street, Sham Sui Po
Kowloon, Hong Kong
tel: (852) 2386 6871


HK: Ovenhouse Deluxe

Sorry for the lack of updates but now that i am back in the capital, there will be more blog posts. I've been away for close to 5 weeks in the land of awesome shopping and eating, Hong Kong (especially now that Australian dollar is so strong!)! It's good to be back and enjoy the not-so-hectic pace that Canberra has to offer but not so keen on the freezing weather though =P
Anyways, here is my first Hong Kong blog post for 2011.
We found Ovenhouse Deluxe purely by accident as we were walking around Tsim Sha Tsui. It mainly does cakes, breads and cookies for take-away because it doesn't have many seats in it (8 seats max., i think). It also has quite a vast collection of wines from what i saw. Ovenhouse has a simple and classy decor which gives it a bit of a high-end feel. The cakes are placed neatly behind the cake counters and the cookies are nicely packed in bags. There is a small section at the end of the counter where you can sample their cookies. On this visit, we tried the two cakes that looked the most appealing to us: Lady Peach and Charcoal.
Lady Peach is a sponge cake filled with white peach mousse and white peach champagne coulis in between. The name definitely suits the cake's pretty appearance and it was the 'looks' that sold it for me. Taste-wise it was a bit weak on the peach flavour and the mousse felt a bit 'hard' (probably had a bit too much gelatine).



*UPDATE: Bicicletta is back in business!

Sorry for the lack of post, but i am currently overseas and not having much time to update my blog. Sorry guys! Here is a quick post of one of the cafes that i visited before i departed to Hong Kong. 
Bicicletta (Unit 1/15 Edingburgh Ave, Acton (02) 6262 8683) is one of the latest additions to the chic and modern NewActon precinct. I was there for an early Saturday breakfast and had good feelings about it after checking their website and knowing where they were located. Bicicletta is a nicely decorated Italian cafe with both indoor or outdoor options. We sat outdoors so that we could enjoy a nice view of the precinct while having our breakfast.
We ordered Big Bicicletta Breakfast which had a choice of fried or scrambled eggs (we chose the latter) served with Italian sausage, bacon, mushrooms, sauteed spinach, roast tomato and asparagus; we also ordered Salmone which had smoked salmon served with fresh goats’ cheese, avocado puree and homemade pan brioche. Ohn, and we got an affogato too!
The service was alright and we were served the affogato not long after we have ordered. I am no expert in coffee but i didn't really like the so-called Bicicletta blend. It tasted bitter and sour at the same time - not exactly what i was expecting.
The breakfast dishes, however, took a while to come to our table. Both dishes tasted alright but wasn't impressed by the fact that most elements were already cold by the time we got them - especially the eggs and sausages. Big bicicletta breakfast was alright (apart from being cold-ish) and the asparagus and the spinach were my favorites.
I liked the Salmone more than the big breakfast and it was alright to have it cold. Most elements blended quite well together; the subtle sweetness from the brioche with the saltiness from the smoked salmon and the sourness from the capers. For me, a hint of goat's cheese was enough to complement the other elements.
In general, Bicicletta is a nice and relaxing place to go for breakfast. The waiter had a cool (perhaps) Italian accent and he was quite friendly too. The only negatives for me were the taste of the affogato and the issue with the big breakfast being served cold. Apart from that, not a bad cafe.

Bicicletta on Urbanspoon


Baby Elsie's Dedication Cake

A few weeks ago, J and I decided to make a baby dedication cake for one of our friend who had just had a baby girl recently. We started throwing some ideas around and we finally decided to make a chocolate mud cake covered with pink and white fondant topped with a few baby-related decorations. I was originally planning to make a fondant bear but since this year is the year of rabbit, i ended up making a pink rabbit.
Having had experience making a 21st fondant cake last year, we knew that this one would be a lot easier because we were just going to make a one-tier cake - so no spending countless hours ganaching gazillion of cupcakes and covering them one by one (don't get me wrong, it was fun but just time consuming).
J made the mud cake in the morning so that by the time I finished work we could ganache and decorate it. I made the pink rabbit the night before just to make sure it had enough time to dry and harden. The most fun part was making the decorations and putting them together on the cake. Believe it or not, the pacifier was the trickiest decoration to make despite it being the smallest of them all =P
We were quite satisfied with the final product (although there are plenty of areas to improve in) and glad that the parents liked it too. Enjoy the photos =)


Pelagic Bar & Dining

Decided to have lunch at Pelagic Bar & Dining (Shop 2, 131 London Circuit, Civic (02) 6162 0752) and try their special lunch menu for $15 which has options of pasta, risotto and fish. We both decided to get fish as seafood is their specialty and they get it fresh everyday. Pelagic Bar & Dining has a simple and contemporary ambience with a cool feature wall fully decorated with fish. The staff was friendly and very knowledgeable which is always nice when you can't decide on what to order. 
I can't recall each dish's exact names but this is what we ordered: Crispy Snapper with salsa vinaigrette and Char-grilled salmon, asparagus and salsa verde. Both fish were cooked quite nicely but i particularly liked the crispy snapper as the salmon was a bit salty for my liking. Fortunately the salsa verde helped to neutralize the saltiness from the salmon and the arparagus were superb! Our mains were accompanied by Mixed leaves salad with balsamic dressing which was ordinary.
Crispy Snapper with Salsa Vinaigrette

Char-grilled salmon, asparagus and salsa verde

Mixed leaves with balsamic dressing

After having our mains we ordered a Strawberry Festival to share. It's a dessert that presents strawberries in seven different ways; the dish contained strawberry bavarois, strawberry sorbet, strawberry granita, fresh strawberries, dried strawberries, strawberry chips and a strawberry dust to finish off the presentation. Although it was all strawberries, there was a nice balance of sweetness and sourness in the dish. It not only looked pretty (in shades of pink and red) but it tasted delicious too, definitely the highlight of our lunch! *recommended
Lunch was satisfying and the lunch specials were quite good. The highlight was definitely the Strawberry Festival dessert which i don't mind going back for. Their a la carte menu looks nice too, so i might give it a go sometime! 

Pelagic Bar & Dining on Urbanspoon


Debacle for breakfast

It was a nice and sunny day when we headed to Debacle (30 Lonsdale Street, Braddon (02) 6247 1314) for an early breakfast. Its decor is simple and rustic which makes the place quite cosy and laid back; the atmosphere is comfortable and welcoming which makes you want to come back. I guess it is also a very popular place amongst families with kids as i've never seen so many kids/toddlers in a cafe. They, too, seemed to be enjoying the food as much as the adults did.
On this particular occasion, we decided to order a Debacle Recovery Breakfast (Fried eggs on toasted sour dough, grilled tomato, baked beans, bacon, potato rosti, sausage, sauteed mushroom and a choice of coffee & tea) and Housemade Crepes with Braised Strawberry & Double Cream.
Debacle Recovery Breakfast was quite filling and the mushrooms in it were very juicy and delicious! I also liked the potato rosti which was quite different from what i expected; it looked more like an arancini and it went well with the saltiness from the bacon.

It's always nice to finish the breakfast on the sweet side and the crepes did not disappoint. The crepes were light and fluffy but not too sweet, which complemented well with the braised strawberries. The double cream, on the other hand, was a bit too heavy for my liking so i decided to not have it with the crepes.
The breakfast at Debacle's was good and satisfying and the crepes were my favourite. Their Smoked Salmon Rosti seemed to be a very popular dish and i might give that a try next time.

Debacle on Urbanspoon


Dickson Asian Noodle House

Sorry guys for the lack of posts! I was busy finishing an article about Canberra for Tiger Airways! >.<"
Anyways, i am back!
I haven't been to Asian Noodle House (4/19-29 Woolley Street, Dickson (02) 6262 5903) for a long long time and as far as i remember, my last meal there wasn't that great. Past aside, i decided to give it another go after hearing a few good comments about it and seeing its high rating on Urbanspoon. 'Maybe they have really improved afterall' - i thought to myself. 
The restaurant hasn't changed much, the same dark square tables and plain walls with minimal decor. We went there for lunch and ordered a Duck Laksa and a Hainan Chicken Rice. I must say that the laksa was not bad. The soup was very tasty but i just wasn't really happy with the random artificial-looking chunks of duck inside of the soup. At least at Streets of Asia, you get a nice chopped up roast duck drumstick.
Then there was the Hainan Chicken Rice. At first sight i went 'Wow, the portion is quite generous". Second glance i thought to myself "O-kay, it looks dry". The disappointing thing with this Hainan Chicken was that it had no skin nor bones, it felt dry and they just looked like pieces of chicken that are put in noodle soups. I was quite disappointed with the dish and it was quite painful to finish the whole plate of dry chicken pieces, although the sauce did help in a way.
Overall, lunch was not all that satisfying. The laksa was okay but not the Hainan Chicken Rice. I gave it a second chance and sorry to say this, but i won't be coming back anytime soon.

Dickson Asian Noodle House on Urbanspoon


Green Tea Daifuku with Red Bean Filling

I heart Daifukus!
I love their chewy texture and the different types of fillings that they can come in.
Daifuku, meaning 'great luck' in Japanese, is a confection comprised of mochi (glutinous rice cake) stuffed with a sweet filling. I've always been hesitant to make daifuku as i was scared to stuff things up. The closest thing I've ever made was Tang yuan (glutinous rice balls) with sesame filling which only involves boiling and not steaming and handling hot mochi.


Artespresso for Breakfast

One of the things that i enjoy doing on a beautiful Saturday morning is to wake up late and have a beautiful brunch at a nice cafe. This time we headed to Artespresso (31 Giles Street, Kingston (02) 6295 8055) which is located in the nice and calm surrounds of Kingston. Artespresso features a trendy and modern decor and has balconies where you can choose to seat as well. The staff wasn't very attentive and took them a while to take our orders. 
We ordered a cup of Mocha and two breakfast dishes: Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict (poached eggs, hollandaise, English muffins and smoked salmon) and Arte's Big Breakfast (Poached, scrambled or fried eggs, sausages, bacon, confit tomato, spinach, sweet potato rosti, sourdough).


Pho Phu Quoc

Pho Phu Quoc (6 Cape St, Dickson (02) 6249 6662) is one of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants here in Canberra. It's unpretentious, simple and focuses mainly on serving great food to those who visit. I can't believe that i have not blogged about it although i've been there on countless occasions (i guess they were all impromptu, thus no camera in hand). On my last visit, i was pleased to see that they've done a few upgrades to the restaurant by adding more decorations with a Vietnamese flare to its walls. We started our meal with a Vietnamese Three Colour Drink which was nice and refreshing. It is made with herbal jelly, red bean, green jelly strips, red jelly strips, ice and coconut milk and my favorite part? The green jelly strips.


Grill'd - Belconnen Westfield

I must tell you that the newly refurbished Belconnen Westfield is truly stunning. It looks brighter and better with more shops, eateries and beautiful 'artsy' seating areas that i immediately fell in love with. I'm glad that i no longer have to take 3 hours trip down to Sydney to satisfy my cravings for asian bread and bubble tea, as they have Top Bread and EasyWay there. That's a great improvements for Canberra! YEY!

Oo..sorry for going off-topic and not mentioning what i was doing in Belconned Westfield. I was there for a Media Launch for Grill'd (Westfield Belconnen, Level 3 - Next to Target (02) 6251 1588) which only opened on the 31st March. Grill'd has some energetic vibe that just makes the whole place very inviting. It is well furnished with nice wooden tables, colourful chairs and fun wall arts (designed by a Melbourne artist) which altogether guarantees a fun and relaxing dining experience for both adults and children.
The event started with a few introductions, an overview of the company and its vision - to deliver tasty and yet healthy burgers which are 'made with love'. We were first introduced to the Thick-cut Hot Chips which came out pipping hot and accompanied by three different dips: Herbed Mayo, Tomato Relish and Sweet Chilli Mayo. My favorite dip out of the three was the tomato relish as it went the best with the chips; herbed mayo and sweet chilli mayo were good but they didn't blend as well with the chips.
Hot Chips with 3, erm...only 2 sauces in this photo (1st: sweet chilli mayo 2nd: herbed mayo and the tomato relish is missing)


Au Lac Gourmet Vegetarian Restaurant

I've never been a vegetarian in my whole life but i was rather eager to try a vegetarian restaurant in Dickson: Au Lac Gourmet Vegetarian Restaurant (4/35-39 Woolley Street, Dickson (02) 6262 8922). It is reputable for its mock meat dishes, so i decided to be a bit adventurous and give it a try. The worst case scenario will be me resorting to vegetables and tofu, which i love anyways.
Au Lac is not a fancy place but a small and simple restaurant with a few Vietnamese-themed decorations here and there. Its menu looks very similar to a normal Vietnamese restaurant's except the fact that its meat it's not real meat but soy meat.
As soon as i saw  Roast Soy Duck on the menu i knew i had to get it. I was really curious to see how the 'fake' roast duck would look and taste like. To my surprise, the mock duck actually had crispy skin and even 'stuff' that resembled duck fat (sorry, but i don't know what the fat is made of), that's imitation at its best no? The taste was pretty decent for an imitation of the real roast duck, although i still prefer to have the real thing.


Gold Coast: Mme Grenouille

It was a great surprise to find the French Bakery Mme Grenouille (Meriton Building, Shop 1, 2669 Gold Coast Hwy, Broachbeach, (07)5538 3111) during my last visit to Gold Coast. It is one of those places that you don't expect to find until you've reach the status of a local, if you know what i mean. I came across it purely by chance, when i unconsciously glanced at a magazine where their colourful macarons were featured. It must have been the macarons, somehow we are connected.
It was a hot day when we went to Mme Grenouille, so i decided to order an ice coffee to start with while i chose my cakes and enjoyed its chic ambience. The cafe does feel like a small Parisian Boutique with interesting macaron-inspired prints on their walls and a display with a variety of beautiful cakes and sweets for you to choose from. I was certainly  spoiled for choice and it took me a while to choose something from it. I ended up ordering the Strawberry Charlotte - a soft sponge surrounded by finger biscuits and topped with fresh strawberries and a Black Forest - consisted of two different layers of mousse decorated with a chocolate spoon and macerated cherries.
Ice Coffee
The ice coffee tasted really good, it wasn't overly sweet (like in many places) and the ice coffee didn't taste as if it was made from commercialized coffee syrups. Judging by other customers' reaction, i think Mme Grenouille makes pretty decent coffee. Let me know what you think about their coffee if you've been there!
My first cake choice was the Strawberry Charlotte simply because i love strawberries and also because it was one of the cakes that was going fast. The sponge was soft and moist, the finger biscuits were good and the strawberries were deliciously fresh. All components came well together not only in taste but also in presentation.
Black Forest was my favorite in terms of presentation. That chocolate spoon holding a cherry alone was enough for me to order it. Yes, i am a sucker for pretty and gimmicky things. Looks aside, the chocolate mousse was light and silky smooth and the bottom layer of macerated cherries complemented it very well. I guess it's not just looks, afterall.
Black Forest - recommend it!
I certainly enjoyed my time at Mme Grenouille's for both the food and ambience. The staff was friendly and very helpful in helping me choose the cakes we had. I will definitely be back (when i can) to try their breakfast menu and other cakes. You might be asking me...where are the macarons? Don't worry, i didn't leave without them! I bought a few flavours including Hazelnut, Pistachio, Rum & Raisin and Coffee - the filling was good but i was a bit disappointed with the macaron shells for its coarse texture. Apart from that, all good!
Don't forget to pay Mme Grenouille a visit on your next trip to Gold Coast!
*I reckon their little logo featuring a frog with a crown is tres chic, no?
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