Sebastian’s Italian Cafe, East Victoria Park

Out to dinner on a Thursday night with the boyfriends family, and dare I say I wished they’d picked somewhere else.

Food: The best way to explain Sebastian’s menu is simple, common, non-offensive westernised Italian food. The kind of food children, or very plain eaters might enjoy. Everyone at the table ordered a different dish, pastas, crepes, pizzas, chicken and all if it had one thing in common… A taste of blandness and the accompanying look of disappointment on everyone’s face. The serving sizes were good, but the food was so uninspired that you didn’t really want to finish it.

I ordered the chicken with an avocado cream sauce and salad. When it came out a massive plate with 3 palm sized chicken breast pieces drowning in a thick cream sauce and a small garden salad with a punchy vinaigrette on the side was popped down in-front of me. The chicken was juicy but grilled, meaning the sauce the chicken was drowning in was going to have to carry the fish. Unfortunately, the only flavour in the sauce was from the pepper I had a server freshly grind for me from their giant novelty pepper grinder (which is more like a weapon if you ask me). The garden side salad is what you can expect, though it was worrying that the salads vinaigrette was the highlight of the meal for me as it was the only thing on my plate with any flavour. Needless to say it was so average that when it came time for dessert head across the street elsewhere.

Price: Pricing was very family friendly at about $20 for a pizza, mid-$20s for mains such as pasta or chicken and about $30 for the nicer meals such as fish and meats.

Service: The waitresses were average. Struggling to get the attention of a waitress to take out order, I watched another gentleman across the room getting slowly frustrated as he spent 5 minutes trying to do just the same. After completing our average meals our table was cleared, even though we still had a lady sitting at the table who was clearly only half way through her meal.

Atmosphere:The atmosphere was possibly the best part of the experience, though still average. Nice, easy on the eyes but nothing worth remembering.

With so many wonderful l places and restaurant options in the area, and as much as I hate to say it, I recommend taking your money elsewhere or staying in at home and cooking up some simple but tasty Italian for yourself.

Sebastian's Italian Cafe on Urbanspoon

Bravo’s Restaurant, East Victoria Park

Wake-up on a Sunday, tired, hungry and in Vic Park. Head down Albany Highway looking for some brunch only to discover every major café is either closed until lunch, completely packed out or not worthy of a single dollar in my wallet. About to eat my own arm I finally came to Bravo’s Restaurant (933 Albany Highway) in East Victoria Park, and boy was I happy I did.

Not only where they serving breakfast from 8-4pm but the menu was exactly what I was after.

IMAG0826IMAG0827Food: There was a variety of egg dishes, mueslis, burgers/subs from 11:30 and drinks. Being my indecisive self when faced with so many great options I flipped a coin and ordered the Food from the gods: 2 organic quinoa cakes, poached eggs, peppers, feta and spinach ($19.5) and I couldn’t have been happier. The Quinoa cakes were super crispy, the poached eggs oozed upon being cut open and the peppers, feta and spinach were the perfectly appealing addition. I also treated myself to a strawberry milkshake ($5.50), which was thick, rich and ridiculously good. The person I was with ordered the Toasted muesli : made in-house, greek yoghurt, berry compote ($14.50) and a strawberry milkshake (don’t judge us).

If you would like to view any of their menus, please click here.

Price: The pricing was right on the money for the quality and amount of food, the location and the restaurant in general. I wouldn’t hesitate to compare the prices and food to that of popular Leederville and Mount Lawley cafés.

Service: I found the servers lovely and energetic, which was a great contrast to my tired self. I was greeted at the door quickly, and politely told I could sit anywhere I liked. The milkshakes came out first, water was popped on the table and the food followed not too long after.

Atmosphere: This place is quirky, and I like it. The only way to describe it could be a modernised version of hipster perhaps? It’s an interesting mix between a hip café, a funky restaurant and a quirky bar. There’s a tv behind the bar that’s big enough to watch if you’re interested, but small enough to ignore, yellow and black swirl pattered couch seating with white and yellow swiss cheese looking plastic seats to match. You can sit inside or outside and really mould the atmosphere to what you’re after.

As you can tell I’m a big fan of this place, and best of all it’s discovery couldn’t have come at a better time because I stumbled across this today:
Book by Monday, 14 April and receive 50% Off your food purchases. Offer valid for dining Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; Saturday for breakfast and lunch; and Sunday for lunch and dinner from now through to Monday, 9 June.
http://www.urbanspoon.com/spoon_guides/13573-weekly-special?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Local_Events_AU&utm_campaign=Local%20Events%20-%20AU%20-%20guide_photo

Bravo's on Urbanspoon

Northbridge Chinese Restaurant, Northbridge

On the first Sunday of March a group of my friends decided we’d get together for dim-sum/yum-cha in Northbridge. We all have our favourite places, but the host decided we’d visit Northbridge Chinese Restaurant which I had yet to visit. We somehow managed to reserve a table for 13 people for 11:00am which I’m told is not common. A few of our guests were running late so we kept getting asked to move and whether out guests were going to arrive.

After a while the employees got so persistent and pushy about it we couldn’t work out why they were so desperate to kick us off our table even though most of us were there. What we eventually worked out was that the person who took the booking thought we’d said 30 people, so they were holding 3 big tables for us whilst the crowd waiting outside kept growing. Needless to say we all laughed it off and the serves all apologised for the misunderstanding.

IMG_20140302_113753

After we resolved that issue we really had a wonderful time. The food kept flowing, and every server stopped at our table to ask if we wanted what they had to offer. We ended up completely stuffing ourselves with a variety of tasty dishes from BBQ pork buns to various dumplings, desserts and even chicken feet. We ended up paying just under paid $27 each for our share of food and drinks which was very reasonable with the amount of food we ordered. I’ve had quite a few dim-sum/yum-cha experiences throughout Perth and I can honestly say that Northbridge Chinese Restaurant is quite up there when it comes to the food and service. I’ll be putting it in my top 5 as I have had experienced slightly better food before (I judge this on the quality of squid tentacles which were quite hard and gummy, though the various steamed dumplings were good), but overall it’s quite a good yum-cha/dim-sum place.

Northbridge Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Galleria Podiatry, Morley

Podiatry is one of those underrated essentials that a lot of people don’t think about but should. This great local find is once again thanks to my mum. She has been coming here for years, and after highly recommending Galleria Podiatry to me for the 100th time I went. My mum visits N.Lange regularly for callus removal etc. and always comes back pleased, whilst I’ve now visited R.Lange to get dry skin removed and get more information on replacing my orthotics. My experience of Galleria Podiatry couldn’t be better. The receptionist was polite and lovely, whilst the podiatrist was friendly and professional. She did a great job on my feet, gave me some great advice and even answered all my questions about replacing my orthotics.
I can honestly say that Galleria Podiatry is the place for me, and I’ll definitely be making it my regular.

Top 5 Healthy Pantry Essentials – For Around $1

Top 5 Healthy Pantry Essentials – For Around $1

Tinned Tuna
Coming in a variety of flavours and often on sale for less than $1 per can, tinned tuna is a great, quick pantry item. You can throw a can into your lunch box for a healthy work lunch, add different flavours to salads and make it a staple in pasta and other grain dishes. Best of all because of tinned tunas endless self-life you can buy a dozen tins when they’re on sale and always have them ready to go.
However, make sure you take a couple seconds to read the nutrition labels when picking flavours for the first time as some options are healthier than others. It may be worth staying away from additions such as mayonnaise.

To learn about the sustainability of your favourite brand of tuna, you can visit:
http://www.greenpeace.org/australia/en/what-we-do/oceans/Take-action/canned-tuna-guide/

Canned Beans
A 400g can of tinned beans is a great high protein go to pantry item. It lasts a long time in the pantry and is extremely versatile. My personal favourite is mixed bean varieties. You can throw a handful into any salad, pasta dish or use it as a meat substitute. I recommend rinsing canned beans before using them however to remove some of the salt and sugar added to many canned bean varieties in the canning process.

Popcorn Kernels
One of my all-time favourite nightly treats, a 375g bag of popcorn kernels (not the microwave bag type) will cost you around $1 for the supermarket. 1 cup of air popped popcorn only has about 30 calories making it a great go to treat. Be it for that sneaky work snack or for sitting on the couch air popped popcorn is a great alternative to chips, biscuits and all those other treats we find ourselves polishing a bag off without even noticing.

Herbs and Spices
Whether it’s herbs from  your garden or spices from the markets or super market, herbs and spices are not only a great way to bring any dish to life, but to give your body an extra boost of goodness.  Different herbs and spices have different health properties such as inflammatory, digestive and aiding in blood circulation, so they’re really worth exploring.

Not sure how to get started?
Maybe try a new herb or spice each month and see what delicious dishes you can come up with?
Try growing your own herbs. Soft herbs such as parsley, mint or chives don’t need a lot of space and can thrive in a can, and hard herb such as thyme, sage and rosemary are surprisingly hard to kill so they’re worth a go.

Oats
A 750g bag of oats traditional or quick will cost you about $1, but what a dollar. You get a lot of bang for your buck with oats. Oats can be used for so many things from being blended and used as a flavour replacement in desserts to the base of a healthy breakfast of porridge (oatmeal). A bowl of porridge in the morning which will not only help you start your day in a healthy way but keep you full for a long time and make staying away from those surgery cereal alternatives much easier.

But isn’t porridge bland? I’ve heard this so many times but it just doesn’t make any sense to me. Porridge is so versatile; all you need to do is throw in some additions and change them up such as adding some berries, honey, nuts or seeds. My personal favourites are honey with flax and chia seeds; blueberries with flax and chia seeds; or a tablespoon or two of homemade compote (usually boiled down plum – it’s really delicious).

Higher Grounds (Coffee Cart), Curtin University Bentley

Coffee and studying go hand in hand, so it’s great to see a truly great coffee being offered to the lucky students at Curtin University.

IMG_20140326_082253[1]Food: Higher grounds may only offer a single size take-away coffee cup, but there’s no need to fear as no matter what coffee you ask for (my standard order is a double shot long black) it’s going to be damn delicious and seriously satisfying. And if coffee isn’t really your thing (and yes, these people actually do exist) Higher Grounds offer tea and tasty treats such as biscuits or slices.

Service: The boys running the Higher Grounds coffee cart are wonderful. They’re always cheerfully bantering on about something whilst being friendly to customers and pushing out the best coffee on campus all at the same time. One particular morning I sat beside their cart for almost an hour and couldn’t help but be impressed from the sheer amount of (what I assume were their regulars) coffee orders they knew off the top of their heads. As people came up to the cart they were instantly greeted in a friendly manner. If they were a regular the boys already knew their order and if not they had no issue quickly handling any coffee order that was thrown at them. And of course, all the customers left smiling.

Atmosphere: Many people may question how it’s possible for a coffee cart to have its own atmosphere, but these guys have proven without question that it’s very possible. This trendy little, hipsters paradise of a coffee cart pumps out funky tunes, has two great guys manning it and is surrounded by people that are so excited and satisfied that if you could sit around the cart you would for hours. Even the coffee cups haven’t been overlooked. Each coffee cup comes with a funky contemporary artistic image that you always find other people complimenting when you put your coffee down on a table.

Price: The price is on par with the various cafes on campus, yet the coffee is significantly better. The service is so great, the atmosphere around the cart so wonderful and the coffee comes to you so quickly, that you wish it was a café you could hang around in for hours.

If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a major fan and supporter of Higher Grounds, and it looks like the word is starting to get out about this little coffee gem. It’s funny to think that currently the best coffee on campus isn’t from a permanent establishment on the campus, but from a mobile coffee cart, which may seem crazy but is very true. I’ve even begun to notice classmates during seminar breaks going out of their way to walk half the way through campus just to get a coffee from the cart. And I’m not surprised, after all, why would you want to spend the same money to buy an average coffee in an overfilled café?

On YELP!? You can find this review here.

Common Ground, Curtin University Bentley

Back in early 2013 I was raving about the Common Ground, but one year later I’m not so sure. When The Common Ground first opened its doors after taking over from Scholars it was a high quality, lecturer targeting cafe at Curtin University that was a great change from the other cafes that were targeting students. Sadly, this is no longer the case.

Atmosphere: This quiet escape is now a filled to the brim with students, though the outdoor area is still a nice place to eat on campus.

Service: The friendly staff are still pleasant but run off their feet, especially during peak hour that there is little time for pleasantries.

The food: The menu still offers a variety great options such as the vegetable stack which is full of flavour, but I think the quality of the food has changed over the past year as the dish is now very petite for the price. What really bothers me is that the burgers which use to be large gourmet stacks of flavour served on a wonderful wooden plank and steak knife are now just small one handed burgers served on plastic trays, which in my opinion is a reflection of a majority of what most of the food on the menu has become. At least the coffee is still permanent coffee on campus.

Like many places, the charm of this quaint cafe when out the window when they targeted the student market. To be honest, there is now little difference between this cafe and other places at Curtin University which makes me a little sad. I will still be coming here to grab a take-away coffee, but beyond that I’m sad to say I don’t rave about this place anymore.

Common Ground on Urbanspoon