Life has been dull

Not too many exciting things happening, but here are a few moments!

January 13, 2014

Photo right before leaving for our first day of school! Both of us need hair cuts real bad… good thing we finally got them last week!

IMG_6477

January 24, 2014

Tan was in town from Mackay, where he is now an intern, visiting Christine so we got to hang out! We went to Sunnybank for Korean BBQ dinner at Midam, which I’ve blogged about before. Dinner was definitely delicious and filling!

We, of course, saved room for dessert! At Christine’s suggestion, we went to Meet Fresh – a Taiwanese dessert shop. And boy it was yum!

IMG_6496

IMG_6498

IMG_6499

Both couples shared a Duo-Deluxe Pudding. Ice cream, egg pudding, tapioca pearls, milk pudding and crushed ice. Not too sweet, lovely creamy pudding consistency, and the tapioca pearls were cooked just right!

IMG_6497

IMG_6495

IMG_6494

January 25, 2014

Saturday morning tennis! It was great fun, to the point that we continued playing in the rain, got completely soaked and then went for breakfast at the adjacent Saint Lucy Caffe.

IMG_6546

IMG_6544

Although we were all sore the next day, looking forward to doing it again!

January 31, 2014

Check out this interesting Christmas present Michael received from my sister, Jenni!

IMG_6577

Bacon marmalade! Looks mighty interesting doesn’t it?

IMG_6578

And look, just because it says bacon, doesn’t mean it’s going to kill you.

IMG_6582

Unfortunately, although it smelled really nice, the marmalade (which I am normally not a fan of) overpowered any flavour or taste of bacon. It was also way too sweet 😦 I wish it was a little more savoury!

IMG_6585See? I wasn’t joking when I said life has been dull. In the 3 weeks we’ve been back, these are all the “fun things” we’ve done 😛

Actually, I lied. On Friday, January 10th, we caught up with Amanda, Xuan, Sarah and Kee Ping over a lovely dinner at Wagaya!

And the following weekend, January 18th, we also went to visit Kristen, Matt and their adorable 1 month old (at the time) baby girl Abigail! She is too precious and we are looking forward to visiting them again soon. Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos 😦 Next time!

There, now that’s all the fun things we’ve done… I think! ^_^

Trip Report – Business Class: YOW-LHR-PEK-SIN-BNE

(Note: I think this is going to be a long post, but I hope you enjoy!)

Hello friends!

On January 7th, Michael and I began our journey from Ottawa back to Brisbane… in style 😉

With 90 000 Aeroplan points and the most lovely agent on the phone, we were able to book our entire flight back in Business Class, going the long way. Of course, we had to pay taxes, which came to approximately $600.

Here was our flight itinerary:

itinerary

And so begins my amateur trip report! It certainly was an enjoyable first experience, definitely wanted to document and share!

January 7, 2014

Flight AC888 YOW-LHR (Boeing 767-300)
Departing Ottawa at 9:45pm
Arriving in London Heathrow at 9:35am Jan 08
Flight time: Approx 5hrs 40mins

Seats 2C and 2F

We said farewell to our family around 8pm at the airport and headed in through security. One of the best things about flying executive quickly became clear. Priority lines. For everything. Makes life so much easier.

Once through security, we headed to the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge. A worn but roomy lounge with ample seating space. A conservative but good selection of drinks. There were also snacks, including some hot foods, I believe. We didn’t take a closer look, mainly due to being stuffed from dinner.

IMG_1044

IMG_1045

The lounge was quite deserted and quiet, but good environment to get some work done. Also a nice view of planes landing and departing for those who are interested. Bathrooms were spacious with large, private stalls and anything you might need (feminine hygiene products, body lotion, etc).

IMG_1046

IMG_1047

Boarded without any issues and I got to experience the Classic Pod for the first time. Not to mention they recline completely flat! Although slightly sad that configuration was 1-1-1 because it meant I couldn’t talk to Michael at all while seated.

IMG_1048

IMG_1051

We left around an hour late due to bad weather outside Ottawa causing half the crew needing to come in via taxi from Montreal.

Hot towel, champagne and nuts right after take off as opposed to before due to lack of staff – no problem!

IMG_1057

Every year, Michael and I exchange cards on our flight back to Brisbane. Continuing with that tradition and reading my card after take off.

IMG_1053

Happy in his seat under mood lighting.

IMG_1055

Dinner was quite tasty, I was impressed.

IMG_1059

Appetizer: Nova Scotia lobster, seared scallop and marinated shrimp served with quinoa salad and caper tartar sauce.

IMG_1060

Salad: Mixed greens, grape tomatoes and Parmesan served with balsamic vinaigrette. Also had warm crusty bread.

IMG_1061

There were a choice of 4 mains, I chose the Ricotta and spinach ravioli offered with rose sauce, basil chiffonade, portobello mushrooms and parmesan. The ravioli was delicious but I simply couldn’t finish it all.

IMG_1064

Mike chose the Sauteed Atlantic salmon accompanied by lemon and scallion sauce, a grain medley of wheat berries, long grain rice and acini di pepe pasta, french beans and baby carrots. Slightly dry salmon but good flavours and definitely good quality for airplane food. No photo, sorry!

For dessert, a chocolate pecan brownie with whipped cream. Certainly not close to being one of the best brownies I’ve ever had but still good, nice and warm too. I passed on the cream.

IMG_1068

A decent wine selection but no Canadian choices, which I thought was a shame!

One of my favourite aspects of these flights – amenity kits. This one was compact and included the usual items (eye mask, toothbrush, tooth paste, ear plugs, socks) as well as some beauty products by Vancouver company Escents.

IMG_6412

In terms of service, nothing was lacking. However, both Michael and I felt pleasantries were forced rather than genuine coming from one particular flight attendant. Going up to every single passenger with a list in your hand, mumbling or butchering names while saying the exact same greeting to each person comes across as robotic. When we greet people and are unsure of how to pronounce their name, the easiest and most polite thing to do is to simply ask, “Excuse me, how do I correctly pronounce your name?” Such a simple thing to do and you look a lot less ignorant.

I had ambitious plans to stay awake and get a lot of studying done for my MCCEE. Yea, that didn’t happen. I slept most of the flight, eventually waking up to have breakfast before landing.

Continental breakfast consisted of fresh orange juice, sliced seasonal fruit, yogurt and croissants (and blueberry muffins I didn’t see) with butter and preserves.

IMG_1071

And soon we touched down in London! We made a quick stop in the AC Arrival Lounge to freshen up before heading into the city. Paid a small fee to store our carry on luggage at the airport and headed into the city via the Heathrow Express Train (£34/person return).

On the train for just a short 15 minute ride into the city!

IMG_6304

IMG_6305

Arrived at Paddington station!

IMG_6306

Being on the streets of London for the first time!

IMG_6309

Due to our short layover (approx 8 hours total), we decided to go on a tour with The Original London Sightseeing Tour. The bus tour was great, we didn’t hop on and off like we would’ve it we had more time but got to see most of what it had to offer. It eventually got pretty cold being on the top of the double decker bus and not moving around at all! 😛

IMG_6333

Here’s a short video I put together of the sights we saw! London is beautiful, we’d love to come back and visit again when we have time… and money!

We eventually made our way back to Heathrow Airport. I didn’t take any photos of the Star Alliance lounge but it was packed, even for 2 levels. Apparently many flights going into North America were delayed due to bad weather which explained why the lounge was so busy. Had a nice shower to recharge for the next leg of our journey and enjoyed some snacks and drinks as well. 

Sooner than we wanted, we were zipping through lines in order to board our next flight with Air China to Beijing.

January 8, 2014

Flight CA938 LHR-PEK (Boeing 777-200)
Departing London at 5:40pm
Arriving in Beijing at 11:25am Jan 9
Flight time: 9hrs 15mins

Seats 16A and 16C

Warm greetings from all the staff, a near empty cabin and seats actually beside each other, we immediately knew we were going to enjoy this flight.

Within minutes of being seated, we were given our noise-cancelling headphones, amenity kit, slippers and menu. 

IMG_6392

IMG_6385

IMG_6388

Amenity kit with L’Occitane de Provence products, lovely!

IMG_6389

IMG_6390

And of course, champagne for take off 🙂

IMG_6383

IMG_6384

Good bye London!

IMG_6393

I didn’t take any photos of the cabin, but here are some from other (as linked) sources

Wine and more champagne

IMG_6395

Air China was serving their Winter menus. 

For dinner, Michael chose to have the Western option, which consisted of the following:

Amuse Bouche: Asparagus wrapped in parma ham, Scallop with keta caviar and radish and Hot Canape: Chicken kebab with chili sauce, Veg brochette

IMG_6404

Assorted bread roll served with butter

Appetizer: Seared scallops with noodles

IMG_6400

Salad: Fresh seasonal salad mix with Italian dressing or basil vinaigrette

IMG_6403

Main courses: Beef fillet served with Frisse risotto & vegetables OR Blue cheese gnocchi spinach & pine nut kernels

IMG_6405

Dessert: Apple crumble tart OR Bread & butter pudding OR selection of cheese with crackers

IMG_6408

IMG_6410

Seasonal fresh fruit

IMG_6406

Overall, Michael enjoyed all components of his meal and found everything quite tasty! And of course, very filling 🙂

For myself, the Chinese option which consisted of the same amuse bouche, hot canape, breads and dessert options, with the following differences:

Appetizer: Poached chicken thigh with sesame soy dressing, mushroom shitake with julienne carrot, and mixed peppers with black bean sauce

IMG_6398

Main courses: Monkfish with hot bean sauce served with peppers, asparagus and carrots OR Chicken Yu Hsiang Aubergine served with brocoli (both options include steamed rice).

IMG_6399

IMG_6397

I chose the Chinese option because I thought of all airlines, Air China would have Chinese food down pat. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. The food was alright but mostly bland. Comparing our meals, the Western option is certainly more elegant with much better and sophisticated ingredients.

Like the previous flight, these seats also laid completely flat, it was wonderful! Again, I didn’t get much studying but a lot of sleeping done. 😛

IMG_6414

IMG_6415

The flight certainly didn’t go by quickly, but was very comfortable and enjoyable. Service was impeccable and the bathrooms were spacious and well maintained. Air China has a small but decent drinks list, although we didn’t take advantage of it.

Lovely views passing by Mongolia!

IMG_1079

Breakfast!

As I had already chosen the Chinese breakfast option, I was anticipating disappointment after the first meal, haha!

My meal consisted of:

Plain rice congee with pickles, pickled spicy radish julienne, and mushroom wood fungus julienne. I’m normally a huge fan of pickles and especially fungus but again, not very flavourful.

IMG_6420

Dim sum with shrimp dumpling, sieu mai, char sieu bun, and chive & prawn dumpling. The dim sum was tasty, thank goodness!

IMG_6419

Mike had his Western breakfast of Scrambled eggs with bacon sausage & grilled tomato. Also danish, croissant, pain au choc & breakfast rolls with butter, marmalade, honey, cornflakes & milk, and fresh fruit. Of course he enjoyed his meal immensely!

IMG_6418

Again, comparing our meals, the Western option is much more substantial with more flavours.

Soon landing in Beijing!

IMG_6422

IMG_1084

Check out the crazy smog pollution… the closer we got to the city…

IMG_1086

I was last in Beijing in 2007, around a year before the Beijing Olympics. I remember the airport service being horrendous with poor service and extreme lacking in English speaking staff for international flights.

IMG_1088

The airport is still not completely efficient as they had only 1 kiosk open to proceed to international transfers. As a result, a haphazard, huge snaking line coiled around a tiny space that blocked way for further incoming passengers. Should’ve taken photos!

Once through security, we proceeded to International Air China Business Lounge (serving all Star Alliance members) located on the 2nd floor.

IMG_6440

IMG_6437

IMG_6438

The lounge itself is quite spacious with plenty of seating area, and multiple stations to get snacks (packaged pastries and sandwiches) and non-alcoholic drinks.

IMG_6425

IMG_1089

IMG_6431

There is also a separate hot food station. However, like the airline food, I don’t quite understand how the quality of Asian styled food is so low. It might taste alright if you are extremely hungry, however, we certainly didn’t go for seconds.

IMG_6434

IMG_6435

IMG_6426

IMG_1090

IMG_6427

IMG_6436

And unless we were mistaken and couldn’t locate other bathrooms, there are only 3-4 bathroom stalls in the entirety of the lounge, not enough!

The bar

IMG_6433

Otherwise a relaxing layover!

IMG_6430

View from the lounge

IMG_6439

 

IMG_6432

Heading to our boarding gate!

IMG_6443

January 9, 2014

Flight CA969 PEK-SIN (Airbus A330-300)
Departing Beijing at 3:25pm
Arriving in Singapore at 9:45pm Jan 9
Flight time: Approx 6 hrs

Seats 13D and 13H

Again, service was lovely as we boarded and settled into our seats. Although the seats were not as nice or private, we did find the cabin more spacious and open. We also liked the insect-antennae lamps.

The seats beside us.

IMG_6454

IMG_0885

Unfortunately, the cabin was quite full, with many Chinese passengers who find hoarking (Is this a real word? To bring up sputum and snot by snorting and hoarking) and spitting completely socially acceptable, as well as talking at full volume. Oh well, such is life!

No amenity kit either… 😦 But champagne for take off!

IMG_0886

Meals! We switched things up this flight. Mike decided to opt for the Chinese dinner option, consisting of:

Appetizer: Five spice smoked pomfret and Chinese salad: Marinated bran with vegetables and peanut

IMG_6447

Main courses: Gong Bao prawn OR braised chicken and chestnut with yellow wine sauce, both served with steamed pearl rice and seasonal vegetables, OR stir-fried assorted mushrooms with spring onion accompanied with jasmine rice and seasonal vegetables.

IMG_6446

Michael found the meal, “meh.” The main course was alright but he didn’t touch the pomfret and most of the salad.

Learning from my previous mistake, I chose the Western option this time, which should have included:

  • Amuse bouche: Tea smoked duck breast
  • Hot canape: prawn skewer with Thai chili sauce
  • Appetizer: Baltic style smoked salmon with black pepper
  • Salad: Fresh seasonal salad leaf with French dressing or Chinese vinaigrette.
  • Assorted bread roll served with butter
  • Main courses: Baked Tandoori fish served with raisin turmeric rice and curried vegetable OR stir-fried assorted mushrooms with spring onion accompanied with jasmine rice and seasonal vegetables.

IMG_6450

Unfortunately, bad luck struck again! Although I received my main course, apparently, they had made a mistake and were completely out of the other Western dishes. I said not a problem and accepted the Chinese side dishes… which weren’t very good and like Michael’s, remained mostly untouched. The Tandoori fish was very spicy and salty, I couldn’t finish it although the rice was extremely flavourful! Curried vegetables were mushy snow peas though 😦

Dessert: Hazelnut cake OR orange flavour chocolate cake OR selection of cheese with crackers AND seasonal fresh fruits.

IMG_6451

IMG_6452

Cakes were alright but not tasty enough to finish all of it!

This flight went by quickly and we soon found ourselves landing in Singapore!

IMG_6461

After transferring terminals and doing some duty free shopping (have to restock our bar ;)). For spending over $100 on duty free liquor, we got a free Spongebob SquarePants plush toy! I chose to take Patrick, complete with a deep innie belly button home.

IMG_6476

After shopping, we headed to the SilverKris Business Lounge.

Very spacious with ample seating room, this lounge reminded us of a gentlemen’s club with dark colours and leather seats. Lots of drink options and an extensive hot foods area although we didn’t check out the food. I was able to squeeze in a shower in their lovely bathrooms (that you don’t have to go to reception to get a key) which was refreshing and great.

IMG_6456

IMG_6459

Michael enjoyed a frosty mug of Tiger beer, of course

IMG_0887

We had a very brief 3 hour layover and soon found ourselves heading to our boarding gate for our last leg home.

IMG_6457

January 10, 2014

Flight SQ255 SIN-BNE (Airbus A330-300)
Departing Singapore at 12:45am
Arriving in Brisbane at 10:45am Jan 10
Flight time: Approx 7hrs 20mins

Seats 12H and 12K

Perhaps our most anticipated leg of the journey due to it being Singapore Airlines, the aircraft was probably one of their oldest and most outdated. The seats looked and felt tired, disappointment!

IMG_6463

IMG_6465

The service, however, was great as always on an SQ flight. Again, no amenity kit (why? :() but we did get funky slippers!

IMG_6462

As always, champagne for take off!

We opted for 2 meals during this flight. Both dinner and breakfast. With many naps lying nearly flat in between… 😛

For dinner, we had warm focaccia with smoked chicken, cheddar cheese and sweet onion relish. Delicious!

IMG_0890

Highland Park 12 Year-Old Single Malt Whisky for Mike and a Skyhigh (“An invigorating recipe featuring vodka, Cointreau, lemon, topped with 7-Up). I quite enjoyed all the unique Singapore Airlines’ cocktails on this flight.

IMG_0891

And egg noodles with braised beef brisket, mushrooms, and leafy greens. Also delicious!

IMG_0894

Before landing, we both enjoyed an American Breakfast with fruit yoghurt, poached eggs with Hollandaise sauce, bacon, ham, mushroom and roast potatoes. As well as breads with preserves. For airplane food, it was impressive and mighty tasty!

IMG_6469

Once landed in Brisbane, we proceeded through immigration and customs without any issues or delays. Once outside, there was no taxi queue, allowing us to immediately get into a taxi and be home within 1/2 hour.

Although we enjoyed most aspects of our flights immensely, it was a relief to finally be home!

Summary:

Best service: Tie between Air China and Singapore Airlines
Best food: Air China (LHR-PEK) for Michael, Air Canada (YOW-LHR) for me
Best drinks selection: Singapore Airlines (SIN-BNE)
Most comfortable: Air China (LHR-PEK)
Best entertainment: Air Canada (YOW-LHR)
Best lounge: Changi Airport’s SilverKris

Would we do it again? Yes! But only on points… 😉

And thank you to James and Kim for being so lovely! Not only did they keep an eye on our place for us, they made sure we had some fresh bread and milk in the fridge for when we got back! You guys are the best!

Yummy delights at Macarons et Madeleines

December 18, 2013

I finally had the opportunity to visit my sister and brother’s favourite bakery in Ottawa – Macarons et Madeleines – a beautiful, warm and cozy home bakery tucked away in Chinatown that specializes in French pastries.

A semi-detached house, the first things that greet you as you enter: delicious aromas of freshly baked goods and Stephan Ethier’s friendly welcome.

IMG_6076

As it is a business run out of their home, Macarons et Madeleines does not have space for customers to sit down and eat, however, that doesn’t mean that their atmosphere is lacking in any way.

IMG_6069

A price list and guest book are set up in the foyer, Christmas decor lines the small yet spacious room, even a lovely wood fireplace.

IMG_6070

IMG_6071

Looks like there should be a cat around, but we didn’t get to meet him/her!

IMG_6074

Macarons et Madeleines offers a small selection of approximately 10 pastries on a regular basis. For macarons, only a few flavours are chosen and made each week, many of them creative adventures suggested by customers. In addition, there are others (like the chocolate almond croissant) available only on the weekends. They are also very happy to work with you to create any custom orders you might have, which is great!

IMG_6073

Stephan is a very friendly and extremely passionate patissier (read his biography here). He was more than happy to thoroughly explain the story and work behind the pastries, provide any tips and answer any questions. I did not have a chance to chat with his wife that day, but my sister tells me she is lovely and also just as friendly.

IMG_6068

After a bit of a chat and being given some information on everything available, it was difficult not to get everything to try!

IMG_6078

Christmas macaron flavours available were: pistachio-cinnamon (red), hot chocolate with marshmallow (white), and eggnog with rum (yellow) – we bought 2 of each to share ($2/each). Our favourite was the pistachio-cinnamon, having the most vibrant flavours of the 3, as well as great colour for the holiday season!

IMG_6089

Since we’ve never had a Cannele Bordelais ($3) before, we had to try. A small striated cylinder with a crispy carmelised crust and a soft custard inside – rich, creamy and delicious!

IMG_6085

Croissant ($1.75) – flaky and tender, easily one of the best ones we’ve ever had!

IMG_6083

Pain au chocolate/Chocolate croissant ($2.50) – even better than the regular croissant because of its smooth, creamy, chocolate centre, mmm!

IMG_6080

Apple turnover/Chausson aux pommes ($2.50) – most unique one we’ve tried as it is made with a velvety home made apple puree filling. I love apple+cinnamon, this one definitely did not last long.

IMG_6081

We also got a Brioche Parisienne ($1.25) which was very nice as well!

Macarons et Madeleines offers delicious French pastries Wednesday to Sunday starting at 7am until quantities last. Definitely worth a special visit, I promise you will not be disappointed! Not only will you be warmly received into the home of one of the most passionate pastry chefs, you will surely leave with amazing treats that will leave you pining for more!

Macarons et Madeleines on Urbanspoon

AYCE buffet at Eclipse Asian Cuisine

December 16, 2013

At my mum’s friend’s recommendation, our family decided to have AYCE buffet lunch at Eclipse Asian Cuisine.

A reasonable, $12.95/person + tax/tip for weekday lunch.

Our first impression of Eclipse was, “Holy, heavy doors!” But we did appreciate the eclipse decor pattern on the glass.

Joking aside, the restaurant is large with 2 main seating areas, offering both tables and booths. We were greeted at the door and immediately shown to a booth. Recommendation: hooks by the booths to hang up coats!

The decor is nice and tasteful with wood and brown furniture against purple walls with circular white and yellow accents.

IMG_6023

We arrived shortly after 11:30am for lunch so it was not surprising that there were only a few other patrons in the restaurant. However, there was a steady flow of diners as we headed into lunch hours.

Before grabbing food, I walked around to take a look at all the dishes available and take a few pictures. I was quite taken aback when an employee, I assume the manager/owner as he was in a dress shirt and tie, saw me and harshly asked, “Why are you taking pictures?!” When I replied that I like to blog and was planning to write a review, and asked if taking pictures would be okay, he gave a curt nod of his head and walked away. Isn’t it easier to be friendly?

Anyway, I quite liked the set up of the food. A symmetrical, semi-circular area with an island at the centre and 2 smaller areas off to each side.

IMG_6042

IMG_6022

The presentation of the food was elegant, smaller portions cleanly plated on white square dishes. However, I believe this also allowed the dishes to cool a little quickly.

IMG_6021

There are many meat dishes (vegetarians will have a hard time here) and a number of seafood ones to choose from. Many of the classics (dumplings, General Tao’s chicken, egg rolls, stir-fries, etc) are available along with a selection of sushi, salads, soups, and desserts.

IMG_6019

IMG_6020

Hungry for food!

IMG_6025

IMG_6030

I found my mum’s side profile funny

IMG_6036

My plate. Trying to get a bite of many dishes…

IMG_6028

Unfortunately, my tiny, sesame ball with red bean filling was still raw on the inside.

IMG_6031

And 2 of us had big chunks of fat in one of our pork dishes, not a fan. Fat is the closest piece, pork behind it.

IMG_6033

Overall, the food and selection is good. Of course, the variety doesn’t match Emerald Buffet, but Eclipse still offers something for everyone in a nicer environment. Some dishes are cooked and taste better than others. I especially liked the salmon Teriyaki and salt and pepper shrimp. The sushi is decent, although if you are looking for sushi, I would definitely recommend going down the street for AYCE at Sushi Kan.

IMG_6040

Desserts were definitely disappointing, with a small selection of fruits, jello, ice cream and pre-bought desserts. Unfortunately, many pastries/cakes were dry as they are left open to the air. Would’ve loved to see some Asian desserts as well!

With reasonable prices and food, I’m sure we will find ourselves back when craving Chinese buffet!

Eclipse Asian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Mike’s 34th Birthday!

Another long overdue post!

Mike turned 34 on September 21, 2013 – woo hoo! We had a quiet day at home with just the 2 of us… focused on food, haha!

Started the day by making us some mini blueberry and white chocolate pancakes for breakfast! 🙂

IMG_5479

For lunch we went to our favourite local sushi restaurant, Sakura Sushi – they have new menu items! They keep improving every time we visit – highly recommended!

And a lovely homemade meal to celebrate for dinner 🙂

At Mike’s request, Banh Tam Xiu Mai – one of his favourite Viet dishes!

IMG_5481

Also made some coconut basil shrimp, mmm so tasty!

IMG_5484

Happy birthday my love!

IMG_5487 IMG_5488

And also at his request, Caramel infused chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing. My best homemade cupcakes yet, huge stamp of approval from the birthday boy!

IMG_5489 IMG_5490

And of course, presents!

IMG_5491

Wishing you many more happy birthdays to come my dear! ❤

Dinner with friends @ Epicurean

This is posted late, but I wanted to tell you about a delicious dinner we had at Epicurean (official restaurant of Inchcolm Hotel) back on September 17, 2013 🙂

Thanks to a weekly Dimmi Special, we were able to enjoy this restaurant for the first time at 50% off the food bill, drinks not included.

With dinner reservations for 7pm, we were greeted by the friendly staff and shown to our table. It was a quiet Tuesday night with not many other patrons except for a few I presume were staying at Incholm Hotel.

IMG_5378

Service was really great throughout the night, thank you especially to Richard for explaining the dishes and continuously checking in on us!

IMG_5376

We started off with wine and warm delicious bread.

IMG_5377

Next came the entrees which we shared between us.

Lamb Tenderloin, Pistachio Dukkah, Smoked Eggplant, Sumac Yoghurt, Lemon. Lamb was extremely tender and I especially loved it combined with the dukkah and yoghurt!

IMG_5381

½ Shell Hervey Bay Scallops, Salt Baked Apple & Onion Puree, Radish, Dill Oil. The scallops were sweet but I wish they had been seared (had absolutely no colour) and were accompanied by ingredients with a stronger flavour profile.

IMG_5382

IMG_5386

Hot Smoked NZ King Salmon Salad, Charred Potatoes, Candied Spec, Green Beans, 62˚C Egg. Smoked salmon was delicious and an interesting combination with the egg as well.

IMG_5379

White Rabbit & Mustard Fruit Rillettes, Moreton Bay Prawn Salad, Herb Brioche. I was worried, but the rabbit was tender and moist! The brioche, however, was too dry!

IMG_5385

Onto the lovely mains

I got the East Coast Gold Band Snapper, Roasted Peach, Sorrel & Green Peppercorn Cream which was absolutely lovely. The peach and peppercorn cream was a fantastic combination with the fish, which was perfectly cooked.

IMG_5387

Mike got the Pork Sirloin, Red Cabbage, Ricotta & Jamon Dumpling, Pear & Sage Emulsion which he said was, “deeelicious.”

IMG_5389

Kageen chose the Free Range Chicken (Breast & Leg), Pickled Ratatouille, Sweet & Sour Tomato Coulis, Fried Capers that she quite enjoyed.

IMG_5391

And finally, Xuan got King Reef Barramundi, Sand Crab, Tomato & Chive Mash, Sauce Nero with an additional side of Dutch Cream Potato Mash,Truffle Oil to share. The dish was good and it was interesting to try a squid ink sauce for the first time!

IMG_5390

Fortunately, with all of that, we still had room to try some of the desserts!

Mike and I shared the Belgian Milk Chocolate Mousse, Gin & Strawberry Gelee, Vanilla Crumble, Seasonal Berries. Beautifully decadent! The only thing we would point out is that the mousse was quite thick, more air would’ve been perfect but still delicious!

Kageen chose the Fruit Salad Compression, Crème de Framboise, Granita, Hazelnut Gelato as she had not compressed fruit before and found it quite refreshing. Her gelato had slipped off the starfruit in this picture.

IMG_5395

Xuan decided on the Classic Lemon Tart, Spiced Marmalade, Lime Crème that looked delicious!

IMG_5396

Thank you Epicurean for a great dinner with delicious food and wonderful service! We will definitely try to come back and visit again soon!

Group photo!

IMG_5400

Epicurean on Urbanspoon

Catching up @ Chocolate Pavillion

August 25, 2013

Sunday date to finally catch up with Nuangi!

Mike and I suggested a chocolate cafe we had seen during previous visits to South Bank – Chocolate Pavillion.

The place was lovely and we immediately liked the spacious sitting area and no lineup as you often see at Max Brenner. The menu had an extensive variety of drink and dessert options, most appealing and within comparable price to other chocolate dessert cafes in the area.

IMG_5285

IMG_5284

It didn’t take us long to make up our minds:

Nuangi chose the Sizzling Macadamia Brownie ($12) – A deliciously decadent Belgian chocolate and macadamia nut brownie. Served with gelato and smothered in hot chocolate sauce. The chocolate sauce was poured over the brownie at the table and sizzled away on the hot plate, unexpected pleasant surprise!

IMG_5278

Mike couldn’t resist ordering the Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch Toffee Sauce ($9) served with chantilly creme. Mmm, moist and sticky!

IMG_5280

And I decided on the Triple Chocolate Parfait ($9) – Three delicious layers of milk, dark and white chocolate. What better option to maximize the variety, tastes and textures of chocolate? So decadent!

IMG_5279

IMG_5282

We all definitely enjoyed our tasty desserts!

IMG_5281

Unfortunately, despite the good food, we experienced what many others have complained about on Urbanspoon. The service – or lack thereof. Chocolate Pavillion offers ‘table service’ that unfortunately doesn’t live up to its definition. Requests for water went ignored and food was dropped off without a single follow up to see how things were going. It’s fine, we survived. But honestly, why not just make it self-service like so many other places and save yourself trouble?

Would we return? Yes, definitely. The atmosphere and food were both very nice, not to mention a good place to get some studying done. We look forward to trying other items on the menu. Hopefully their service improves in the meantime!

Chocolate Pavillion on Urbanspoon