19 January 2010

The Queens Hotel

In our view, the Queens is somewhere you tend to go when a somebody who is from Perth but living in London or over east is home for Christmas and has organised drinks. It’s big, it’s central, its well-known and out-of-towners generally don’t realise there are several better places to drink in the same area.

These organised drinks are sometimes difficult at the Queens, because on a Friday or Saturday night the place is packed and they have exactly 3 staff manning the bar and 2 of those are trainees. While the beer selection is fantastic, the wine list is pretty average and as far as we are aware, no one has ever had a satisfactory gin and tonic at the Queens (we cannot stand those tiny tiny tumblers the mixed drinks come in). This means it’s kind of difficult to get drunk, which can make for a very frustrating Friday night.

Our views changed somewhat after our meal at the Queens. It was a sweltering evening when we, along with our good friends Double Skulls and F, hit the Queens. We had made a reservation some time before to make sure we had a table on the decking, so we had a great position in which to enjoy the balmy night and Double Skulls’ hilarious conversation.

Our waitress was not exactly friendly and seemed to be constantly frantic - she did everything we needed but not always quickly because she seemed to have about 300 hundred other tables to run. As we have already mentioned, the Queens is consistently under-staffed resulting in pretty average, impersonal service.

We started with beers all round and a bottle of wine, and soon moved onto an entree of spiced Moroccan calamari on cous cous, quesadillas and cacciatore. We do not think we have been to a restaurant yet and not ordered some form of squid (other than Rembrandt, but that’s only because the Poles are generally not well known for their calamari dishes). This squid was pretty good – it was reasonably tender and dusted with a mild Moroccan spice served on a bed of spiced cous cous. The quesadillas weren’t bad, but in comparison to the quesadillas at the Brisbane which are beautiful and thin and crispy and come with shitloads of salsa, guacamole and sour cream, they’re not quite as delicious.

For the mains, the Deliberator ordered a 400g rib eye steak with mushroom sauce and chips. His critical and considered review of the steak was that, and we quote, it was ‘all good’. He also noted that he gnawed the bone till his fingers bleed AND that the BWS next door is open to midnight Mon to Sat. Thanks Deliberator. On a strange and what turned out to be a very ill-considered whim, The Brains ordered the vegetarian option, which was a haloumi and vegetable strudel with a broad bean salad. The strudel was quite a nasty puff pastry affair that contained over half a tin of olive oil in it which made it pretty much inedible. But, it was the broad bean salad that stunned Brains – it was basically a few baby spinach leaves topped with unshelled (yes! unshelled!) broad beans. Who eats the skin of the broad bean? There wasn’t even dressing. The whole thing seemed unfished, but still, the disappointment was entirely her fault for being so stupid as to order a vegetarian dish. She will never do it again.

BOOTO’s kangaroo on a tomato and roasted red onion salad with a beetroot relish and was absolutely fabulous. The kanga could have a been a bit thinner sliced and a bit more rare, but on the whole was delish. It is worth mentioning that when she ordered, the waitress pointed out that the kangaroo was currently not being served in its usual manner (ie crusted), which ended up to be a plus given that kangaroo is a tasty enough meat that crumbs it needed not. The only real negative was The Brains looking longingly at her meal.

Meanwhile the Sponge was consuming his dinner which consisted of 100 pints and some scotch. Oh, and weisswurst sausages and mash. The mushroom jus on the sausage was allegedly ‘simply to die for’. F’s ‘barramundi’ on the other hand was a bit muscular, F thought that it had either been working out or had been using steroids. Therefore, F’s highlight was watching the Deliberator and finish the night by smoking the bone of his giant steak. Double Skulls chose the linguini with prawns which she thought was pretty tasty.

So all up, an enjoyable night with some unexpected food highlights – in summary:

Service: Efficient enough, but impersonal and not overly friendly. A smile or 2 would never go astray.

Food: A slightly mixed bag, but more positives than negatives.

Ambience: The decking area was a lovely place to be on a super hot night.

Highlight: The mushroom jus.

Lowlight: Some long waits for drinks and unshelled broad beans.

Rating: 3.7 fat yaks out of 5.

Will we be back: While we won’t fall over ourselves to get back, there’s no doubt that some function or other will be held there that we will be attending. And that won’t be a bad thing.

Details: The Queens is at 520 Beaufort Street Perth – they have a helpful website at www.thequeens.com.au; and their number is 9328 7267. The bill for 3 shared entrees, 6 main meals, 2 bottles of wine, 100 pints and some scotch came to roughly $70 per head.

Queens Tavern on Urbanspoon

12 January 2010

2 Fat Indians

Having had a pretty average experience at 2 Fat Indians in Cottesloe (which probably had more to do with being in Cottesloe than anything else), and being reasonably sceptical of this strange Indian chain restaurant thing that seems to be taking over Perth, the bloggers were not super fired up about their trip to 2 Fat Indians on Beaufort Street, but, as usual, tried to keep an open mind.

When we arrived we were warmly greeted and promptly shown to our enormous table. The table was huge. At least 30 people could sit around that table, so it would be perfect for the 4 of us and the 5 or 6 wine coolers they would require. We took in the atmosphere and were impressed by the understated but rather beautiful décor, fresh flowers, calming lighting and appropriate yet slightly wanky Indian lounge music.

The wine list was also impressive - an excellent selection of varying prices, regions and varietals - and all the appropriate beers to boot. So, in that stuffwhitepeoplelike kind of way, we felt obliged to order a couple of rounds of Kingfisher beers before we moved onto the first of our 4 bottles of white wine.

To the food. Instead of the menu, the waitress accidentally gave us each a copy of Britannica's Encyclopaedia of Indian Cuisine. The list of foods was staggering. The Starters menu was divided into 6 separate sections - vegetarian, chicken, lamb, seafood, platters and 'sizzlers' - each section had at least 6 selections and some selections had options. Christ. Asking the Deliberator to choose a starter would be like taking an epileptic to a rave - something terrible would happen so you just wouldn't do it. In fact, choosing a starter was even troubling to the Brains, who loves nothing more than to order for the whole table without paying heed to anyone's suggestions, preferences, food allergies or pregnancy status.

So, there was no way round it, it had to be a platter and, just to see what the hell they were, a sizzler. On the side we ordered Calamari Chilli Mili, which was calamari deep fried and tossed with vegetables and Indian spices. The platter comprised of samosas, paneer bhatti tikka, lamb seekh kebab, macchi amritsari, murgh malai kebab. We're embarrassed to admit that we don't know our macchi from our murgh or our bhatti from our amristari but it was all pretty bloody delicious. The sizzler was a combination of prawn, fish and chicken, cooked with onion, capsicum and kadahi masala gravy (ie, tandoori). The tandoori'd products were succulent, full of heat and piping hot. So far so very good. But it was the calamari that was the stand out – tender pieces of spicy squid quickly fried and served with (not too many) fresh vegetables. Impressive.

Moving to the mains. If we thought ordering starters was a chore, mains were practically impossible. The same 6 headings came up again, each with several selections, but this time with the addition of goat. After much bickering, backstabbing and juvenile squabbling, we landed on baby goat curry, palak paneer, lamb saagwala and murgh peshawari (which was chicken) and at least $350 worth of condiments, breads and rices. The best part about Indian food is the sides.

The goat curry was the standout, the meat was strong and the saffron flavouring was fabulous. The Deliberator loves nothing more than sucking on the bones of a dead baby goat, so he was in heaven. The rest of us had to endure around half and hour listening to him slurp out the marrow and chew off microscopic bits of meat left on the bone, then loudly spit the bones into the little metal serving bowl, ensuing each bone made maximum noise on departure from his mouth. The palak paneer was also a highlight, with the paneer being of the finest home-style quality which most definitely did not taste like the cans of palak paneer The Deliberator and The Brains so love to buy from Prime Products. The other dishes were good, but frankly, it is hard to distinguish them from similar dishes served at every other similarly priced and styled Indian restaurant in Perth, including: Bollywood, Nine Mary's, Chutney Mary's, Little Chutney's, Mela, the Cinnamon Club - the list probably goes on.

Of course, we had over ordered, so dessert was not on the cards. Instead, the Bloggers rounded out the night by lying on Booto's and The Sponge's couches, rubbing our bellies and discussing what form the meal would take in the morning (incidentally, that conversation continued by email for most of the next day).

In summary

Service: The service was really good actually, there was always someone around ready to bring us more wine. At one stage a waiter smashed a beer bottle on our table, but the apology was quick, the clean-up even quicker, and as a result we couldn't have cared less about it.

Food: Fresh ingredients, appropriate heat, tender meats and great condiments. However, not so amazing we couldn't wait to get back.

Ambience: Perfect - a great mix of low lighting, casual seating and spa-like décor made us feel like we could sit there for hours. So we did.

Highlight: The goat curry.

Lowlight: The Deliberator sucking the goats bones dry.

Rating: 3.5 goat femurs out of 5.

Will we be back: Hard to say really. Probably. Maybe. We don't know. Indian's hard, it's not something we eat all that regularly so when we do we tend to try new places. It is 100% better than its Cottesloe sister though.

Details: 2 Fat Indians is next door to the Queens Hotel. Call them on 9228 0720. It is fully licensed and our meal plus drinks came to about $70 per head. But we did over order and drink far too much.

PS: apologies, we could only find a picture of one fat Indian.

2 Fat Indians on Urbanspoon

11 January 2010

New years resolutions

As the Beaufort Street Bloggers sat by BOOTO and the Sponge’s pool, each with a glass of the cheapest Prosecco money can buy and a handful of Samboy Salt and Vinegars, we reflected on the year that was. There were some memorable moments in 2009 – Stinky had his first birthday and first European vacation, BOOTO returned to the workforce, The Deliberator and The Brains managed to order, and receive, a whole baby pig in Bali (that's him on the right) and The Sponge got a new front lawn. Yes, 2009 was a successful year for all.

Of course, there were disappointments. The Brains scored the least Brownlow votes in season one of her and BOOTO’s Tuesday night netball team. BOOTO didn’t get the bathroom renovation she’s been dreaming of. The Sponge did not quite reach his goal of 1 million beers drunk for 2009. Stinky’s salty snack intake is not nearly as high as he desires. And a BBQ duck house is yet to open within 20 metres of The Deliberator’s front door. But there was a unanimous agreement among the bloggers, the biggest disappointment of 2009 was the failure to complete the Beaufort Street Challenge.

Since the last post, we have regularly breakfasted at Soto, we once had the entire Beaufort Street Merchant menu in one sitting (and that’s not a word of a lie), we have enjoyed the view from the bar upstairs at the Scottsman, eaten charcuterie at Must, ordered countless serves of tempura prawns with wasabi mayonnaise from Koinonia and consumed Third Avenue café’s Café De Paris butter on at least 2 occasions. However, none of these meals qualified for the blog due to quorum issues.

With a new babysitter for Stinky, a fresh outlook for 2010 and a 4 insatiable appetites, the Beaufort Street Bloggers are back on track to meet their challenge. Thank you for your comments and emails of encouragement. We hope you forgive our tardiness and continue to support our mission – god knows we need it when we embark upon another year of slightly too tight pants and empty wallets.

Stay tuned for the first 2010 instalment of the Beaufort Street Blog.