Thursday, December 31, 2009

Breakfast on Bridge: Grace Food and Wine

Grace Food and Wine
306 Bridge Road
Richmond 3121
Ph: 03 9429 8929

As Bf and I sat in the very pleasant outdoor veranda one morning at Grace, looking through the extensive breakfast menu, I thought it might be time to ditch the usual Big Breakfast or Eggs Benedict in favour of a breakfast dish a little less mainstream. Unfortunately, by the time I'd finished my meal I was feeling unsatisfied and seriously craving that big breaky.

Grace cassoulet of chorizo, spicy beans and poached eggs with a parmesan crust, avocado salsa and sour cream ($16)

This was my first breakfast cassoulet. I'm not in any hurry to try a second. It was a fairly flavourless bowl of mush with a dry, bland "parmesan crust" which really just tasted like breadcrumbs. I enjoyed mixing the beans, sour cream and avocado salsa towards the end of the dish, but I was after breakfast, not Mexican burrito filling.

Grace big breakfast of poached eggs, bacon, sausages, tomato, mushrooms, beans, spinach and a hash brown on toasted Turkish bread ($17.50)

Bf, on the other hand, had "one of the best big breakfasts" he's had, trading the poached eggs for creamy, light scrambled ones instead. The tomatoes, a breakfast side that can sometimes be a bit dull, were strong in flavour from the fresh herbs sprinkled on top, and were given a smokey flavour from, I suspect, being cooked in the same pan as the bacon fat.

Drinks here are good; I had a beautiful creamy chai latte and Bf enjoyed his strawberry thickshake. I felt like I hardly saw the wait staff, as though service was just fine but not outstanding, but this could just be because we were outside, away from the action. Despite my cassoulet disappointment, Bf's breakfast has given me confidence in the rest of the menu, and I'm very interested in going back to sample one of the $9.00 lunch specials.

Grace Food & Wine on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! Here's what I'm eating today...

Basil, goat's feta and fresh tomato toasts

Salt and pepper calamari, served with a lemon aioli

Spinach, green bean and almond salad (Instant Entertaining, Donna Hay)

Above and below: Coquille St Jacques (Doyles Fish Cookbook, Alice Doyle)

Oven roasted garlic and vegetables; wilted bok choy with balsamic

Mum's famous potato salad

Asian noodle salad

Barbequed Char Sui marinated french lamb cutlets

Saturday, December 19, 2009

In search of a hangover cure

Thy Thy House
118 Victoria Street
Richmond 3121
Ph: 03 9429 8668

I've often heard people talk of spending lazy Sundays eating cheap, tasty little dumplings to cure a hangover. I used to swear by a can of tuna and a cup of tea to soothe me through the morning after but this odd combination doesn't seem to work anymore, so figured the day after my work Christmas party was a good time to test out the theory.

Steamed prawn wontons, $8.00

Despite being steamed, these wontons were covered in a greasy dumpling wrapper rather than the smooth, oil-free skin I was expecting. Still, the prawns inside were unprocessed, thick and juicy, with that little bit of crunch that fresh prawns have. Don't bother with the accompanying sauce though: its a thick, gluggy brown mixture that tastes like the flavouring sachet from a pack of two-minute noodles.

Scallops in chili and lemongrass sauce with rice, $8.00

This dish was part of a selection of $8.00 lunch specials; it had a bit of a kick from the chili but overall was quite bland. The vegetables were fresh and crunchy but the scallops were thin, old, and served without the delicious orange roe.

Service was provided by two young Asian boys with Aussie accents. I arrived and found them eating and watching The Nanny, but whenever I required service it was quick, attentive and warm. With a delicious Vietnamese beer (333, $6.00) lunch cost me $22 - good value for the quantity served, but the food itself was not remarkable. It's one of the more flashy looking restaurants along Victoria Street; perhaps next time I'll stick to one of the more authentic, grungy looking places. Still, those little prawn parcels, and all that rice, did indeed leave me cured of my hangover.

Friday, December 18, 2009

For a quick all rounder

Blue Train Cafe
Southgate Complex
Ph: 03 9696 0440

It was a beautiful warm day, and we needed a sunny balcony to sit on. Mum and I headed over to Southbank, walking past the endless rows of snooty-looking restaurants and headed up to an old favourite in the Southgate Complex, Blue Train.

Seared salmon fillet: soba noodle salad, soy dressing ($19.90)

You know a dish is truly fantastic when you cant stop thinking about it for days; that's how I felt about this salmon fillet. The crunchy noodle salad was a great accompaniment to the soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture of the salmon, and the soy dressing was strong and flavoursome without being too salty or overpowering.

Tandoori chicken salad: tomato, cucumber, Spanish onion, steamed rice, papadums, yoghurt raita ($19.90)

The papadums that came with Mum's meal were wholegrain, adding some interesting flavour and texture. Mum's meal was fresh and light but the tandoori chicken was quite dry with an almost stringy texture. Pairing it with the cool, creamy raita helped.

One tiny little critisism: the menu is divided into sections entitled "small plates" and "big plates", and goes on to list quite an extensive selection of "plates". This made the menu hard to read, as I was overwhelmed by the choice and it took me a while to gather what I had to select from. Service is not bad but not fabulous - when we had clearly not even touched our meals yet the same waiter who brought them out came and asked "How is everything?" - but overall Blue Train is a great spot for contemporary meals served fast and at reasonable prices; and a seat on the sunny balcony is the perfect spot to relax after a hard day's shopping.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Breakfast on Bridge: Ilios

144 Bridge Road
Ph: 03 9428 6144

Bf and I needed a quick breakfast on Bridge Road before work and I was in such a hurry that I wasn't going to worry about taking pictures or reviewing the place. After the service and food we received at Ilios, however, I couldn't not share the experience.

We both ordered big breakfasts and, after about five minutes of sitting outside, realised we hadn't been asked how we'd like our eggs done. I went inside to tell our waitress and was greeted by a bunch of surly looking floor staff, standing around behind the bar, none seeming too keen to find out what I needed. I found our waitress, who was by far the best out of the bunch, and asked if it was too late to ask for scrambled eggs. She spoke to the kitchen, who said it was fine.

This is is what the kitchen sent out, and a waiter delivered without question...

Cut up fried eggs; a terrible attempt at disguising the mistake of the staff. I understand that the kitchen would not be happy throwing out perfectly good fried eggs, but the menu specifies that the eggs are served however we like and good wait staff should remember to ask.

I found it quite offensive that the kitchen thought I was stupid enough not to notice, or that my standards were so low that I wouldn't care. I can just imagine the conversation between the chefs before our meals were sent out, them assuming that I wouldn't mind and deciding that the food was "good enough". I also was amazed that the wait staff let this go out without question; as a waitress myself, if I saw that coming out of my kitchen I would ask why the eggs looked so strange.

The rest of the big breakfast was quite good; the beverages we had - a latte and a mango smoothie - were great, but the poor service and lack of respect to customers means I won't be coming back.

N.B: Ilios has recently been put on the market for sale.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


My apologies for the lack of posts; a second job plus sudden increases in living expenses mean that I haven't had a lot of money to go out, or time to put up a new post. I'll be back soon!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Terra Rossa: Faultless

Terra Rossa
87 Flinders Lane
Ph: 03 9650 0900

Today, Kate's tram was running late as she made her way to our 1.30 lunch date. Sitting alone at in a restaurant, something I normally dislike doing, was no problem here at Terra Rossa; the staff made me feel incredibly comfortable. The male waiters were cheeky and charming but not sleazy, and the females made jokes and made sure I was comfortable at the small table. One waiter, who introduced himself as Damo, asked if I'd like something to drink, took one look at me and said "Cosmopolitan?". He picked my type instantly and told me it'd be the best Cosmo I've ever had.

Cosmopolitan ($17)

It's hard to narrow down the best Cosmo I've had as I've gotten through quite a few very good ones, but this was definitely up there, and their extensive cocktail list (containing both Terra Rossa specialties and classic cocktails) was perfect on this 28 degree day.

Pan-seared gremolata barramundi with sweet potato, charred asparagus and yellow pepper salad ($33)

The barramundi just melted in my mouth; the flesh was so soft and broke away from the fillet so easily, and the skin was left on to turn crispy and salty. The sweet potato was cold which was a surprise and I probably would have preferred it served warm. Nonetheless this was a beautiful, fresh salad, served on a bed of peppery rocket, that left me feeling full and satisfied, but not stuffed or heavy.

Linguini Marinara - fresh selected seafood tossed in garlic, chili, lemon and fresh herbs with olive oil and white wine or napoli sauce; shown here with olive oil and white wine ($23.50)

As beautiful as my dish was, I was so jealous of Kate's. It was so simple but the garlic and herbs smelt incredible as it was brought to the table. Kate said that the calamari was cooked perfectly, tender rather than chewy, and that while it was an oil-based sauce it was not overpowering as you could taste the quality of the olive oil.

Baked white chocolate and caramelised strawberry cheesecake ($13)

I don't often order desert, but we were having such a good time at the restaurant that it just seemed right to finish it off with something sweet. Kate and I shared this and it was the perfect end to the meal; light and crumbly and with perfect little shavings of white chocolate. I couldn't have eaten it all myself, so in my opinion it was perfect sharing size... but then again, I'm not much of a sweet tooth and Kate said she could easily put it away by herself.

Terra Rossa is a gem tucked away in Flinders Lane whose food, service and atmosphere I could not fault. The decor is beautiful and luxurious inside, all red walls and fireplaces and mirrors, and the manager informed me there are plans to extend further into the laneway to open up an outdoor eating area. The staff are young and energetic, and there was not one surly waiter, not one member of staff who looked like they'd rather be elsewhere. They also seem to genuinely enjoy working with each other, and this adds to the professional, yet casual, vibe of the place.

Terra Rossa is the kind of restaurant that does everything - tapas, breakfast, pizza - and does it well. They also have a cheese room, do functions, have most of the menu available for takeaway, and offer an $12 early bird lunch special from 11.30am-1.00pm. I was blown away by the service and the food, and will be back soon for breakfast.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Food court dining

Cafe Krifi
Victoria Gardens Shopping Centre
620 Victoria Street
Ph: 03 9421 6006

Dining in a food court is not something that I find very appealing, but if you work at Vic Gardens or want a bite before you see a movie at Hoyts, Cafe Krifi is probably your best option. It's one of a few sit down eateries in the shopping centre but is the most "restaurant-like", with a large open dining room and a spacious outdoor area.

The menu is long, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner and everything in between, with gluten free and vegetarian options. There's pizza, cakes, burgers, salads, and today we came to try out the breakfast menu.

Krifi Big Breakfast ($14.20)

Good crispy hash browns and bacon, and smokey sauteed mushrooms; the bland scrambled eggs, however, were a let down; quite flavourless and boring in texture.

Eggs Florentine with salmon ($16.50)

Krifi's version of this dish was generous in size and much more filling and satisfying than I thought it would be, and came with a thick stack of fresh salmon and good, rich hollandaise.

Krifi does a great cup of coffee too and Bf enjoyed his huge milkshake. Keep walking past the bain maries and long queues for greasy burgers and chips; the big windows, moody red lights and young, friendly (and good looking) service provides a brief escape from the hordes of Ikea shoppers and gym junkies that dominate the centre.

Cafe Krifi features in the Melbourne Entertainment Book.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

For the curry-loving recessionista

Funky Curry
164 Bourke Street
Ph: 03 9662 2299

I picked up the director of the Curry King Group, Ramit Thadani's business card when I visited the Bourke Street outlet of Funky Curry for takeaway lunch. "Where quality and service ends", reads the slogan on the bottom of the card. The language barrier is a factor at Funky Curry; when I was asking the names of some of the dishes there was much confusion as the staff thought I was asking to buy them. Despite any flaws in service or communication, the quality of the food is not lacking. The dishes are ladled out from a bain marie but you wont find hours-old, crusty or congealing curries here.

I heard about Funky Curry quite a while ago when their Recession special was advertised in a weekend paper and, a few days before pay day, I thought it was time to check it out.

Clockwise from left: naan bread, baingan dapyaza, paneer makhani ($6.50)

The bread was warm, fresh, thick and chewy; the soft paneer was coated in a sweet, buttery tomato sauce, but it was the baingan dapyaza that was the highlight - big chunks of eggplant and onion in a sauce that was oily and rich but not greasy or overpowering.

I was looking for a place that served up low cost, high quality Indian food, and simply observing the patrons of Funky Curry suggested that the food would be both those things, as the majority of the customers were students, Indians, or Indian students.
The small, crowded dining room and walls decorated with fluro signs means the Bourke Street outlet is not somewhere I'd probably sit down for a meal; the vibe is more suited to quick takeaway pick up. I am interested, however, in dining in at the Curry King Group's latest venture, Curry King on Bridge Road - stay tuned for that review.

Curry King Group has seven locations across Melbourne city, Richmond, South Melbourne, Docklands, Malvern and Hawthorn.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Looking for a new way to eat sushi?

Japanese Cafe Restaurant J
167 Exhibition St
Ph: 03 9650 9877

Walking down Exhibition Street with my mum recently, we were struck by the window display in a certain Japanese restaurant. Struck, perhaps, is not the right word - "grossed out" would more accurately describe how we felt, and dry retching would describe how we acted.

I'm sorry to all the people out there, flatmate J included, who think there is nothing wrong with sushi presented in burger form, who even think it's a great little idea, but there is something extremely off putting about the unnecessary fusion of fatty Western culture and delicate Japanese flavours. Besides, they just plain look cheap and tacky.

So you can imagine my amusement/horror when I received a call from my friend Kate inviting me to this novel little Japanese place. Kate, who spent much of her childhood in Taiwan, told me that she used to eat delicious cakes of rice topped with various ingredients like beef teriyaki or wilted greens that sounded similar to the sushi burger.

She chose to try her sushi burger in the "Sushi Burger Box" meal: a burger of your choice with a bowl of miso soup and a choice of one of five entrees - perhaps tatsuta age, tonkatsu or in Kate's case, gyoza - for $16.50.

Gyoza - Kate said these were great despite coming with strange side dishes like mashed potatoes and orange wedges - unusual, but she really enjoyed the combination!

Yakiniku Burger - Kate described this as "the Japanese version of a souvlaki".

Tempura Sashimi Bento ($21)

For those who aren't quite ready to try a sushi burger, there's plenty of noodle dishes, bento boxes and other entrees to choose from. I chose the most expensive bento box on the menu, the Tempura Sashimi Bento, and there were highlights as well as lowlights in the box I received.

The miso soup that accompanied came in a little cup to drink out of, rather than in a soup bowl, and the soup was excellent, with a strong flavour, fresh crunchy spring onions and plenty of tofu and seaweed. The tempura was light and crispy and coated a good selection of vegetables and two big prawns; the sashimi, however, was served in thick thick slices rather than delicate, melt-in-your-mouth pieces, and had browning edges. When I bit into one of the salmon pieces it tasted strange and bitter, although the others were fine. The little seaweed and celery salad that came with it was nothing special but the salmon nori roll had beautiful fresh fish, creamy avocado and crunchy cucumber.

Ichigo Daifuku - rice cake with fresh strawberry and sweet white beans ($3)

I'm not much of a sweet tooth but I was quite excited about desert after Kate's sister Miss Violonjello told her how amazing this rice cake was. The sweet little ball of glutinous rice had a really interesting, light texture, and the strawberry inside was juicy and fresh. Kate and I both agreed that, despite its small size, the strong flavour meant one was enough. The rice cakes can also be purchased to take away, like the sushi burgers.

"Looking for a new way to eat sushi?", the cafe's website asks me. To be honest, no. Maybe one day I'll bring myself to try a sushi burger, but for now I'm pretty happy with the way I consume my sushi. Service is quite good here and all in all J cafe is an eye-opening experience, and certainly not conventional - but then again, as Kate pointed out, maybe we don't know as much about Japanese food as we'd like to think we do.

Japanese Café Restaurant J on Urbanspoon

Fabulous Fresco service

Fresco Bar and Grill at Amora Hotel Riverwalk
649 Bridge Rd
Richmond 3121
Ph: 03 9246 1200‎

There's always a risk with hotel restaurants. Sometimes the food is fabulous and the service flawless; other times it seems as though the restaurant was an after thought once the hotel was completed, an extra place within the hotel to make a bit of money rather than providing an excellent hospitality experience. The bf and I decided to check out Fresco, a tiny dining room on the edge of the Yarra whose ambiance loses points with cheap bistro-style chairs and candle holders from the local $2 shop, but whose staff make up for it with almost faultless service.

Grilled bruschetta, pesto, Roma tomato, red onion and cheese ($12)

A fairly small serving size for $12, but nonetheless strong, fresh flavours and great with the accompanying rocket and balsamic.

Turkish bread with a trio of dips - shown clockwise from top is carrot and curry; avocado; and hummus ($12).

In Matt Preston's new book, Cravat-A-Licious (Random House), Preston warns against ordering "a trio of" anything, in particular the trio of dips, suggesting that "their presence can be a sign that the role of the chef in that establishment has been reduced to peeling the foil off tubs and waiting for the microwave to go 'ping'." Indeed, the dips were nice enough but the carrot and curry tasted and looked more like eggplant, and the avocado reminded me of those pale, bland processed dips from the supermarket.

Katsu king prawns with sesame salad and sweet chili ($15.50).

Bf asked if this entree dish could be ordered in a main size; the waitress told us it could. When it arrived we thought it was a rather small main - "Imagine how small the entree must be", quipped Bf. When the bill came and we saw we'd only been charged for the entree size we were informed that the other waitress was new, and didn't yet know that the size of the dishes could not be changed. To apologise for the mistake, we were given the more expensive meal for free when we presented our entertainment card.

"Fresco char-grill" - choose from sirloin or eye fillet beef, chicken breast or salmon fillet. All char-grills are served with crushed chat potato, spring onion and parmesan cake, and a choice of wild mushroom ragu and porchini powder, or peppercorn cream sauce with rock salted roasted Roma tomato.

Shown here is the black Angus sirloin of beef with peppercorn cream sauce ($31.95)

The sirloin was nice, but a little more medium than medium rare - it seems to be the case that at a lot of restaurants you have to ask for your meat to be more rare than you actually want it. The tomatoes were fine but hardly rock salted, and reminded me of the kind of tomatoes you'd quickly whip up in the fry pan for breakfast. Probably the highlight was the potato, spring onion and parmesan cake: light and fluffy with a slightly crispy outer, great for soaking up the rich jus from the sirloin.

The value here is good, but not great - what makes it worth visiting is the service. On the night, there were about four waitresses on the floor, but it was one young girl in particular who was exceptional and was clearly holding the whole team up. She was attentive but never annoying, and when she saw my camera she asked if she could take a photo of Bf and I with it. We left the restaurant feeling happy and relaxed and a lot of that came down to this waitress who was bubbly and always smiling, and for her, nothing was too much trouble.

You won't be blown away by your meal, but if you're looking for a contemporary restaurant that's reasonably priced - especially if you have an Entertainment card - expect to enjoy good food and near flawless service.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Holy Shuck!

Royal Oak Hotel
527 Bridge Road
Ph: 03 9428 4200

Walking along to work the other day, my jaw literally dropped when I saw this sign. $1 oysters for the whole month! I was so excited; one of my favourite foods for only a dollar at the local. Then I remembered that I was standing outside the Royal Oak, a TAB pub whose largest space is taken up by pokies and a sports area; a place I had never eaten at before and probably wouldn't have tried if it weren't for the oyster special.

Natural oysters, $1 each. Kilpatrick, $1.50 each.

A fresh, salty natural oyster normally overwhelms my palate with its refreshing brine and soft, smooth texture. A perfect oyster leaves me delaying eating anything else for as long as possible to savour that amazing taste. Last night, I left with a pleasant taste in my mouth, but that's all it was; the oysters were just "nice". The taste was more fishy than fresh and salty, and presentation could have been better; rather than the usual rock salt or ice, the oysters came out on a bed of browning iceberg lettuce.

I've often walked past this pub and looked in at the rows of elderly people sitting at the slot machines, and it seemed like little else was going on in there. Indeed, when J and I went, the only people in the bistro were ourselves and a family of four. "We have our nights", said the waitress, especially when the footy's on. For anyone who has spent an afternoon or evening at the MCG I can understand the appeal of this pub; cheap beer and the constantly changing specials, including steak nights and parma nights, make the Royal Oak seem like a good option for a quick, cheap feed. Service is surprisingly young and friendly, too.

These oysters are a bargain but they're not worth crossing town for. If you're a local, stick to the kilpatrick variety; the rich, tangy sauce and crispy bacon helps to distract from the mediocre quality of the oyster.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The inaugural Newtown Farmers Market

Newtown Farmer's Market
Cnr Shannon Ave & West Fyans St
(Mel 451 F7)

Today was the first ever Newtown Farmer's Market and at 8.30 this morning, my family and I went to check it out. Sitting at the bottom of a grassy valley, the market had a good number of stallholders and patrons, despite the freezing morning wind.

The stallholders were selling products ranging from fresh fruit and vegetables to olive oil, cheese, smallgoods, fresh pasta and condiments, as well as ready to go food at the sausage sizzle and dumplings stall. Many of the products were award winners, such as this marinated goat's cheese from Meredith Dairy, winner of the Consistently Excellent Product award in the Vogue produce awards.

Screaming Seeds Spice Company, a regular at markets and a family favourite for their Dukkah.

One of the best things about farmers markets is the people. Its fantastic to be able to talk to the people who produce your food and see the genuine passion they have for their products. One stallholder, from Jean's Famous Relish, claimed his wife's tomato relish was the best pizza base you'd ever try. The pride these people have for what they've created makes for a great atmosphere, as your purchases support someone's passion.

There's also the people who don't actually make the products, but genuinely enjoy selling them because they know they're selling quality. If you're ever at a market and you see the banner for Wun Hung Lo, be sure to stop by and say hello to the friendly sales guys with great senses of humour. We sampled their dim sims and chicken dumplings and bought two frozen Chinese containers full of dumplings at $5 a box - they were beautifully fresh with not a trace of gristly meat as you sometimes find.

Trampy Tomato Relish, from Olive Branch Preserves - so called because "It goes with everything".

Our purchases, Clockwise from left: La Madre seeded sourdough, $5.50; Wildings Pantry Essentials spiced Indian relish, $9; Bagdad Foods Kashmir chutney, $8; Lemon curd (from the Meredith dairy stall), $4; Jean's Famous Relish in chilli, $7; Boosey Creek camembert, $7; Meredith Dairy Chevre Dill, $7.

The market had a great first day, with a family atmosphere and friendly stallholders and, with the large amount of space it has to expand, it can only get better.

The Newtown Farmer's Market will be held on the 4th Saturday of the month, from 8am to 1pm. The next market will be held on the 24th of October.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Set your own table at this family friendly pub

Inlet Hotel
45 Great Ocean Rd
Aireys Inlet
Ph: 5289 6270

In 2004, Melinda Houston wrote in The Age that the Inlet Hotel provided value that "is hard to go past". Perhaps there has been a price rise because, when my family and I visited on the third night of our holiday in Aireys Inlet, we agreed this local pub was not the kind of place you'd describe as value for money.

Yearling rump steak with chips and salad - choice of mushroom, pepper, garlic or gravy sauces - shown here with garlic sauce ($25.90)

As above, with pepper sauce.

I love when there is a seafood platter on offer and used to jump at the chance to order one, but it was my dad who taught me that buying a "fisherman's basket" at your local pub is probably not a good idea if you want to avoid grease and chewy calamari. We discussed The Inlet Seafood Platter, however, and agreed that if you're going to get a platter from a pub, one right on the coastline such as this would probably be a safe bet.

The Inlet Seafood Platter - a selection of prawns, oysters, smoked salmon, fried fish and calamari ($36.90)

The salmon was fresh and delicious, sitting on salad of lettuce, tomato, carrot and red onion, and the combination of the onion and salmon was great. The oysters were very nice, but definitely not the freshest I've had. Those two items were the highlights of the platter, and the rest of the seafood was quite average.

The first piece of calamari that I took a bite out of was tender and easy to chew, but I must have just been lucky because the majority of the pieces after that were so stringy that I couldn't bite them in half. The menu proudly states that the calamari is "house crumbed" - we discussed that perhaps this simply means the seafood arrives processed and frozen, and dunked in some bread crumbs before serving.

The prawns were a good size, but instead of tasting fresh and having a firm texture, they were bland and almost mushy. The fish itself was fine but the batter wasn't cooked all the way through, leaving a doughy covering around the fish.

Chicken Parmigiana, breast of chicken with ham, napoli sauce and mozzarella cheese with chips and salad ($23.90).

The parma was good: a thick piece of juicy chicken breast, and a fresh salad that was very welcome to cut through the grease of the average tasting chips.

Premium rib eye steak, with horseradish mash, roast vegetables and red wine jus ($34.90)

This was a very nice dish; the creamy mash and rich sauce were great accompaniments for the tender steak.

Roasted chicken Maryland with a chickpea, preserved lemon and apricot tagine ($21.50).

There is definitely a place for the Inlet Hotel. It's very much a family friendly establishment; most tables had children, and two little boys ran noisily around the restaurant uninterrupted. The pub is attempting to keep up with its city counterparts, offering plenty of gluten free options, but expect to set your own table and get your own condiments. With an average-tasting seafood platter sitting close to $40, and the cheapest main - risotto of roasted tomatoes, basil, pine nuts and goats cheese - at $19.90, the Inlet Hotel has the kind of prices you'd expect in major cities, without the freshness and quality.