The Ivy (Los Angeles)

I’ll be upfront with all you lovely readers – I was attracted to The Ivy because of its stake in the celeb world, rather than its menu’s reputation. Perhaps I could meet Kourtney Kardashian there and become her new best friend! After all, there was a Kardashian onesie store right across the road. But let’s get back to my night at The Ivy

'The Ivy' by night.

‘The Ivy’ by night.

After being warmly welcomed to our seats by the wait staff, the four of us (N, my sis, and her boy Vic) began to marvel at all the beautiful rustic decor and the gorgeous fresh flowers on our table. Well, when I say ‘we’ I mean my sis and I – the boys kept telling us to stop taking photos!

Beautiful fresh flowers add to the warm atmosphere.

Beautiful fresh flowers add to the warm atmosphere.

I perused the menu for a long time before finally deciding on the lobster club sandwich with freshly cut french fries. With a $35.75 price tag, I was hoping for something extra special!

The beautiful Christmas tree, still shining brightly.

The beautiful Christmas tree, still shining brightly.

As we sipped on promptly delivered cocktails, my sis and I became ‘snappy happy’ and took photos of all the knick knacks and decorations around the restaurant.

Brightly coloured cocktails.

Brightly coloured cocktails.

So much pretty crockery.

So much pretty crockery.

From yet another angle!

From yet another angle!

It wasn’t too long before the meals arrived. The serving sizes were large (what else would you expect in America?), but I must admit I was a little disappointed. It was strange eating a club in which the lobster was stone cold but the rest of the sandwich was warm. The lobster itself, however, was really delicious so I ate it separately!

The monstrous lobster club. I couldn't eat it all!

The monstrous lobster club. I couldn’t eat it all!

Our waiter then offered us the dessert menu. Without hesitation, we accepted and became hungry all over again as we read phrases such as ‘Fresh Key Lime Pie’, ‘Ricky’s Triple-Layer Chocolate Cake a La Mode’, and ‘Apple Blackberry Crumble with Homemade Tahitian Vanilla Gelato’. Pure poetry. I decided on the ‘Creme Brulee’ and let me say every mouthful was heaven. I was so full but I kept shovelling it down my throat as the flavour was one of the best I have ever tried!

My delicious creme brulee – which ‘cracked’ on top and was music to my ears!

I must say the desserts were far more impressive than the main courses. Here is what the rest of the crew ordered…

Vic's banana split - so much food that you can't even see the banana. And yes, that side dish is various toppings for this mind-boggling dessert!

Vic’s banana split – so much food that you can’t even see the banana. And yes, that side dish is various toppings for this mind-boggling dessert!

The profiteroles with homemade pistachio, caramel and praline gelato (yes it's inside).

My sis’ profiteroles with homemade pistachio, caramel and praline gelato (yes it’s inside).

Told you it was inside!

Told you it was inside!

The famous 'Ivy' sundae.

N’s famous ‘Ivy’ sundae.

All desserts were served with The Ivy’s homemade cookies. I must say they were well-baked, even if my stomach was about to explode as I nibbled on one!

If you’re lucky enough to visit LA, why not visit The Ivy. You may be luckier than me and see a celeb!

Details
The Ivy
Where: 113 N Robertson Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
When: Brunch, lunch and dinner
Cost: From $12.75
Website: Click here!
Yum rating: 4/5

The Ivy on Urbanspoon
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I’m baaaack!

Dear Readers,

I realise it’s been a long, long time between courses, but after travelling around the USA and taking on a new role at my place of employment, I am pleased to announce that I am now back on the eating and blogging scene!

In the pipeline are many American restaurant reviews, as well as some information about eateries around Australia.

Please stay tuned for what I will plate up shortly!

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Hotel Sacher, Vienna

Forget apple strudel or pork schnitzel, the Austrian culinary invention I always longed to sample was the Sacher-Torte. For those of you who need to be brought up to speed, the Sacher-Torte is the world’s most famous chocolate cake. Invented by Frances Sacher in 1832, this Viennese treat differs from most normal chocolate cakes because it is thinly coated with apricot jam. So, on my recent trip to Vienna, I decided to go straight to the source – the Hotel Sacher. This landmark prides itself on having the secret and original recipe of this much-loved dessert, so as you can imagine I was keen to give it a go!

A few friends and I entered the Hotel Sacher Wien on a very cold winter’s day. We had to wait by the entrance for about fifteen minutes before a table became free. We were then shown to a table for four by a waiter, who (a) knew we were (budget-stricken) tourists and (b) was not amused.

I decided to order what some may regard as the Vienna special – a serving of the Sacher-Torte and a Viennese coffee (coffee with cream on top, sprinkled in cocoa). Our orders didn’t take long to arrive and soon I was able to try the chocolate cake of my dreams. It looked perfect sitting on the plate next to a helping of whipped cream. But I dug in anyway!

The Sacher Torte in all her glory.

The Sacher Torte in all her glory.

I took a bite…and then another…and then another. The cake was rather dry and not like the moist cakes I was used to back home. The jam gave it another element of flavour, but it was only a slight hint of sweetness. I dunked part of the cake in the cream, which helped a bit. But my true Viennese experience, I’m sad to say, truly just tasted like chocolate cake.

It was presented with a napkin, which I have kept as a momento of this experience.

It was presented with a napkin, which I have kept as a momento of this experience.

Now, fine reader, don’t get me wrong – the cake was baked to perfection. But I think I built the cake up so much that I could only be left to feel disappointed.

Our table's selection of cakes from Hotel Sacher.

Our table’s selection of cakes from Hotel Sacher.

This is one experience you still must tick off if you ever visit Vienna – even if it’s just to visit where the Sacher-Torte began!

Details:
Where: Cafe Sacher Vienna, Philharmonikerstraße 4, A-1010 Wien
When: Open daily from 8am until midnight
Cost: $10-$15 AU
Yum rating: 3.5/5
Further details: Website

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A Day Out In Burra (La Pecora Nera and Gaslight Collectables)

La Pecora Nera (The Black Sheep) is gaining popularity with people who pass through Burra. Having visited this Italian restaurant a couple of years ago on our way to Broken Hill, N and I were keen to see whether it was just as good as we remembered. In our close circle of friends, this establishment is just as famous for its co-owner Paolo and his trackies and (ahem) bum crack. But, dear reader, I assure you the food was just as good as Paolo’s theatrics on this fine Saturday afternoon.

Rustic Italian charm

Rustic Italian charm

We rocked up for lunch with our newly engaged friends and immediately noticed how much it had expanded in two years. A big back room, more staff, and a relaxed-looking Paolo and Clare (his wife).  We immediately ordered the antipasti for four. I think I’ll let the pictures do the talking…

Yum..

Yum..

...yum...

…yum…

...even more yum.

…even more yum.

Such simple-looking dishes but the flavours were oh so right. Somehow only the Italians can get away with this!

The pizza was truly Italian in every way. Thin puffy bases with a selected few ingredients. I loved the prosciutto pizza it must be said! As our friend pointed out, this pizza was so much lighter than what we’d find in any other Italian restaurant back in Adelaide. It was therefore okay to gobble down an extra piece without feeling (too) sick.

Simple and fresh flavours. I was salivating!

Simple and fresh flavours. I was salivating!

Our dessert was two scoops of gelati each. I did want to try the tiramasu or cheesecake, but I think I would have exploded. Lemon and pistachio gelati was a delicious compromise though.

I barely fit this in!

I barely fit this in! You are given crayons to draw on the tables. It keeps (big) kids entertained for hours.

This restaurant takes me back to my time in Italy, where I overindulged in pizza, pasta, and gained two kilos overnight. Therefore, it’s probably a good thing that it located about two hours away from where I live. And, with drinks, it worked out to costing only $25 each. Okay, so we did share the pizzas, but you’ve got to admit that’s pretty good value!

I’d also like to quickly mention to Gaslight Collectables, where we went for a pot of tea after. It had amazing collectables and gorgeous vintage tea sets. I was tempted to have a scone with my cup of (tea bag) tea, but I couldn’t fit it in. Oh well, there’s always next time…

Vintage decor

Vintage decor

Our pot of tea

Our pot of tea

Details
The Black Sheep
Where: 3 Upper Thames Street, Burra, SA
When: Wednesday to Sunday for breakfast, lunch and dinner
Cost: $13+ for main courses
Yum rating: 4.5/5
Further details: Website

Gaslight Collectables
Where: 20 Market St, Burra, SA
When: 7 days, 10am-5pm
Cost: $3.50+ for coffee and tea
Yum rating: 3/5
Further details: Website (hasn’t been updated for a year though)

La Pecora Nera on Urbanspoon

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Stirling Hotel (Bistro)

I wish I could say my visit to the Stirling Hotel in the Adelaide Hills was because of its rave reviews, but really my work colleagues and I chose it because the Organic Cafe was full!

This particular Friday afternoon, the beautifully renovated ultra-modern pub was alive and kicking – it was loud, it was noisy, and it took the six of us a few minutes to find a quiet table. This didn’t bother me as I thought the more people there were, the better the food. Little did I know that we were about to run into some problems…

My dining buddies and I went up to the bar to order. There was one seemingly frustrated girl serving, which we didn’t mind as it gave us some time to catch-up on the latest gossip. I was in the middle of a conversation about my friend’s latest travels in Vietnam when someone rudely shouted across the bar, “You need to MOVE out of the walkway so people can ACTUALLY get past you”. It was the frustrated girl! “Errr okay,” I said dumbfounded, and shuffled back into the line.

By now there were ten people lining up to place their orders. A group of ladies in front of me accidentally mixed up there order, apologising profusely to the frustrated girl, who proceeded to roll her eyes and sigh heavily.

The American cheeseburger himself. It was average tasting and the chips were cold!

The American cheeseburger himself. It was average tasting and the chips were cold!

Finally it was my turn to order, and I decided to follow the Adelaide burger trend by choosing the American cheeseburger ($18, which included beef, cheese, ketchup, American mustard, pickle, chips) and a bottle of Coke. When I asked if I could please have a bottle rather than the (horrendous) tap Coke, Ms Frustrated stormed over to the fridge around the other side of the bar, and then slammed my glass and bottle onto the counter. Biting my tongue, I paid and joined my friends.

The meals took about 15 minutes to arrive, which was pretty good considering the pub was packed. I liked the way my burger was presented, however I thought it came with a few too many pickles (I pulled a few out). My chips were also quite cold and a bit soggy. The dipping sauce on the side was full of flavour and helped to make the chips taste nicer!

The last straw was the chai latte, which came in a mug that was 2/3 full of milk froth. Luckily I had my friend’s travel photos to look through, otherwise the afternoon would have been a total waste of time!

Details
Where: 52 Mount Barker Rd, Stirling
When: 7 days for breakfast, lunch and dinner
Cost: $16+ for main courses
Yum rating: 2/5
Further details: Website

Bistro, Stirling Hotel on Urbanspoon

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Ramsgate Hotel

Ahh the good old Ramsgate Hotel. It’s probably more famous for its footy player brawls than its food (who could forget the punch-up between Adelaide Crows player Mark Ricciuto and Port’s Josh Carr?). Luckily in recent years the hotel has had a major refurbishment and its reputation has started to mend. So, on an overcast Thursday afternoon, my long-time friend MP and I met at Henley Square for lunch. Pub meal? You betcha!

Our glasses of lemon, lime and bitters were quite small.

Our glasses of lemon, lime and bitters were quite small.

Having eaten massive meals for the past few days, I ordered the closest thing to a detox – a warm chicken salad. This consisted of chicken breast on top of a greek salad (fetta cheese, olives, red onion, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber), with a yoghurt dressing that had a slight garlic flavour. MP had the same meal!

I went up to the bar to place our order. The guy who was serving explained that it was his first day, and he had to ask his manager for assistance when I handed over a discount voucher. This was not a problem, as he chatted to me kindly while he waited for help.

The bar with all the beer quotes above it. Note there are no customers around!

The bar with all the beer quotes above it. Note there are no customers around!

On our way back to our table, MP and I noticed a) the wide range of beers available on tap and b) all the interesting beer quotes that decorated the front bar. We didn’t have time to read them all as our meals had arrived! As we had ordered the same thing, we were able to discuss the salad in detail. As far as flavours go, the salad was quite bland. Perhaps the dressing could have slightly stronger to give it more ‘omph’. The chicken could have also been marinated for longer and cut into smaller pieces so it was distributed throughout the salad. On a positive note, I thought the fetta cheese was light and not too salty, while the cherry tomatoes were sweet and juicy. MP gave her salad a 6.5/10, which I thought was about right for an $18.90 salad (it was also gluten free).

Our salads, side by side.

Our salads, side by side.

Close up of my salad. Probably a bit overpriced for what is in there.

Close up of my salad. Probably a bit overpriced for what is in there.

The biggest surprise of the day was the lack of customers. Being school holidays I would have expected a few more people to visit over the lunch hour. Perhaps the inclement weather kept everyone away from the Ramsgate’s usually popular beer garden!

Details
Where: 328 Seaview Rd, Henley Beach
When: Lunch 12pm-2:30pm; Dinner 6pm-9pm
Cost: $15+ for main course
Yum rating: 3/5
Further details: Website

Ramsgate Hotel on Urbanspoon
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Cafe Komodo

Today I met my parents for lunch on Prospect Road. We went for a walk to find somewhere to eat when I spotted the following sign…

Coffee and good music? Hell yeah!

Coffee and good music? Hell yeah!

Intrigued, I led my parents down a narrow garden path. At the bottom sat an old garage containing a 60s retro cafe. With music from yesteryear playing in the background, my parents were in heaven. There was no way we were leaving the little gem we had discovered!

The hanging doors displayed the day's specials.

The hanging doors displayed the day’s specials.

We were greeted with a simple ‘hello’ from a man making coffee, and then a waitress brought us some menus. There was basically two options – the all-day brunch or the salad/burger menu. There were also some specials written on a couple of old hanging doors, but I didn’t realise they were there until it was too late - we were never alerted to them! As we were not really sure if we were going to be waited on, Dad walked up to the counter (which was covered in 60s wallpaper) and placed our order.

Cute retro furniture...Mum and Dad enjoyed stepping back in time.

Cute retro furniture…Mum and Dad enjoyed stepping back in time.

With only three other tables to serve, our meals arrived very quickly indeed. Without being rude, I must say the waitress who served us our meals was much friendlier than the first two staff members we had encountered.

As I wasn’t overly hungry, I had scones with jam and cream ($5.50) and a ‘very berry’ smoothie ($6.50). I am pleased to say my scones were warm and fresh, and my smoothie was cold and, well, berrylicious!

A warm scone with a delicious berry smoothie.

A warm scone with a delicious berry smoothie.

Mum had the roast vegetable salad ($16), stating that it was ‘divine’. I definitely agree, as I tried her selection. The fetta cheese was a stand-out – very smooth and not too strong. Dad, on the other hand, had what he described as a ‘tasty’ burger (approximately $18 – I can’t quite remember, sorry). Each meal was served on a vintage plate with retro cutlery, making this nostalgic experience complete!

The roast vegetable salad. Chicken could be added for an additional $5.

The roast vegetable salad. Chicken could be added for an additional $5.

Dad's big burger!

Dad’s big burger!

Cafe Komodo is a stand-out for its decor alone. The food is also amazing, with vegetarian and gluten-free options readily available. It would have scored a 5/5 ‘Yum rating’ if all staff had been super friendly. A smile definitely goes a long way!

Record sleeves cover the wall...

Record sleeves cover the wall…

...as do the records themselves!

…as do the records themselves!

Details
Where: 118 Prospect Road, Prospect
When: 7 days for breakfast and lunch; Friday nights for dinner and live music
Cost: $16+ for main course
Yum rating: 4/5
Further details: Website (doesn’t look as though it’s been updated for awhile though)

Cafe Komodo on Urbanspoon

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