Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Vic, Subiaco - 50%

The Vic in Subiaco sees a small, but consistent, business from my work crew. It is well-positioned on Hay st with few other options around. When the food court isn’t atmospheric enough for a welcome, going-away or birthday, we know that The Vic will always have capacity. I’ve had steak there numerous times, but not since they’ve rebranded themselves as the “Grazier’s Steakhouse” (which I think extends to just the name, as the fittings and menu haven’t changed at all). Food there is pretty good value, especially since they're a member of the ALH Group, they have specials every day of the week. Even when there aren’t specials, the servings are generally enormous.

The service today was quite efficient especially considering the size of the group. Our orders were taken quickly, and delivered without much delay.

Grazier's Rump, Lettuce, Tomato, Cheese, Tomato Relish and Chips

The steak sanga arrived barely warm, with a basket of chips and a small dish of tomato sauce. The steak was brought to the table as a "medium-rare" instead of the rare I had requested, but the waitress vagued out on the names of lots of dishes, so I'm not sure if that was actually the case. Sadly the steak had a long piece of gristle running down an entire edge, so I gnawed, rather than ate, the sanga. The steak was well-sized for the bun, but quite flat and thin, and lukewarm from the get-go. As it was the first thing to come out of our order, it shouldn’t have been waiting for anything, so this suggests it had been sitting around for a while. The bread was a Turkish bun, which I liked, but completely cold and untoasted, which I didn't. It was sturdy enough to  stand up to my tearing at the steak with my teeth without thumbs puncturing through the bottom, so a point for that, but I still found it doughy. The salad was adequate-- salad greens and a few slices of tomato. The condiments were a disappointment, partially due to the tepid temperature of the steak. The cheese was completely unmelted which reinforced how lukewarm the steak was. As for the tomato relish, I thought it was tomato sauce and only thought otherwise because it says so on the menu. An satisfactory amount of chips were provided, but they were served with tomato sauce alone, when I would have preferred aioli (which is available for other menu items). Finally, the surroundings were pleasant enough. We were seated indoors towards the back, next to a large window and a false garden. It would have been quite lovely, but they served us soapy bottles/glasses (not sure which it was, but we ended up having both switched) which left a bad taste in our mouth.

Observe the rigid cheese
As for other meals served at our table, the pumpkin risotto was huge and had a very good review; and the the "Wok of the Day" was supposed to be beef and mild chilli, but came out chicken and hot. Overall The Vic was hit and miss today. We'll probably be back as the location can't be beat, but will bypass the steak sanga next time, and just try the steak.

Steak: 1.5/5
Bread: 3/5
Salad: 3/5
Condiments: 2/5
Surroundings: 3/5

Steak Sanga Score: 12.5 / 25, 50%

Price: $19.90

The Vic on Urbanspoon

We also have a guest review today from my mate Finchie! He independently ordered the steak sanga, so I asked him to share a few notes.

Steak: 3.5/5
Colder than I would like and not very appetising. Was less cooked than it should have been.

Bread: 3.5/5
Bread was tasty but a little too thick for me which ruined the bread/filling ratio. Quite dusty too which made it messy

Salad: 3.5/5
Relatively standard salad, pretty light on as it was only really lettuce and tomato (and cheese) and I remove tomato

Condiments: 4/5
Liked the tomato relish, could have done with something to give it a bit more of a kick

Surroundings: 2/5
Soapy water on 2 occasions is not on. Also a middy of cider became a pint somehow. The venue itself was quite nice and the staff were nice

Total score: 16.5 / 25, 66%

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Local Shack, Scarborough - 52%

The Scarborough foreshore has been experiencing a revival of late. Peters by the Sea, Ocean One Bar and the Wild Fig have had the run of the place. New arrival The Local Shack is (hopefully) the vanguard of many new restaurants competing for the hearts and tastebuds of beachgoers, surfers and strollers. We came on this particular occasion to celebrate my old housemate's birthday with a large group of people that was easily catered for.

The Local Shack, like its CBD counterpart, has a variety of foods available, as long as you are after a burger, pizza or salad. Unusually, they have two steak sangas available: The Shack Steak, containing eye fillet, bacon, tasty cheese, salad and dijon mustard, and the Raging Bull, with eye fillet, brie cheese, egg, balsamic onion jam, salad, and herbed aioli. I felt for the sake of standardisation, I should have gotten the Shack Steak, my greed overcame me and I ended up going for the Raging Bull. Same price, so much extra cholesterol! I also ordered a side of chips ($4.50) and aioli ($1) and a beer (Coopers Pale Ale, $7) because greed knows no bounds.

The Raging Bull

The restaurant was cranking on a Friday night so I was pleasantly surprised when the burger came out quickly (within 15 minutes). From the initial angle, the burger looked excellent, though from another angle you could see that the stick was functional as well as decorative.

The Leaning Tower

The steak was excellent. I didn't get to choose its level of doneness but it was cooked perfectly medium rare and was an excellent cut. Thick and tender with no sinew to saw through, it was an absolute delight. By comparison the bread was an utter disappointment. It was a multigrain bread roll which failed to keep the juices in and squashed flat as I made my way through the sanga. By the end I was left with a thumbprint sized piece of bread on the bottom-- one of my pet hates. The salad was fair-- the variety of lettuce was good, but the single slice of tomato was not. The condiments which also held so much promise just didn't really work-- the egg and brie, which I love separately, did not bond well. They melded together in a mishmash of richness which the balsamic onion jam tried to round out, but couldn't.

In short, the steak was amazing; the sanga, less so. The Shack Steak might improve on the condiments but there were some fundamental issues with the bread and salad that can't be solved with bacon.

I liked the ambiance of the beach shack. It's good for a large group, or a small group, or any size in-between, for a casual meal after the beach or a simple night out. It's loud in there-- but it might just have been our group. The Local Shack is certainly worth visiting-- but I'd consider having an ordinary burger, or one of their pizzas instead.

Steak: 5 / 5
Bread: 1 / 5
Salad: 2 / 5
Condiments: 2 / 5
Surroundings: 3 / 5

Steak Sanga Score: 52%
Price: $17 (sanga only; chips extra)

The Local Shack on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Village Bar, Subiaco - 88%

It was so hot on Saturday, that the BBQ we had planned for a friend’s birthday could have been done with nothing but a frypan and the raw power of the sun. Instead, as the temperature rose towards 44*C, we dined in the air-conditioned comfort of The Village Bar in Subiaco. The restaurant was fairly empty for a Saturday lunch and we had an entire portion of the restaurant to ourselves. It might have been the heat, but The Village Bar is at a quieter end of the Subiaco strip so I suspect they don’t get a lot of drop-in traffic from nearby shopping. It’s a shame, as it’s a bright, classy sort of atmosphere and a perfect place to celebrate a friend’s birthday lunch.

The steak sanga was by far the most popular choice at the table. Approximately 50% of the table ordered it, which might be a testament to the appeal of the simplicity offered by: Steak Sandwich—200g Sirloin w Onion & Pepper Jam, Swiss Cheese, Romas, Chips & Aioli. I was chuffed to be able to order the steak rare to my specifications, but was the only one to take the option. Everyone else went the Trust-the-Chef route.
Steak Sanga and friends

The steak sanga came out on a plank with a generous serving of chips, and aioli. Two toasted slices of bread encased a tower of lettuce, tomato, cheese, a sizable chunk of steak, and onion jam on the top layer. It was very well constructed with the ingredients well distributed and nothing falling out over the course of the meal.

Close up of steak sanga

The steak was a generous slab of sirloin cooked to my specifications. Most bites came away cleanly, though some were a bit tougher and required some gnawing. I enjoyed that the steak wasn’t heavily seasoned which allowed the delicious flavour of the beef to come through. The bread was evenly toasted so that the crusts bit off as cleanly as the rest of the bread and were gentle on the soft palate. It was sturdy enough to hold the contents together until the very last bite. The salad was simple, but of good quality. There was enough tomato and lettuce in each bite to ensure that I didn’t feel like a complete carnivore, even while I gnawed the next bite of steak free. Nor was there so much that the integrity of the steak sanga was compromised. Understated, but much appreciated. The condiments were another high point of the steak sanga. Both the cheese and onion jam were spread over the entire steak sanga so there was a bit in every bite. I was especially impressed with the onion jam, which was just sweet enough to balance the richness of the steak and cheese. The chips and aioli were also excellent. The chips were large, generous, and crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Together with the garlicky aioli they were very moresome and I was disappointed that there wasn’t enough space in my belly at the end for all of them.

Everyone else at the table seemed well pleased with their sangas, and other assorted meals. I would love to come back to sample more of their drinks list (in particular the iced cocktails-on-a-stick which would have been a good choice that day!), and their meals—the steak in particular calls to me. It was a lovely place to while away an afternoon, though I hope for their sake that it gets busier at other times. Overall I really enjoyed this steak sanga. I have since found out that it won the prestigious “Steak Sandwich Award” in the Australian Hotels Association Awards for Excellence in 2011. Well deserved.

Steak: 4.5 / 5
Bread: 4 / 5
Salad: 4.5 / 5
Condiments: 5 / 5
Surroundings: 4 / 5

Steak Sanga Score: 88%

Price: $23.00

The Village Bar on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Leapfrog Cafe, Wanneroo - 50%

Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year! 2014 started for me with a trip down south and a steak sanga at Settlers Roadhouse not really worth mentioning.

2014 is the year my sister is circumnavigating the globe. On the first day of the year she is flying to Malaysia, then blazing a trail across South-East Asia, Japan, Europe and North America. Since I was away on the day she left, we caught up a few days prior for a game of minigolf at Wanneroo Botanical Gardens, and then joined our parents at Leapfrogs Cafe for dinner.

Leapfrogs Cafe have a good reputation for pizza, but once my eye fell upon the steak sanga, my course of action was clear.

The steak sanga looked promising when it came out. Toasted turkish bread was filled to the brim with grilled beef, lettuce, tomato, onion jam, swiss cheese and aioli.

The steak was sliced thinly and cooked unevenly, being medium in parts, medium-rare in others, and was chewy throughout. The bread was Turkish, and toasted, which I like, but failed at holding everything together. I found myself rotating and rotating again trying to keep the contents and juices contained, but by the end of the meal I was eating with a fork and dirty hands. The salad consisted of a lonely slice of iceberg lettuce and a substantial amount of tomato. The condiments were fairly good-- the onion jam was a good foil for the aioli and swiss cheese, however I feel that the aioli contributed to the overall sloppy texture, so have marked this down.

Unfortunately this steak sanga was underwhelming and I wished I had ordered a pizza instead because those looked delicious!

Although the steak sanga was a disappointment, we had a lovely time playing minigolf, and both venues are in the Entertainment Book with fairly good deals-- half price for the minigolf, and 25% off for the meal. Therefore, despite the low score, I would still recommend Wanneroo Botanic Minigolf and Leapfrogs Cafe for an outing-- just get the pizza.

It will be some time before I see my sister again, if you don't count selfies in front of monuments on Facebook. So, Bon Voyage, Jesse! Auf Wiedersehen!

Steak: 2 / 5
Bread: 2 / 5
Salad: 2 / 5
Condiments: 3 / 5
Surroundings: 3.5 / 5
Company: 5 / 5

Steak Sanga Score: 50%
Price: $23.00

Leapfrogs Cafe on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Food Store - Deli Cafe, West Perth - 80%

The Food Store on Hay St in West Perth is a very popular lunch destination for people working in the area. It is always a special treat to come here for lunch. Their delicious display contains fritters, tarts, and salads; and once, a sausage roll as big as my head. The lineup is so seductive that it took me some time to get around to indulging in one of their steak sangas.

On the menu, this steak sanga is billed as: Prime grilled steak on toasted sour dough with salad, spicy tomato relish, homemade aioli and chips.

The first visual of the sanga was striking.

A knife thrust into the heart. Maybe to ensure it was dead?

I had asked for rare and they promised "as rare as they could possibly make it". It was a generous slab of tender flavorful steak, all good apart from one fatty, gristly edge at the end. Wouldn't be a big deal, though I do like to save the best bite for last!

The bread was sourdough with grill marks from toasting. It was good quality bread and held together the contents and accumulated juices well. Though I don't love crusty toasted bread being used in a steak sanga. I find the crusty edges are relatively tough to get through and the sharp edges scrape the roof of the mouth. That is a personal thing; the other fellow who ordered the steak sanga quite liked the bread.

The salad was excellent with a varied selection of baby lettuce leaves and a few generous slices of a very flavorful tomato. The aioli and relish tied the entire thing together, and I loved the fact that we had both. The cheese was also a welcome surprise addition, because steak and cheese go together like sweet chilli and sour cream.

Altogether an enjoyable steak sanga experience. I really enjoyed it, though my mate who was also eating the sanga wasn't as enthused. He rated it about a 7, with the caveat that he doesn't love tomatoes. I personally enjoy tomatoes, so will rate this accordingly higher.

Steak: 4.5 / 5
Bread: 3.5 / 5
Salad: 4 / 5
Condiments: 5 / 5
Surroundings: 3 / 5

Steak Sanga Score: 80%
Price: $21.50

Food Store - Deli Cafe
1251 Hay St 
West Perth, WA 6005
Food Store - Deli Cafe on Urbanspoon 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Dome Cafe, Fremantle

I ended up at Dome Cafe in Fremantle after unwisely saying, "I don't care what we eat; whatever you want to get". We subsequently walked into, and out of, a Vietnamese shop, a Japanese shop, an Asian food hall, a bakery, a chocolateria, and an Italian shop. At each place I got too attached too quickly to a particular dish, and then was wrenched away from it. After the umpteenth trauma I may have gone a bit doolally from the hunger. Fortunately salvation was right across the road.

When a picky eater is looking for a specific "something" which can't be quantified by any measure but will just be known when it is seen, something utterly generic is probably going to suffice. Dome to the rescue.

Dome Steak Sanga

The steak sanga came out on a large slightly-toasted, non-Turkish bun, with well-cooked chips on the side. The steak was pounded flat and thoroughly cooked. It was fairly tender apart from one bit of gristle requiring some wrestling. The salad was stock-standard lettuce and tomato. There was a stand-out to this sanga though-- the relish. The capsicum relish cut through the steak and bread with a sweet acidity that tied the entire dish together.

When it comes to chain restaurants, you could most certainly do worse than Dome. Dome is actually a fairly special chain, as it originated and is based in Perth, Australia. From my experience, the food is rarely amazing or surprising or special... but it does always hit the spot. Particularly for fussy eaters.

Steak Sanga Score: An acceptable steak sanga.
Price: <$20

Dome Fremantle
13 South Terrace
WA 6160

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Grass Espresso Bar, West Perth

 Finding a venue for a spontaneous birthday lunch for Dr S was always going to be challenging on Melbourne Cup day, but Grass Espresso Bar came to our rescue. We don’t normally venture further east than the West Perth Food Court, so coming across this welcoming cafe was a happy surprise. The menu had many enticing options on the menu, but my fate was sealed as soon as I saw the GrassSteak Sanga.

Steak Sanga

There were a lot of things I enjoyed about Grass Espresso. The setting on Hay st was lovely. The service was excellent. The French-accented waiter was charming, and we weren’t left waiting too long for our meals to be served despite the business of the afternoon. The steak sanga came out ‘medium’ between two halves of a lightly toasted Turkish bun, embellished with a light salad. Chips, salad, and a cute little jar of tomato sauce accompanied. The size of the meal was impressive and I tucked in with relish.

Unfortunately the steak sanga didn’t live up to its promise. I thought the steak, a medium-cooked minute cut, was rather salty, though tender enough. The salad consisted of two lonely slices of tomato and two of capsicum, plus a few greens. There may have been a light dressing, but I didn’t taste it. A great steak sanga is juicy and is a naughty, messy, affair. This steak sanga was dry, and even a schmear of the provided tomato sauce on the last quarter didn't do much to perk the sanga up.

Half-eaten steak sanga

I really wanted to like my sanga, as I loved the venue, the setting, the chips I had on the side, and the service. Unfortunately, while they did follow the recipe for a steak sanga and all of the components were there, the whole didn't transcend the sum of the parts. I might be back, but not for the sanga.

Steak Sanga Score: Not the best steak sanga (but lovely chips). 
Price: $18, with chips and salad.

Grass Espresso Bar
1238 Hay Street
West Perth, WA, 6005