A sucker for ambience.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hi all, hooray it’s Friday☺ How about a quick post to round off the week?

If you’ve been round my blog for a little while, you’ll have noticed I don’t often mention restaurants or do reviews so to speak. There are quite a few reasons – dining out is a bit of a luxury, and when we get a chance to do so, I like to relax and not have a running commentary inside my head judging each dish placed in front of me.

Plus, food is just so subjective, what suits my palate might be totally bleagh for others. In fact, I’ve sometimes left very highly touted establishments wondering what the fuss was all about and I often wonder if it’s because my palate isn’t refined enough, or maybe it craves too much drama from a lifetime of being exposed to spices?  Mostly, I’m just too shy to whip out the camera.

But on our recent holiday, the setting of a restaurant was just so pretty, I felt that I needed to share it with you. The food was pretty good too, but I think being surrounded by friends, happy self-entertaining kids and a touch of alcohol were what made the outing feel so special.

I think mostly the alcohol, because we were in a brewery after all. When in Rome…

I know the lighter one was  Whale Ale, but I can't remember what the darker one was. Mr. Kitchen Hand bought them and he's not here to quizz right now

If you’re on holiday and the weather is brilliant and you’re after a leisurely lunch, I’d suggest heading to Murray’s Brewery ( Murray’s Brewery and Port Stephens Winery. T. 02 4982 6411).

Here are some pics to explain why.


  Wagyu burger ($19.50)

Beer battered fish and chips ($22). The batter was exactly like crisp "goreng pisang" (banana fritter) batter. Very airy and crunchy!

 Roasted Kangaroo Fillet with Spanish Roasted Vegetables, Polenta “Chips” & Red Wine Jus ( $24.00). Sorry I ate skippy! This was my choice, and I though the polenta could have done with a touch more crisping and the vegetables were a little oversalted, but apart from that, it was very satisfying.

Kid's chicken nuggets and chips ($8.50). Look I know the little ones aren't the biggest priority for a lot of places, but I get quite bored of seeing the same old thing on kid's menus. I don't know what these tasted like but MC Junior ate a few of them.

Okay kid, if you don't like deep fried carbs, then have some baked carbs loaded with cheese instead. MC Senior pronounced her ham and pineapple pizz palatable, but chefs, if you're listening, some kids actually do eat vegetables and wouldn't mind a little bit more choice with their meals. Just saying. 

Never mind, I stopped caring about the kids meals after they took themselves off to this wide, shady glade next to the outdoor dining area to play. It was great, they were far enough away not to annoy other diners but still within our line of sight.

There are brewery tours at 2pm everyday, and you can listen to live music on Sunday. While we were there, a wedding party turned up , as well as a couple of busloads of daytrippers, so yes, it does get quite busy. The staff looked like they were pretty run off their feet but we still had friendly, mostly efficient service which is worth mentioning. (You have to order, pay and collect your meal at the counter, like a pub).

Speaking of ambience, on our last day in Port Stephens, the Skewer family ducked into Bistro Mix (13 Nelson Towers, 71a Victoria Parade, Nelson Bay NSW 2315. T/F: 4981 5665) for some brunch. I’d actually stumbled across it the day before when I headed into town to search for an internet café (and coffee!) in order to post about a certain food challenge.

Something about the shabby chic meets beachy cool ambience really appealed to me. Oh, and the awesome frappes. They come in either pineapple/mint or raspberry/mango, and are very, very good. They’re not cheap (sorry, memory a bit fuzzy, they were either $5.90 or $6.90 each), but chock full of real fruit and hey, we were on holidays and you only live once.

Pineapple mint frappe..mmmmmmmm

The rest of the dishes were standard café fare but done well, with a bit of style. The little touches, like the housemade tomato sauce, showed they cared ☺ And I dug that they made a bit of effort with the kids meals as well.

My steak sandwich (about $16 I think). It was a teeny bit under, and I usually prefer it a little less bleedy, but overall it was good. I know you're thinking I'm a carnivore but we actually don't eat much red meat at home, and the whole point for me when eating out is to order something I wouldn't cook for myself at home.

Mr. Kitchen Hand's BLT - look at that hunk of avocado! 

MC Senior's pasta napolitana. She loves pasta, so this was a hit. 

MC Junior's bacon and eggs. Cute butter "rose". Again, a bit low on the veges, but much, much nicer food. Plus, we were quite surprised at the white toast. It looks like your average soft, fluffy white bread right? We took a bite to discover dense, chewy, gutsy bread. Which we happen to like, so it impressed us.

Before I head off, here’s a couple of pics of the kids (again?! don’t worry, they’re tiny), having a run on the amazing Stockton sand dunes. We had a blast sandboarding on the dunes too, but I didn’t take many pics because I was too afraid of sand getting into the camera.

Happy weekend everyone!


Jennifurla said...

Looks fantastic all around

Trissa said...

Pooh. Your pictures are making me crave for a holiday. Thanks for sharing your pictures!

Vanille said...

Wish you a great week-end too, Shaz !
The pics of the dunes make me dream...

shaz said...

Jennifurla- thanks :)

Trissa - sigh, tell me about it, I wish I was still on holidays.

Vanille - the duens were just amazing, like some sort of desert scene.

Hungry Dog said...

Kangaroo fillet! You really DO live in Australia. I'm with you about reviewing restaurants...I like to relax when I go out and not get into the picture taking. Have a great weekend!!

Jamie said...

Wow what fun! And all that food looks so yummy, even skippy (which I would be curious to try).

Serene said...

I'm with you; I don't usually take photos in restaurants, or blog restaurant reviews, but thanks for this post.

(Re: kids' meals, I would usually ask for a half-portion of an adult meal for my kids, or share mine with them, because of the same thing you've found -- restaurateurs are kind of unimaginative where kids' food is concerned.)

shaz said...

Cheers everyone,

Great tip Serene! Must keep that in mind next time.