Mission: To respond thoughtfully and responsibly to my experiences of drinking and dining at restaurants with regard to the quality, service, preparation, presentation and overall experience received thereat. The standpoint is one who respects the crafts of the chef and sommelier and who seeks to understand their choices in the kitchen and cellar and grow in knowledge. In this, I will seek to be fair, reasoned, direct and constructive and aim to keep my ego in check on our mutual journeys through the worlds of food and wine.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Osteria RealBlue - Stunning Food!

Massive shout out for the Osteria RealBlue at the Publika. Was a bit difficult to find (everything is difficult to find at Publika - very confusing shopping mall and car parking) but a total delight. We had been there about two years previously with the Amante food group and had an okay time. The chef is Italian and met his wife Sherrie (born in PJ) when she had relocated to his home town in Bologna. The Osteria has had many good word of mouth reports, so it was long overdue a revisit.

Lenglui, the good Dcotor and I sharad the fried Burata with Ham scraps and Saute Mushroom as starters. The Burata was beautiful melt in the mouth salty sweetness which gained some further salt from the ham. The combo was fabulous - gooey and salt explosive. The Saute Mushrooms came in a lightly peppered cream sauce and plated with thyme and oyster sauce (I think). A perfect blend of soft firm texture and tantalizing taste. Simple food prepared excellently well.

Second up was the Ravioli. This was fabulous, melt in the mouth chunks of pumpkin mix wrapped in firm freshly made pasta and doused rather than dusted with parmesan cheese. The cheese stuck to the pasta and gave it a crusted texture to bite through into the ravioli and was a total delight. Sinful maybe, but well worth any penance due.

And then on to the T Bone with side salad. A large chunk of beef perfectly cooked and having that perfect mix of char on the outside and medium rare lean beef on the inside. I have not had a piece of steak like this for a long time. One of those tastes for the ages. Osteria say give them some notice if youwant the beef so it can be brought to room temperature before grilling over the charcoal. Paired with a Fontodi 2007 Chianti - drinking nicely, still a little time left in the bottle, firm structure and body with full black cherry fruit, spicy notes and chewy tannins made an excellent partner for this king of the steaks. The Fontodi also paired nicely with all the other dishes, though more as a tongue and salt cleanser rather than matching the food. I found the salad a bit on the sweet side for some reason, though it didn't detract from the overall ensemble and added coleslaw crisp texture to underpin the meat. Didn't see the bill, the good Doctor paid. He didn't squeal. But then he never does.

Definitely going back to the Osteria. Total no brainer.  

Monday, January 21, 2013

Ben's Restaurant Publika - excellent burger!!

Ben's Restaurant Publika Jan 20th 2013 lunch

We've been patronising Ben's Restaurants for a couple of months now. Food quality and preparation is generally of standard and a fair value proposition for the prices being charged. 

Ben seems to have a knack for developing tasty nutritious dishes with high quality ingredients and which don;t feel like too much of a burden on the credit card. They do a fair seleciton on their wines as well.

I had the Fisherman's Catch on Friday evening at the KLCC outlet and tried the Cheeseburger at Sunday lunch. 

The Fishermans Catch was… forgettable. It was nice and all, just not a dish that made you go "wow". Will try the standard fish and chips next time. Lenglui had the usually excellent Steak Sandwich and yet again it did not disappoint. Full meat, well seared and high quality chunk of Angus beef. 

The burger was excellent, succulent meat and well cooked on a soft but firm bun with great tasting cheese and just a hint of spicy tomato sauce. The fries were a bit wooden on this occasion, though they have been delightful light and wispy crunches in the past. Maybe the burger could have been a bit larger - I could get both hadns and mouth around the thing. Normal burgers elsewhere don;t allow for this. Notwithstanding, ten out of ten on the burger. Definitely one to return for.

Lenglui had the quiche. Pastry base was very tough to cut - overbaked and well wooded. Though the quiche was good - fluffy yet firm with lots of filling. Wouldn't buy it again, though - not with a base like that. How to trust?

Iketeru KL Hilton - disappointing, lousy car park experience.

Iketeru is a favourite destination of ours. We like the modern lighting and decor, and its lots of little alcoves for private dining and a usually excellent quality of menu. Steak on previous occasions had been wonderful. Usually.

We like to sit at the teppankayi counter and watch the chefs work their magic. They were a bit quiet today - in retrospect, should maybe have taken this as an ominous portent. Not busy can often mean the place is out of favour. And so it proved, with the lunch being a bit short on standard on this occasion. We ordered the set Sashimi plus Teppanyaki Beef and Special Tempura Prawn lunches. 

My salad came out dripping with cloyingly sweet thousand island or something, though the miso was hot and saltily invigorating. Maybe that was the plan - give sweet followed by salty. Sashimi was three chunks of salmon, and two of the whitefish and octopus leg respectively. No tuna. Hmmmm…  We tend to expect some tuna in sashimi servings. First time we'd ever had sashimi sans tuna. Hmmm....  

The tempura prawn in special soy sauce  - whilst the texture of the prawn was terrific, the batter was squishy and…  just bleughh. There was little crunch, and mostly egg and flour on the tongue. It was like sucking on KFC batter that had been dipped in hot water -  all limp and squidgy. Tastewise was interesting enough, with egg and salt on the tongue, but the texture was hardly tempura. The egg custard was light and clean. 

I tried the beef. It was okay, but seemed to miss the standard of previous visits. It was cold when it came out and colder when I tried it. Meat quality was fine enough, maybe that little bit of care and love in the preparation seemed to be missing. 

Bit of a shock when the Green Tea came out at RM9 per person - I seem to recall it used to be gratis. 

Service was sufficiently friendly and unobtrusive, though on this showing there's way better Japanese to be had elsewhere n the city, most notably at Kame Sushi in Sri Hartamas. If we are paying Hilton prices, we can surely expect Hilton standard. Didn't seem to hit it on this occasion.

Yet again the Hilton/Meridien car park failed, with the machine eating my ticket and failing to let us out at the barrier. We picked a time when our car parking attendants went off for a pee break. This is about the fourth time in a row that this car park has given me a problem.  Probably the central reason I will not return to Iketeru for a while. Maybe the hotel renovation currently underway will do something about what is possibly some of the worst hotel parking experience in the city.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A very good evening at the Vintry

Got a late call from Uncle Yap demanding we come and eat the big pork and beef at the Vintry in Jaya 33. Okaylah, we say. They were having a wine sale there and so we figured we could all eat and drink at fair value. 

On entering, the place was buzzing. Tables were full, food was being consumed, and a lot of wine was getting chugged. Business is booming, always a good sign. 

And the food was of good to very good standard all the way through. Starter of Siew Yoke with deep fried cheese frittters and fried mushroom went a treat with the slightly sweet and ageing yet beautifully elegant and structured Villa Maria SB 2009. It also went nicely with the 60 Drops 2011 SB, though in a more racier way. 60 lacked the elegance of Maria, but both offering great value at 20% discount. 

We stuck with the white for the lamb chops which were rich and juicy and not overcooked. Lightly peppered and coming out hot they were magnificent. Roast potatoes a bit firm, but a small detail.

The Roast Beef was the king of the night, again coming out hot and juicy with mash and coleslaw to firm up the mouth for the meat. Again, lightly peppered and medium well done, it made for a hearty meal for the masses. Paired with a 2007 Chateau de Something from St Julien which was on 25% discount at RM150. Drinking well, restrained blackcurrant with smooth tannins and firm finish, it was a good match for the beef. Not sure there's much age left in the bottle, though. The table certainly enjoyed the choice.

Staff were pleasant but a bit slow, mainly due to the crowds and being unable to keep up with everyone. They decanted our red which was nice and brought out the good bordeaux glasses. Total bill came out at RM160 each for six people. Have paid far more for much less. Add to that a lot of laughter from some most excellent company, it became a very good evening indeed.