Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Garden, Leederville

After a long drive from my home town 3 hours away, and moving house the previous Thursday, S and I couldn't be bothered cooking dinner last night... Half the kitchen is still in boxes, we have forks and spoons, but no knives... too hard basket. The answer? The Garden, Leederville.

Ive been there before for drinks, but never ate anything before, and when we checked out the menu we were happy to see a tapas style selection, which were fans of. We were planning on going to Duende, but its shut on sundays...

At about 5:30 it was pretty busy, but we managed to snag a pretty decent spot on bar stools next to the restaurant. There were no menus or anything on the table so S went hunting for one and came back 5mins later. There were some nice things on there, and the headings were cool - Garden Deli, Small Things, Things in Bread, Pizza, Salady Things... It also had a wine list on the back, and a section on the food menu with their pitchers of cocktails made with Belvedere Vodka Fruit Macerations, all $35 - $45. We drove there so didnt get one, but the Pimms Pitcher appealed to us - Pimms, fresh lime, lemon, orange, cucumber, mint, dry ginger and lemonade. Yum. One for a hot saturday arvo. With a taxi home!

S went up to the bar and ordered (it sounds like he was doing all the work - he was. He owed me, I did all the leg work at the last place we went!), and we decided on the "garden variety of small things" and a pizza, topped with sausage, potato and rosemary ($20). He got himself a James Squire Sundowner Lager, and I started off with the Mazza Temperanillo from Donnybrook. Interestingly, the menu has prices for everything aside from the beer - which only shows the percentage of alcohol? Other things we liked on the menu were the Garden Farmhouse Cheeseboard ($30) with fig and pear relish, lavosh, green apple and a daily selection of cheeses, as well as mixed spiced nuts ($5), chorizo, piquillo pepper and fresh basil pizza, and the chicken, pancetta and ranch dressing pizza. The little nibbly things looked great - it turns out theyre all on the tasting plate so Ill talk about those soon!

We got a little garden bucket with a chalkboard on it, with our name on it and a table number, inside it held our napkins and cutlery as well as another menu. Was a cute touch, but sometimes I think it might be a bit difficult for the staff to see them? We liked it anyway!

We got the tasting plate first, with 4 little ramekins of goodness on a wooden board, and long bamboo skewers to eat with (fear not, there were knives and forks in the bucket!).

On it were (which can all also be ordered individually, for $10 each);
Braised meatballs w/spicy tomato relish
Brie & broccoli arancini w/ tomato chutney
Grilled chorizo, fresh parsley and lemon, and
Salt cod and potato croquettes w/ chipotle aioli.

Again, a little disclaimer - pics taken with my HTC Desire phone... not the greatest quality when its dark. Bear that in mind when looking at the pics of the food!

The meatballs were piled up, covered in a tomato sauce, with parmesan. They were pretty good, I had no real complaints about them. However I wouldnt order them, because I felt like they werent really special enough to order when going out. I tend to order things I wouldnt make at home, and these I just felt I could have made, easily. Nice, but nothing special.

The chorizo was exactly like it said on the packet. Slices, grilled, with a wedge of lemon. If you like chorizo you'll enjoy it! We found it to be really tasty chorizo, a little spicy and juicy. Some chorizo I find is just not as nice tasting as others. This was a good one.

The brie and brocolli arancini were good. Crumbed and fried balls of risotto always go down well when they're hot! Dipped in the tomato chutney, they were tasty morsels. You could really taste the brocolli. S, who doesnt really love brocolli OR cheese, had a bite and didn't mind them, which is a pretty good sign! They had a pretty creamy texture, as youd expect from both brie and risotto. I enjoyed them, and I ate most of them as S found other things he liked more!

Ive never had salt cod before, so mixed with potato in these little croquettes was a first for me. The flavour of the cod was very mild, S didnt even realise there was fish in it, and I could only just pick it up. A good thing to have for the transition from vegetarian to omnivore perhaps! The potato was creamy and soft, no lumps! The salt cod pieces were really small - like I said it had a really mild flavour so dont order it thinking its going to be really fishy. Again, I enjoyed them, and they actually gave me some inspiration to make them myself at some stage, but with salmon or tuna instead.

The pizza came out about 5mins after the tasting plate, and S got stuck straight in. The sausage on it wasnt sliced as I had expected, rather chunks of sausage meat, torn into bite sized pieces. The base was really nice, however we both felt that because of the chef being a bit heavy handed with the sauce and cheese, the base wasnt able to crisp up nicely. It was pretty cheesy, and it wasnt a really tasty cheese, so it was quite a heavy pizza. The hit of rosemary was a welcome respite from the bland cheese and the same sauce as what we'd gotten on the tasting place (there was a strong theme of tomato sauce/chutney/pizza base sauce which tended to taste very similar), as it gave a hit of flavour. In saying that, it wasnt a totally unpleasant pizza to eat - but it certainly wasnt the best Ive had, and it has the potential to be much nicer should the base improve.

We still felt a bit peckish, or maybe we just saw how nice the chips looked... so we went and ordered a serve of chips that we didnt need, but wanted. They came out after about 10minutes, and it was a huge serve! Considering they're $9.50 you would expect a decent size. We werent disappointed. They came in a metal colander, with a newspaper style lining. Cool presentation, however I cant help but think of the paper wasted, just for the purpose of a nice looking plate of chips. In any case, we couldnt finish them, and ended up heading off for a wander around the streets, followed by a stop at il gelato for some delicious lemon sorbet!

The vibe at the Garden is nice, I like it there. There are loads of tables all over the venue, it caters well to groups as well as only a couple of people. We found the music too load in some areas for a conversation which seemed weird as it was a sunday afternoon n theres no dance floor... We'll definately come back, as we didnt get to see the dinner menu (everything we ate was on the bar snacks menu - which is pretty extensive).

All in all an enjoyable experience, best enjoyed on a sunny afternoon with drinks and friends!

We went here again for drinks on saturday night at about 10pm after a meal at Kitsch Bar. It took 25mins to get served at the bar, and while waiting I decided that I was NOT going to go back to the bar for another drink, so I ordered a Belvedere Vodka jug, of the Starburst variety. It had Belvedere orange vodka, aperol, cranberry juice, grapefruit juice and soda water, with a squirt of lime juice, some oranges and lemon. It was pretty nice, but for $45 I kinda wanted more than 3 shots of vodka and one of Aperol.......... hmm.... We couldnt have a very good conversation, because the music from the Leederville Hotel next door was so loud. Im pretty sure that I wouldnt be heading back to the Garden on a saturday night, not really my style of place!

The Garden on Urbanspoon

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