Monday, May 16, 2011

Vans Sidewalk Cafe


From the outside, Vans just looks like your better-than-average beach-side cafè, which just happens to be a bit busier than others most of the time. But it's definitely a cut above the rest - the $125 bottle of champagne on the wine list chalkboard kind of gives it away.

One of the things I like the most about Vans is their enormous menu on the left hand side of the room. It proudly displays their breakfast, lunch or dinner options, including Bloody Mary (virgin or loaded), Slow Cooked Tunisian Lamb Shoulder, and Duck Spring Rolls to name a few I was hungrily eyeing. On the right they've also got a seasonal specials menu, which lists a different special for every day of the week, Monday to Sunday. Another thing that is so aesthetically pleasing about Vans is that all of the chalkboards are written so neatly, complete with bold font, written on ruled lines (erased afterwards, of course) and all in the same handwriting. And yes, someone has told me before that I have issues.

And I just love the interior. It's a mix of blue ornaments, steel and jarrah. Throw in a couple of awesome star-shaped clocks, San Pellegrino bottles, lots of white and sunlight and you've got yourself a nice, beachy retro vibe with a hint of western-suburbness.

The service was impressive from start to finish. We were greeted by a waitress within seconds of entering, who magically conjured a table out of thin air in the middle of the room for us. About one minute later, a different waiter came to take our drink orders, which arrived very promptly after that. And so the good service continued. It was as if the whole waitstaff shared one brain, with tabs on what you'd ordered, where you'd been sitting and what was happening next. The girl at the counter asked if 'everything had been okay' during our breakfast, a rare find for cafès as busy as Vans.

Vans is definitely a Cottesloe institution. Cyclists - check. Mothers and young daughters having breakfast in designer wear - Check. Surfies - check. Attractive, healthy looking joggers ordering coffee - check. Pretentious middle aged lady who glares at food bloggers taking photos of the interior - unfortunately, check. The snapshot she photobombed was too scary for publication purposes.

My SLMXH topped up ($4.5) was sharp, bright and uber nutty, and such a joy to drink after living off UWA Guild coffee for the last few weeks. It came in a delightfully tall glass something like double the size of what you would normally get elsewhere, which meant it was also very strong. Just as well that I had work straight after this. Who would have thought, a long mac for good value in Cottesloe?

Michèl had the Hot Potato Cake with smoked salmon, poached free range egg, wilted spinach and lemon butter ($21) which was vegetarian, organic, gluten free, and damn good. The amount of smoked salmon on that thing looked absolutely mouth watering. The sexiest thing about this one - as soon as you touched the top of the egg with your knife, the poached egg split open and the bright-orange, free range yolk cascaded down the side of the stack of ingredients. The hot potato cake underneath was a super-sized hash brown which really hit the spot on a chilly, overcast Saturday morning. The sauce was perfect for tying it all together, a little lemony to combat the strong salmon taste but still rich and thick enough to be indulgent. I managed to scrounge a couple of delicious bites before the boy breathed it in. Which took about 3 minutes flat.

I opted for the Buttermilk Pancakes, vanilla pears, maple syrup, creme fraiche ($18). For the last month, I haven't really been able to eat gluten because of some health problems. And for someone who loves cake as much as I do, quite frankly, it's been like having a limb amputated. But I've slowly been re-introducing flour into my diet, and this dish was my sweet revenge for every gluten-free meal I'd eaten for the last month. That's right corn thins, bite me.

The best bit about these pancakes were the poached pears - the smooth sweetness of the vanilla, topped with the rich creme fraiche, an excellent combo. The pancakes themselves were pretty decent; fluffy, not too dense, but on the whole, nothing spectacular. Not too long ago I had the Grilled Peach Pancakes at Voyage in Sorrento with Amanda, so perhaps my expectations of this dish were simply too high to be satisfied. It was probably a combination of that and the lack of colour on the plate which meant I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed. But then again, who gives a shit? 


So now I've crossed off another one of those Places-I've-Always-Wanted-To-Visit-Since-Forever-Ago. That's what I love about being a food blogger: your dreams can come true up to three or four times a week, depending on how much you eat out. Being a writer for a food magazine and being paid to do it?

Now that would be the ultimate dream.   

Vans Sidewalk Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mandurian Adventures Part 3: The finale

 "When I wake up in the morning, love...

And the sunlight hurts my eyes...

And something without warning, love...

Bears heavy on my mind..."

...He was obviously talking about breakfast, right?

Room service is a beautiful thing. You wake up after a night of well-rested, feather-soft slumber, surrounded by your gloriously hotellish pillows and bedsheets, the sunlight streaming in from your window with a water view. Someone knocks on your door and gives you a divine-smelling breakfast made just for you, delivered to you. And when you're done, you can just dump the empty plates outside for them to deal with. It's the epitome of laziness, served hot and delicious on a white porcelain plate.

The room service at The Sebel actually comes from the adjoining restaurant, called 'M on the Point'. Mingi ordered the Eggs Royale ($17.5) which was poached eggs with smoked salmon and hollandaise sauce, a spin on the traditional Benedict. I think the pictures speak for themselves - it was absolutely glorious.

I went for the Croissant with Ham and Cheese ($11.5). A classic combo which never lets me down. There's just something about the way you can pull a toasted croissant apart - the buttery flakiness of it, the melted cheese and the soft texture of the croissant, all rolled into one. In my fourth year, when I go to Paris for exchange, I'm going to be eating something like this for breakfast every day. You just wait and see.

After our morning feast, me and Emerald decided to go for a stroll down the foreshore (Mama Hong opted for a sleep-in) to take in the sunshine and seabreeze. Everytime I've been to Mandurah the foreshore has been packed, with people all over the place walking, picnicking, fishing, jogging, playing with kids on the playground and what not. But on this morning, Mandurah just seemed so empty, which was wonderfully relaxing, and just what I needed before the chaos that is university.

Figure 1: "Why yes, I do eat constantly."

Figure 2: Large, freaky, beady-eyed birds that I'm pretty sure were plotting my downfall.

Figure 3: Lovely little deli on the main street, gorgeous collection of local gourmet produce.

At 10am, we kissed goodbye our lovely hotel room (which we left in a less-lovely state than it originally was) and checked out of The Sebel. Last (food) stop before our long drive home was a visit to the Miami Bakehouse, about one minute walking distance from our accomodation. Like everything else in Mandurah during our stay, it was completely empty, and we had the whole top floor to ourselves, with panoramic open-air views of the estuary and the little town of Mandurah. Em had the Pepper Steak Pie ($4.8) and Mingi had a Strawberry Flan ($4.5).

And guess what... I didn't take these two photos! I could cry with maternal pride, I taught you girls so well. One of the greatest pleasures in life is sharing your passion with others. 

My work here is done.

And so here ends the epic tale of Gee Hong, Em Wong and Bel-Ding-a-Dong's Mandurian Adventure 2011. Girls, I had an absolute ball with you two, chilling out, eating out, sleeping in and catching up. You are both so precious to me, and I hope we can do another trip mid year! You are my sunshines :)
"Friends are the most important ingredient in the recipe of life."

M on the Point on Urbanspoon