Thursday, August 18, 2011

European Bier Cafe, CBD

This post is not predominantly about the food. That is because there are so many other things wrong with this establishment that to criticize its food would seem almost cruel.

To start off, the good things: convenient location and ambient furnishings.
Now onto the bad: slow or non-existent service, atrocious attitudes (especially from the bald guy), long periods of waiting time for food. All of which are tell-tale symptoms of inefficient staffing and ineffective management.

I first came here with a group of 5 others for dinner on a weeknight. We started off with drinks at the bar and also placed our food orders with the bartender. Ordering wasn't easy because we were about one of 3 groups vying for the attention of a single bartender amongst all the other patrons seated at the bar. Afterwards, we went back to our table and waited. We were looking forward to catching up with one another and initially did not notice that the food was taking its time to arrive. But the anxious turning of heads and glances occurring at the other tables made us realize that it had been almost 30 minutes and our entrees still had not arrived. We'd only ordered arancini balls and calamari. We waited for another 15 mins before flagging someone down and asking how much longer we would have to wait. In response, the bald guy huffed and puffed and begrudgingly spat out something about how the food was coming. No apologies, no explanations. Jeez, I'm so sorry we asked!

Eventually, the food did arrive, and we were so hungry that some of the guys took less time to finish it than we had spent waiting. We did not stay for dessert.

After this rather disappointing experience, I consulted with N as to when we should go to use our coupon purchase. After much deliberation, the two of us arrived for dinner one Monday night, thinking that it would a quiet night and we could receive our food in a reasonable amount of time. We were proven wrong.

This time, we'd booked ahead and requested a table for two. We arrived at the bar and was told by the bald guy (again) that he could not find our booking - we'd rung twice the week before. He spoke to someone on the phone and then told us to go upstairs. We arrived upstairs and the girl upstairs thought that we wanted a table for six. Then when we said we only wanted a table for two, she said the other tables were reserved and looked around confusedly. Surely the group of tables that she WAS going to offer us could be separated out to make a table for two. Anyway we spied two empty couches and asked to sit there - a bit strange to eat dinner off a stool but uh, sure.

We ordered our food and took our beers back to our couches. This time, I was mentally prepared for what we'd have to endure, and indeed, a similar amount of time lapsed before our meals arrived. During this time, we saw the table next to us receive their meal and finish and pay up. They left looking relieved - I can only imagine how long they had to wait for their food.

Another table near us was a group of 6 and in no particular order, 5 out of 6 meals arrived. The girl who did not receive her meal was seated at the end of the table and was clearly the most junior member of the group. Initially the group waited with her, until the girl profusely encouraged her colleagues to start without her. About 15 minutes later, she still had not received her meal, and some of the people at the table were almost halfway thru theirs. The situation was getting pretty embarrassing. Eventually when her meal finally arrived, I watched her scoff it down to catch up with the others. I'm guessing they probably had plans to return to the office after the meal.

Watching the other tables was truly depressing. European Bier Cafe has great potential. It's in a good location, surrounded by lots of potential regulars and is nicely fitted out to give the place a comfortable atmosphere. But sadly, its people are killing the business.

Ok so I will just mention the food very quickly. The parma's that we had on our first occasion were great and I liked how they had different choices of toppings. N's steak was edible but lukewarm when it arrived, worse still, my lamb was rather dry.

European Bier Cafe on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sunkee, Chapel Street

This place should be busy. It's hard to understand why it is not. Perhaps it doesn't fit the Chapel St image, because it definitely has far superior food to Oriental Tea House and that place is always filled with people in dark sunglasses and messy hair.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Budapest, Elsternwick

When Budapest first opened in my final year of high school, I used to walk past it everyday on my way to the bus stop. So when we saw it being featured on Scoopon, I jumped on it.

We arrived on a Sunday night for dinner and i was encouraged to see that the place was almost half-full. There seemed to be two other couples there with Scoopon vouchers, but the rest of the tables looked like locals/regulars. to start off the evening, we were welcomed with shots of apricot Palinka. It was strong, strong in a way that alcohol in the West never is. The taste reminded me of the 55% ABV Chinese baijiu such as Shui Jing Fang (another story for another time).

For starters, we ordered the sampling plate to share. Everything was quite intriguing to me and I loved trying out the new flavors.

The pickled cucumbers were sweet and refreshing and helped to ease the heaviness of the other offerings, including these deep fried camembert cheese balls which were so creamy and oozed with delicious goodness.

Having had sufficient food to absorb the Palinka, we were ready to tackle our bottle of wine.

For our mains, we both went with wildly inappropriate choices. In hindsight, maybe it wasn't such a great idea to goad each other into making those selections.

N's steak with liver was lovely except for the liver. The liver was cooked quite well, but it was liver and one can only stomach so much liver before one cannot bear to smell its scent for a second more. On the other hand, the cabbage was so addictive! I could not get enough of its tangy after taste!

My slampi was also quite an ambitious choice. It consisted off veal, turkey, and cheese, which is layered on top of each other, and then battered, and then fried. The slab of oily carb and protein is then topped with a generous dollop of sour cream and finally topped with shredded cheese. It had to be tried, but I don't think I will be so quick to come back for this beastly dish any time soon. Next time, a weiner schnitzel might be a safer choice for me.

Dessert was delightfully easier to finish and the crepes were thin and soft just how they should be.

Service was very friendly and the place was quite charming. Definitely somewhere I would revisit.

Budapest Restaurant and Palinka Bar on Urbanspoon