Monday, April 12, 2010

Review #15 - Zeps Cafe

Sunday April 11, 2010
Zeps Cafe
Campbell Town, Tasmania

We've been to the north of Tasmania, and we've had plenty of meals in the south, but this time we stopped in the middle to enjoy a lunch at Zeps in Campbell Town. I ordered a steak sandwich, while Julianne ordered...wait for it...a Caesar Salad.

I did manage to snap a pic of the Caesar Salad in question, so here it is:

How did it taste? As Julianne put it, "the egg and the bacon were really good. The rest of it...was of a bit...meh." So she gave it 2 out of 4.

The ingredients were a standard affair: no chicken, anchovies or croutons. The lettuce was a little old, and the cheese was cheap. Julianne had a nasty suspicion the "home-made" dressing had a lot of cream in it, leaving Julianne feeling a bit "blurgh". 1½ out of 3.

Presentation was "a little ho hum". It wasn't the most appealing of Caesar Salads, but we have seen worse. ½ out of 1.

So we've got "meh", "blurgh", and "ho hum" so far. Let's see if things can improve with our last two categories.

Julianne did give 1 out of 1 mark for service, so there's a plus. This despite the waitress, when asked if the dressing was gluten free, replying "No - it has egg in it."

At $13, it wasn't the best value for money ever, but it was still in the realm of decent, so 1 out of 1 for value.

That, unfortunately, leaves the Caesar Salad at Zeps tied for last on our score list with a score of 6 out of 10.

So a little disappointing there, but Campbell Town is still worth a stop over on your way north or south across Tasmania, especially for the lolly and ice cream shop that is quite accurately named A Little Piece of Heaven.

Score Summary
Taste: 2
Ingredients: 1.5
Presentation: 0.5
Service: 1
Value for Money: 1


Review #14 - The Stables

Sunday April 4, 2010
The Stables
Oatlands, Tasmania

'Twas Easter Sunday, and Julianne and I travelled to Oatlands for a family gathering. While we were there, we had lunch at The Stables.

No photo this time, so we'll get straight into the scoring for the Chicken Caesar Salad consumed by Julianne.

Firstly, as is traditional in these reviews, is taste.

Julianne: "My impressions were that it was very, very nice. It looked fantastic and it tasted fantastic. It was extremely tangy which, while it tasted nice, did strip some of the skin off my gum."

Despite the gum issues, Julianne did rate this as one of the top three tasting Caesar Salads she's had. A big call, and it would have been awarded full marks had it not been for the tang (which, we should point out, is entirely down to Julianne's well documented food issues, and not a reflection of the quality of the tang itself). 3½ out of 4.

Ingredients wise, this was a regular Chicken Caesar, without croutons. Once again, one small issue prevented full points here: the salad was advertised on the menu as having anchovies, yet there was no sign of the little critters in the dish. 2½ out of 3.

With the four chicken strips perched at the major compass points, the dish was well presented; the service was very friendly and accommodating to Julianne's "issues"; and at $10.50, the salad was great value for money. Top marks for each of these.

That gives us a total of 9 out of 10, and places the Chicken Caesar Salad at The Stables in a thoroughly deserved top four spot on our review score list.

Score Summary
Taste: 3.5
Ingredients: 2.5
Presentation: 1
Service: 1
Value for Money: 1



Review #13 - The Boulevard

Tuesday February 17, 2009
The Boulevard
Oxford Terrace, Christchurch, New Zealand

This review could quite easily be titled "From the vault" because, having done a couple of reviews in recent days (postings to follow), Julianne remembered that while we were holidaying in New Zealand in February last year she reviewed a Caesar Salad at The Boulevard, one of a number of restaurants along the Oxford Terrace strip beside the Avon River.

A search of Julianne's computer found the recording we made at the restaurant, as well as a couple of photos, so here, more than 12 months after the fact, is that review.

Firstly, the menu offered a gluten free Caesar Salad, meaning Julianne did not have to ask for the usual regular Caesar with the croutons left off - they were left off "automatically". A promising start.

The promise didn't last too long. I'll jump to the presentation score first. Here's how it looked:

Not particularly well presented one might say. I felt a bit sorry for the poor saggy egg. Julianne agreed with that assessment, awarding her first ever 0 (out of 1) for presentation.

Presentation isn't everything, though. We do give up to 4 points for taste. Julianne commented that the lettuce was a little watery but the rest was OK. Nothing special. 3 out of 4.

As for the ingredients, other than the lettuce (pictured below), everything was good so only half a mark was deducted, giving a score of 2½ out of 3.

On the value for money side of things, the meal faltered once again. It cost $5 extra to make the regular Caesar into a Chicken Caesar just for a couple of extra mouthfuls. That made the meal $22 all up, and with Julianne left feeling hungry afterwards, value for money scores a disappointing 0 out of 1.

On the up side, the service at The Boulevard was good, so Julianne awarded a full 1 point for that.

The final score of 6½ out of 10 reflects how disappointing the meal was, and unfortunately ranks this salad down at the lower end of our score list.

As an aside, I will say that Julianne and I did enjoy one of the best meals we have ever had while on our New Zealand trip. We both highly recommend The Kiln in Invercargill. Great food and great beer. Oh, and if you feel like pizza, Hell Pizza is fantastic, and they also make gluten free bases!

Score Summary
Taste: 3
Ingredients: 2.5
Service: 1
Value for Money:  



Friday, December 12, 2008

Review #12 - Sals on the Square

Friday December 12, 2008
Sals on the Square
Salamanca Square, Hobart

It's been a very long time between reviews, so for that reason, I knew I couldn't go past the Caesar Salad once I saw it on the menu.

We were taken out for lunch as a Christmas "thank you" by a project manager at work. He picked the venue and I knew it would be good as I've been there before and loved it.

A drum roll please.... this is quite a momentous occasion. I seem to have found the "perfect 10" Caesar Salad!!

I took a photo of the menu, but it was too blurry to include, so I'll transcribe it:
Caesar      $14.40
Roast bacon, croutons, shaved parmesan, anchovy, cos lettuce & a warm poached egg

The chicken was an optional extra for $2.

There was nothing to complain about. The service was excellent - the staff seemed to be truly concerned that we enjoy our meals which was a lovely experience. It was worth every cent - true value for money. It was beautifully presented as you can see...

The ingredients were all very high quality and tasted amazing. They didn't have gluten-free croutons, so there is no bonus point, but they didn't need the bonus point as I can't find anything to mark down. A full 10 points here!

Score Summary
Taste: 4
Ingredients: 3
Presentation: 1
Service: 1
Value for Money: 1


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Who would have thought?

Thursday April 10, 2008
Leo's Coffee Lounge Restaurant
Rosny Park, Tasmania

I'm still in a state of shock. Who would have thought it could happen so soon??

See those croutons??? They are GLUTEN-FREE croutons!! They DO exist!

Unfortunately, that's not my salad, so I can't provide a review. But Mum said it was very tasty, and I'm definitely going back there to give it a try. It was such a lovely surprise for her, because she'd asked for no croutons, but did mention that she was gluten intolerant. There was that moment of "Excuse me, that wasn't supposed to have croutons" followed by the delight of discovering that this place ROCKS!

Mum did say that the croutons could be improved by being oven-baked instead of toasted, but who cares? They are gluten-free!!

So, in anticipation of the review that is to come, I'm awarding Leo's Coffee Lounge Restaurant the bonus crouton point.

To quote Arnie...."I'll be back"

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Review #11 - The Pancake Parlour Restaurant

Monday March 17, 2008
The Pancake Parlour Restaurant
Bourke St Mall, Melbourne, Victoria

On another stupidly hot shopping day in Melbourne (we weren't trying to punish ourselves - we just visited in the middle of a heat wave) we were looking for a cool place to have a drink and some lunch and I remembered that we had both liked this place on a previous trip, and suggested it. We decided to give it a go. Obviously I couldn't get any pancakes, so I decided to have...surprise, surprise, the caesar salad!

This time I remembered to get a photo of the menu, but I think there was a fingerprint on the lens of the mobile phone's camera, because it came out very blurry.

Just in case you can't read that it actually says
Crumbed chicken pieces, a hard boiled free-range egg, crisp bacon bits served on a bed of cos lettuce with anchovy dressing and shaved parmesan cheese
Entree...$15.90 Main...$23.90

Obviously, the crumbed chicken pieces were going to be a bit of a problem. I asked if the chicken could be done without the crumbs due to my gluten intolerance, and was told that no, the chicken was pre-prepared with crumbs. The waitress said that she would go check, and when she came back she said it was possible to have the chicken sans crumbs.

Here is a photo of the salad:

As you can see, it is nicely presented, so I gave it full marks on presentation. I also scored it full marks for taste, as it was delicious.

Now we get to the tricky bits. I have given this one zero for value for money. Priced at $23.90 it was too expensive. While it was very tasty, I didn't feel that it deserved its price tag. I would consider paying that price for a salad the quality of Elaia's, but this one wasn't that good, and as far as quantity goes, it wasn't any bigger than any of the $15 salads I've had.

For ingredients, most were very good. The egg was boiled, but as it was advertised that way, I'm not deducting anything for that. What I am deducting half a mark for is the chicken. I suspect that the pre-prepared crumbed chicken had its crumbs washed off before cooking. There were some chicken pieces that looked like they had crumbs on them, which I cut off before eating them. For that reason, I'm also deducting half a mark for service. I would have preferred being told that the chicken was not an option for me rather than being left with the uneasy feeling that maybe I shouldn't be eating it.

In total, this salad scores 8 out of 10. Well done.

Score Summary
Taste: 4
Ingredients: 2.5
Presentation: 1
Service: 0.5
Value for Money: 


Review #10 - elfresco

Thursday March 13, 2008
Caesar Salad
Bentleigh, Victoria

It was the second day of our trip to Melbourne and we had ventured out (some would say kind of stupidly) on a shopping trip on a day with a forecast maximum of 39°C. To say it was hot is a little bit of an understatement. The trip involved a bus trip to the train station and two train trips, followed by a short walk from the station through Bentleigh.

After Jeremy had made his purchases, we ventured across the street to find a cold drink and a place to hide from the sun for a while. We found a little cafe that looked quiet-ish and friendly and found a nice breezy table by the window.

Being a Thursday, it was of course Caesar Salad Thursday! Plus, I am finding that sometimes I now purposely seek out caesar salads just so that I can blog about them. It's fun.

Since we were a little heat affected, we forgot about taking a photo of the menu, and we also didn't think to write down what it said, but there were two options available. A regular caesar salad, or a marinated chicken caesar salad. Since the marinated chicken didn't really sound like a good option for me, I chose the regular salad.

When Jeremy ordered for me, he asked for the standard "hold the croutons" and the owner very kindly offered to throw in some extra anchovies. Who am I to say no to that?!?

Overall, it was a very tasty salad. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

As far as scoring this one, we'll start with ingredients. Full marks here. All the important components were present and accounted for, and all were good quality. The poached egg in particular was fantastic.

I'm deducting a half mark for taste, because although nice, the dressing was too tangy and it had a tendency to overpower the other tastes.

I'm giving full marks for presentation, because as you can see from the photo, it was beautifully arranged.

For value for money, I deducted half a mark, because it was very small. I neglected to write down the price, but I seem to remember that it was over $15, which for such a small quantity is on the expensive side.

Last but not least, we get to service. Unfortunately there is another loss of half a mark here due to an unfortunate incident with my iced chocolate. Jeremy ordered a soy iced chocolate for me, and asked them to leave out the cream, but the lady that made it up missed the "soy" part of the order. It was a regular cow's milk drink. Lucky for me I realised on the first mouthful, and they very apologetically made up a soy drink for me instead.

So this one scores a very respectable and well deserved 8½ out of 10. Just a pity the service score let it down, because the salad really was delicious.

Score Summary
Taste: 3.5
Ingredients: 3
Presentation: 1
Service: 0.5
Value for Money: 0.5