September 22, 2012

Western Spices...@ Green Hall

It was an impromptu visit to Western Spices as the restaurant we had wanted to visit was not accessible (road closed). This premise used to house Spice & Rice then Straits Kitchen Restaurant and now Western Spices
As we stepped into the restaurant, the first thing I did was check to see if I am appropriately dressed. The interior was not all chandeliers but it exudes a kind of classy look.  The chairs had drapes of brown and beige right to the ground level. Never mind that we were not properly attired (there was no dress code); all the same the waiter/waitress were courteous. A waiter handed us the menus. There are lamb, chicken, beef, fish, duck and pasta.   I noticed there are even vegetarian dishes listed.
 After browsing through, both of us opted for the set-dinner.  It was a five-course set. 
A plate of nachos with homemade salsa was the starter.  I forgot to ask if the nachos were homemade.  It tasted like packet ones but both of us enjoyed the crunchy bites just as well, dipped in the delightful salsa. 
Next was a bowl of yellow coloured soup.  I loved the presentation of the soup with the cream on top. The yellow colour and creamy taste had both of us actually saying the same thing...pumpkin soup on our first mouthful. A second mouthful had me wondering. A check with the waiter told us that it was potato and onion soup.  A good combination, the soup was delicious.
The plate of Stinco di Agnello-RM68.90 (2 hours oven braised lamb shank served with vegetables and mashed potato) that arrived soon after we finished our soup looked mouth watering.  True to its looks, that piece of lamb shank was tantalizing.  It lifted easily off the bone, was tender and juicy with a homemade sauce fragrant with herbs. I noticed that the chef used many kinds of herbs in his cooking.
The plate of Grilled Salmon fillet (RM59.90) came served with homemade tomato sauce, mashed potato and vegetables.  The fillet came well seasoned, not over grilled and fresh.  Dipping a cut piece into the homemade sauce was divine.  There was also something different and extra.  Another pleasing addition was a piece of crispy salmon skin.  
Sean Ooi--performs on Tuesdays
There are also live performances on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays.  That sets for a very nice dining ambience.
A slice of cake arrived as dessert. I would say a generous slice considering that it was a set meal. I paid little attention to the taste of the cake. (The pianist was playing beautiful songs and I was engrossed with the music.)  All I remembered was it was a pillowy mousse cake. It must have been nice or I/we would have complained.  
If you like food that is European, Italian, Steakhouse, British. etc...then visit WESTERN SPICES, No. 1 Green Hall, 10200 Penang. Tel: 04-2611 553. H/P No: 012-7903318/0127993318. Person/s to contact: Nick Lau/Ally Tan Business Hours: 11:30 am-11:00pm.  High Tea time: 3:00pm-5:30 pm.
**6% Government Service Tax & 5% Service Charge. 

September 11, 2012

Bella Marino @ Straits Quay

Bella Marino Ristorante & of the many restaurants found in Straits Quay.  The restaurant looked neat and it had a Christmas theme (so I thought) being done up in the colours of the flag of Italy. I was not the only one with that thought as a young boy behind me started singing 'Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells', as he followed us into the restaurant with his parents. His sister sang 'We wish you a Merry Christmas'. I had to stifle a laugh. They both sounded so cute.
The first thing I ranted when we were seated was how close the tables were placed. I think we would have knocked elbows had there been other diners at the next table.  
Bella Marino serves Italian food as informed by the staff.  The menu has Bruschetta, Frittura D calamari (squid fritters), Pasta, and Risotto, fish, and meat and poultry dishes. Pizzas are also available.
We settled for the Set Meal after browsing through the menu.  The Spigola Croccanti Fritti Ana Puttanesca (Crispy friend marinated whole Sea Bass Puttanesca style-RM65)) was not available as in finished.  Therefore, we both ordered the same...Spalla D'Agnello Arrosto (sliced marinated roast lamb shoulder served with BBQ sauce (RM49.90).  Both of us enjoyed the pumpkin soup.  It was thick (not runny) and rich with cream.
The plate of sliced roast lamb shoulder arrived and had a good aroma.  As I put a piece of the lamb with some BBQ sauce, I thought it tasted similar to a few other places that served Western style food.  Was it not supposed to be Italian food? Anyway, we enjoyed the lamb.  It was tasty and tender. The gravy had a generous supply of sliced mushrooms, full with flavour and not too peppery. A big blob of mashed potato was 'hidden' under the pieces of lamb.  The only disappointment with the lamb was there was too much fat. By the time I finished the plate of meat, there was a heap of fats by the side. I would say it was equal amount of fats and meat. Even hubby lamented that the lamb had too much fat (even though he had always love his lamb with fats).
For dessert, we were served each a slice of tiramisu. The sight of the slice made me salivate. I love tiramisu.  It was quite good.  It melted in my mouth. However, I could not detect the ladyfingers. It was only when we turned a little of the cake over did we noticed the paper-thin layer of ladyfinger.  That did not make me happy.  In addition, the rum and espresso was not there (maybe the cocoa powder overpowered the amount used).  It came with the set meal so we thought that we should not expect too much. 
We decided to indulge a little more by ordering a helping of Panna Cotta (RM10.90).  The Panna Cotta was below my expectation.  It was too hard though it was creamy.  The generous portion of the lingonberry confiture (I think it was lingonberry) sort of made up for the texture of this dessert. 
The coffee ended our meal on a happier note.  It was a good cup of Tonino Lamborghini. The Set Meal for the above (minus the panna cotta) cost us RM49.90/pax.