Salmon and Rump

Ribs and Rumps
Northland Shopping Centre, 50 Murray Road Preston

That Thursday night we were looking for a feed, because neither one of us wanted to cook, plain and simple. We ventured out to Preston, in particular Northland shopping centre, because we had discovered that

a) There were a whole lot of seemingly new restaurants situated on the walkway leading into the centre, and we thought we should give one of them a try, and
b) The thought of shopping after you’ve eaten and just wandering about on a weeknight, just feels like you’re living on the edge. You can tell we’re parents.

So off we went, and soon after arriving outside the centre Hubbie got intrigued with the door menu for Ribs and Rumps. We went into the large room asking for a table, but the very sweet waitress informed us as we had not booked, and they were currently very busy with their other patrons, that we would have to wait to be called back in 15 minutes. She was exceptionally kind and sweet, it was hard not to smile and walk off happily, with a wait and all. Besides, it meant we did the window shopping before, not after.

Spot on 15 minutes later, and I received a phone call from them telling us they now had a spot. We went in to a table with a high chair, and baby girl promptly received a little colouring book with crayons. Aha! TGI-style. Tick, regardless of the establishment. Yes they ended up on the floor more often than in her hand scribbling, but the entertainment factor is all that matters.

Ribs and Rumps is essentially a large, warehouse-type room, with coloured rope ends hanging from one side of the room, and great big ufo-style lights suspended from above.

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It had some character, it was loud, and it could certainly house a few people alright. It was the school holidays, which is perhaps why it was so busy… but then again it was a Thursday night, and with the centre open later, and the nearby cinemas upstairs, it’s probably a place that’s always rocking just a bit at the very least. There was an open view into the cooking station on one side, and every so often a sky-high burst of flames would rise up only to be diminished by whatever was cooking there. It looked a sight.

The loud sights and sounds suited us just fine. We love the loud atmospheres, keeps us at ease when baby girl inadvertently vocalises her displeasure with something – usually from being seated for too long. She was good that night, thankfully.

We shortly after ordered drinks – wine and beer – however they took a little long getting to our table. Again, they were probably busy that’s why.

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Soon after that when no one came to take our orders, we flagged down the first waiter we saw and he came over. This was a place where you had to be a bit proactive, and fight for your right to get your order taken against the hundred others doing the same.

A while later our meals came:

Baby girl got the chicken schnitzel with vegetables – that means carrots

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I got the King Salmon – cooked to your ‘liking’ and served with steamed golden rice and an oven-dried tomato coulis

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While Hubbie got the Grain-fed MSA rump – from the Riverina region in NSW, with a marble score of 2+ – served with chips and an additional Greek side salad.

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Ho ho ho, I feel like Santa. Boy do I have a review and a half here.

First things first. Bay girl’s meal. The menu prices this meal of chicken schnitzel at $15. In fact all kids meals are $15, bar the pricier pork ribs at $17. At first glance you go ‘what the?’ but then you discover that kids receive bottomless soft drink and two scoops of ice cream. Ok that sounds good.

Next: the sides. All kids meals come with either chips, a baby garden salad or vegetables. So you can only pick one of the three: chips, a baby salad – which I admit is a considerable serve for a child – or vegetables, and this one is misleading because I ordered thinking ‘great, healthy veg’ when the waiter then asked me “carrots or beans?”

I think you guys should do both.

We, in this circumstance, chose the honey carrots. Which is why her plate looked fairly plain, on top of the fact that it was served on a large plate, which the waitress admitted to when she came with our food, saying they had run out of small plates. Fine. Whatever.

I get the $15 pricetag, I guess I just wish someone had made me more aware of the bonus options (like the ice cream) when I ordered, so that baby girl had had the option to have some, since we paid for it and all, instead of just going home straight after.

Onto my meal. I will begin by saying I don’t think I will ever order salmon again in a restaurant, but I add that I don’t think it’s the fault of the salmon, or the chefs, or the restaurants. I love salmon, in fact I have had it three times already in the last 24 hours in the writing of this review. But I like it when I cook it.

I had an interesting discussion with the waiter upon ordering. When I told him how I wanted the salmon cooked, I was actually finding it hard to describe what I was after, and that’s me, I know, but I did say I didn’t want any raw parts. I wanted it cooked. It didn’t have to be well-done, but I wanted it cooked through, no jelly please.

“What if I put down chef’s choice, that’s what we put down when the customer doesn’t mind.”

??? I had just told him I minded, how could me saying “cooked through” mean ‘I don’t mind!’

And by the way, we all know how chefs like to cook things, I’ve seen them plate up salmon on My Kitchen Rules – if it ain’t raw in the middle, they consider it a waste. I just can’t eat my salmon like that though, food blogger and all.

“As long as it’s cooked through, no raw bits,” I reiterated.

And what did I get?

A lovely cooked salmon on the outside… jelly in the middle.

I picked at it as much as I could, without actually eating any of the rawer meat in the middle. I ate my rice, the side salad I also got, dabbed the salmon into a bit of the sauce too… and as much as I enjoyed the cooked bits, I still had a really upset tummy 30 minutes later. I just can’t do it. I can’t do salmon not cooked through, because even on previous occasions in other restaurants, I’ve had slightly undercooked salmon, avoided the ‘jelly,’ and still been ill. I can’t do it.

A note to your waiters. Listen to the customer, and don’t push ‘chef’s special’ like some know-it-all. Because the paying customer might just go home sick.

(I’m not saying their salmon made me sick. I’m saying every undercooked salmon makes me temporarily ill).

Hubbie’s steak. Now this is a mystery. He enjoyed his meal he did, and he ordered the baby Greek salad on the side, which for $3 is a very decent serve and price in amongst the other menu offerings. He enjoyed it, and it was cooked to his liking (medium) and even I enjoyed the taste of it too…. But he doesn’t believe it was char-grilled.

“What? You can see the fire rising up over there!” I said to him.

“Nup. They’re tricking us. I know char-grill.”

And this is why all chefs should run out of their own kitchens screaming when a butcher enters the premises.

I’ve perused the website, and immediately in the steaks section I see ‘char-grilled’ in many places. So don’t listen to Hubbie. Maybe the way they char-grill, is different to the char-grill he’s experienced at other restaurants. I don’t know. I did suggest that maybe the steaks are already cooked, and then put on the grill as they’re ordered, but that is an utterly ridiculous thought, and would be way too confusing in the kitchen. So let’s go with the thought that they char-grill, and Hubbie is way fussy. It was enjoyable nonetheless, and he ate all 380 grams of it, saying it was juicy and tender.

After we finished and my stomach started churning, we quickly up and left.

Food: 6.5/10. This takes into consideration the jelly-middle salmon, and the appearances lacking in most of the meals. I liked the board my meal came out on, however there was a big space left in the middle while the components were placed around the sides. I kind of get why they probably did this, but it still looked bare.

Coffee: N/A. I’m always a tad iffy at the thought of trying a coffee at a steak place, or fish and chop joint, or a chicken shop… the thought of all those meat scents infiltrating the coffee beans just doesn’t seem right. However if I were to lunch here again, I may just be curious enough to go down that path.

Ambience: Bustling and loud. Great place to be with your child amidst other shouting voices.

People: All kinds were there on that night. Kids, families, couples, groups of older men eager to cut into some manly meat, even a sweet Japanese family spanning 3 generations, quietly picking at and sitting around a tray of ribs in the middle of the table.

Staff: The girl who initially seated us was sweet as pie, really eager to please. It made me think ‘gee, they’ve had some bad reviews.’ Just looking at how fast they moved and how quick they responded when you flagged them over, gave me further proof of that. It wasn’t just doing their job, it was proving something to someone. Our waiter was ok, he said all the right things, but I just wished he hadn’t influenced the chef’s choice for the salmon on me. I’ll need to toughen up for next time. The girl who brought our bill over was exceptionally sweet to baby girl, so really it was a mixed bag.

Price: $94 for the lot. 3 meals, a baby salad, and 2 drinks. I think considering our experience, it’s a tad steep considering the area. Hubbie loves sauce, yet considered the additional $3 (for sauce) ridiculous. The overall price would have been somewhat acceptable if the food quality had matched the set prices.

Advice: Be firm with your choices, and be aware of what you get if ordering a kids meal (and make sure you get it).
Also, their page on Zomato says ‘Reservation Recommended.’ Along with our experience, I can attest to that.

In a nutshell: Look, I would go back. I wouldn’t drive out of my way there to eat, but I wouldn’t mind going back if let’s say I was at the centre and was hungry. The menu options are fairly wide, it’s a good noisy environment for kids, and also, I think this place is still finding their feet. I’m also diplomatic enough to realise this was just one experience, and there was nothing solely horrific to keep me from going back. So I probably will, I’ll just order a steak next time.

Ribs and Rumps Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Twisted Lyrics #3

I first loved them with their classic 80s rock ballad, ‘Is This Love?’

Then I loved them more when I got right into the 80s rock, very, very late into the naughties. (“We’re not gonna take it! No, we ain’t gonna take it!”/”She’s only 17″/”I see my Maryanne walking away, awaaaayyyyy….”)

And so I thought Whitesnake were being all political and pushing gender issues when I sang along with them –

“Here I go again on my own” (guitar riff)

“Going down the only road I’ve ever known” (guitar riff)

“Like a sister I was meant to walk alone.”

Ahem, yep, a sister, walking alone. Sure, all-male 80s rock bands loved pushing the problem of the female equality gap.

Wrong.

“Here I go again on my own” (guitar riff)

“Going down the only road I’ve ever known” (guitar riff)

“Like a drifter I was meant to walk alone.”

Huh. Of course, drifters walked alone.

‘Here I go again on my own’ (guitar riff)

‘Imparting basic songs with meaning – like a drone.’

GUITAR RIFF.

Toyboxes and Happiness Beans

Bean Counter Café
15 Railway Place Fairfield

That Wednesday lunch was catch-up for me, baby girl and bestie, once again in Fairfield. I had wanted to go there because of the kid-friendly tags associated with the café positioned off the main road, and with mentions of books and toys, (and change table – hey you need to be prepared) I thought it would be a pleasing experience for all.

Bean Counter Café is positioned on the corner of a leafy tree-lined suburban street, opposite Fairfield train station, with seating both out the front and inside, as well as further seating out the back of the café, which I was to learn about later. It is a cool and cosy place, with a bit of Fairfield funk. Bestie already had a table inside the cafe right by the door, and with the addition of high chair we were all set.

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The woman making coffees and our waiter serving us were both immediately very friendly to baby girl and us adults, making me surer of our decision to go there. The worst thing is going to a place where you feel your child will be despised for their excited squeals, but here it seemed they were almost expecting it.

We ordered fairly soon after, and I was impressed when without mentioning it, our waiter asked me if I wanted baby girl’s toastie delivered earlier before our lunches. This guy knows. Tick.

Her H.C.T Toastie – Ham Cheese and Tomato toasted sandwich came fairly early.

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She ate most of it in dribs and drabs, as toddlers do, eating a lot, and then none, and then slowly having more in distracted moments while I put it in her mouth.

A fair wait later, we received our meals.

I had the Zucchini Corn and Haloumi Fritters – topped with blanched spinach, fresh avocado, a poached egg and finished with tomato salsa

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And bestie had the Smashed Avocado and Feta – two slices of sourdough toast with avocado mash and sprinkled with feta, topped with sunflower pumpkin and linseeds, served with grilled cherry tomatoes and asparagus

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Now, both our lunches were from the brekkie menu, which we had learned was available all day – tick. However I felt (and bestie even agreed) that it took a tad long to receive our meals… granted it was the school holidays, however we had ordered about 1pm, what you would imagine to be after the lunchtime rush, and though there were
people about it wasn’t really packed.

However, despite the wait, the food was delicious. I omitted avocado for mine because my stomach sadly does not do avocado anymore. My poached egg was done so perfectly and oozing the yellow yolk, the fritters were flavoursome, and the salsa gave it that much needed kick to complement the other earthier flavours. The presentation was amazing, and all in all I loved it.

I know bestie loved hers, as she often frequents the place with her hubbie. Tick.

Soon after we decided to get some coffees and a babycino of course.

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What I loved about the babycino we received was it came in a kind of rubber-type of cup, and I imagine the people who own this place know kids can throw things, which kind of horrifies me to think they’ve had cups of frothed milk flung far and wide from across the café, but having a toddler, I should know better and accept it as a reality. My hand continuously hovers above hers as she gulps it down. All was delicious, however the coffee drinking was halted when the lady making coffees saw baby girl starting to get impatient with us slow-drinking coffee girls, and suggested the back area for baby girl to play with. What? There was a kids ‘area?’ All I had seen thus far was a little corner by the front door that had worn out books and scribbly things, alongside brand new packets of mini colouring books that you could buy brand new (clever people). She helped us move outside, and it was here that I went ‘ahhh, this is where the kid-friendly tag comes from.’

Cafes can sport change tables, and waiters who know how to talk to your baby, and coffee making like-minded Mums who also have a toddler just younger than yours, but when a café has this

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It REALLY is a kid-friendly café.

That chair actually opened up to an empty space underneath, which I’m sure is where the toys strewn out alongside it on the table usually live when visiting children haven’t unearthed the contents. Baby girl happily joined in with some big kids in the toy excavation hunt, while bestie and I chatted away.

It’s a great outdoor area. It was a tad cold on that day, and even though it’s covered out there the wind still got its hooks into all of us. Coffee lady had turned on the nearby heater, though with the icy wind it didn’t do much, and suggested we use the handy throws they have on supply.

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Great idea.

It’s a beautiful space, probably much more enjoyable on a warmer day. There’s a small water fountain against the wall, cute mosaic tables and chairs, and a quote about coffee, and let’s face it who can have too much coffee quotes? Not me.

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Once baby girl had had enough of running around out there (defined by me who knows her best) we up and paid and left.

Food: 8/10. The wait was long, but the food was worth it. Great presentation, equally great flavours.

Coffee: 7/10. The coffee drinking experience was stalled when we moved outside, so it was a bit cooler by the time I got to it again, but all in the name of keeping baby girl busy, which is the most important thing really (even after coffee, I know).

Ambience: Pretty chilled there on the corner of a suburban street.

People: I’d say fairly confidently a good dose of locals and those who are kind of local. There were a few fams there as it was the school holidays, friends meeting for lunch and a lot of leisurely ladies.

Staff: Really lovely from the beginning, welcoming and friendly to baby girl and I, and engaging and helpful too.

Price: For our three lunches and 3 drinks, the tally was $50 ish, which I think was spot on for what we got, and the area we were in.

Advice: If you have kids, go straight out the back with them, rain hail or shine. Just come equipped, with jackets and scarves and beanies (which shouldn’t be so much a problem now as we’re in the midst of a Spring heatwave) so that kids and adults alike stay warm while adults enjoy their food and drink in peace. Because we all need peace.

In a nutshell: I would definitely come here again, they had some very interesting menu options and a wide variety too, including some spectacular sounding shakes which sounded more dessert than liquid! Knowing the outdoor area caters for baby girl is a huge drawcard for me, knowing that both she and I would be happy on return. And any place with the suggestion of coffee in their café name just reeks cool, don’t you think?

Bean Counter Cafe Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Twisted Lyrics #2

Let’s get into some John Legend people! Come on, let’s sing ‘All Of Me’ together:

“What would I do without –

???

???

???

“- your small love.”

‘What would I do without your small love.’ This opening line baffled me for months and months. I thought it was some kind of metaphor. It’s a small love, yet a great love, something like that. Only once actually letting myself listen to the song and not inserting the words I thought I could hear, did I realize one day driving home from work:

“What would I do without your smart mouth.”

Ahhhh. John Legend you cheeky devil. Now that makes sense. Not only are you having a sly dig at your model missus, but you’ve done so so stealthily in a love song, so that she can’t even argue about it… the song is dedicated to her after all.

Honest. Direct. Hi Five Borat-style John Legend, you smart mouth.

Things that shit me… #8

Pedestrians.

Pedestrians shit me big time.

They shit me when they amble over the road ever so slowly, taking in the sights of the uniform, grey, large buildings around them, in a kind of sight-seeing stupor, while an ever-increasing line of cars await their cross so that they can move on through the road that they are unfairly occupying.

They shit me when they run across the road at random intervals, not because it’s their green man, not because it’s their crossing, but because they are doing so ILLEGALLY and just crossing 7 lanes in peak hour to get across to the demanding chicken on the other side.

They mostly shit me when they cross slowly, due to the fact of being so engrossed by their phone screens in front of them that they are unable to see their future prospects of being run over by cranky drivers.

Pedestrians who look down at a device, preoccupied, while taking on the task of crossing a road that inhabits large and heavy vehicles that far surpass their weight, are really playing with fire.

They kind of, deserve to be mowed down.

(Gasp, horror! No, really?)

 A little nudge won’t hurt them… might wake them from their stupor too.

Writer vs. Non

A Non-writer when they are sick:

“I have so much snot, I don’t know where all this flem is coming from.”

A writer when they are sick:

“I have so much snot, it’s like a snot factory is up in there, producing mass amounts as directed by C.E.O Mr Flu. And as Mr Flu reaches the peak of his reign, the snot is being churned out as the workers go into overtime. But then an insider overturns Mr Flu, and there is no choice but for Mr Flu to gradually sack workers, therefore affecting the amount of snot produced, until the factory comes to a point where there are no more workers and no more snot, and of course no more C.E.O Mr Flu.”

Hubbie: “You’re funny.”

Spring on over to (glorious!) Panton’s

Panton Hill Vineyard and Winery
145 Manuka Road Panton Hill

Visiting a winery had been an event-in-waiting for over three years. Before we had fallen pregnant with baby girl, I had been desperate to go to one and quite honestly, get nicely plastered before officially getting off the alcohol wagon for my lonngggg stop-over to responsible-parentsville. We had managed to stop at one, but it hadn’t really fulfilled my winery desires: there had not been a menu available on the day we visited, and though we sampled some wines and did take a bottle home, I had really wanted the full winery experience: food, wine, sitting in the splendid sunshine, ALL OF IT.

I’m an elephant, and I don’t forget. These unfulfilled experiences stay in my mind until the mother-fuckers are ticked off my anal to-do-in-life list.

I don’t even know how we came to the idea though – I think it went something like ‘this Sunday is going to be super awesome weather/this Sunday we are free/what can we do on such a nice day/let’s eat out…. Winery!’

Yes something like that.

So, on the first super amazing Spring Day of September, we headed over to Panton Hill Vineyard and Winery to make my winery dreams come true.

Why Panton’s? Honestly, I was looking at wineries close to our vicinity of town. This one was a 30 minute drive, and compared with wineries of similar distance as well as neighbouring town wineries, this one had a menu on weekends and looked really lovely. The website mentioned something about blending Australian and European surrounds, and I immediately went ‘ding! sold.’

I called them on a Thursday to see if I had to book in advance (if you go somewhere with your child and you don’t book beforehand, you’re uber-confident as well as playing roulette with some gangster Murphy’s Law fairies) and when no one answered I left a message revealing our Sunday intentions.

That night I got a call back, advising that yes, we needed to book, especially as it was going to be a gloriously sunny day. The lady I spoke to was lovely and booked us for 1pm.

Come amazing Sunday lunch, and here Hubbie, baby girl and I are, driving through Eltham and then Diamond Creek, via winding roads and greenery in all directions to finally make our way to a gravel-y, slow, long, driveway leading to Panton’s. The first car park we came across was full, but Hubbie spotted a sign alluding to more spaces behind the building, and so he followed it to find it was so.

After walking into one of the buildings, where there was a private party at one end, and wine tastings up the other, there followed a bit of confusion. There were two nearby buildings, one opposite the one we were in, and one further along the trail, but those two I didn’t see people coming in and out of. Then there was the outside seated area besides this building, with some shaded tables and some next to unopen umbrellas. I had booked for 1pm, but where was the person to seat us? Not to come across all high-brow with my demand of being seated, but as I had been told we were required to book, with the time of 1pm given, it was almost expected that there would be a little reserved sign on a table somewhere with someone waiting to say “Hi Smikg, your table awaits.”

Nope.

I patiently waited behind a couple tasting wines to ask the older gentleman (he appeared to be the only one representing the property around) that we had arrived for lunch and didn’t know where to sit. He said “wherever you like,” and proceeded to point out all the areas we could sit. We headed outside, because we’d just come out of Winter and all.

Here too we hung out for a while. We soon realised there were numbers on other tables (the kind you get when you order so when you sit down the wait staff can find you), but again, no wait staff.

Wait! No, then they appeared. We managed to somewhat successfully flag one young lad down who informed us, once we’d explained our situation (we want food and drink please give it to us) that we were to order and pay inside the building with the gentleman who had been handing out wine tastings. Apparently there was a menu there. Alright then, and back I went. I felt a bit like a see-saw by this stage, but the sun was too damn bright to darken my mood.

I ordered some food and drink, before Hubbie went in to do the same while I now did the babysitting duties, making sure baby girl didn’t throw too many rocks into the nearby fountain and what not. She was having a ball, and usually distractions while we’re out and about, especially when dining, are heavily appreciated, however picking up rocks and throwing them into a pool of water, didn’t seem like it would be heavily appreciated by others. So containing her insane excitement at the task was not-so-fun.

But there was a dog! This was very exciting for baby girl, but we couldn’t let her just wander after it and grab at it, and at the same time, though this sweet dog did seem very hungry, sitting at our feet (and everyone else’s) hoping to be fed, its name tag informed us ‘do not feed the dog!’ Ok then.

We also had the issue of the sun. I know, I know us Melburnians, we whinge all the time “it’s too hot, it’s too cold, it’s too windy, it’s too still now I can’t breathe, it’s just too normal can we have all 4 seasons in one day again?” Anyway, yes we were rapt it was an amazingly beautiful day, and I knew so many people who were out and about and planning so many extraordinary things for this fine Spring day. It was the first one in a LONG time, which my facebook feed also gave testament too at the sheer volume of out-and-about posts that featured that day from almost EVERYONE. However, it was still, it was hot, and sitting under the sun without sunscreen (not used to the fear of not-being white yet so early into Spring) was intense, and then of course, was our sweet baby girl, who we protect like a magpie protects its young swooping down on unsuspecting passersby who hold no intention of malice, just because they are near this time of year. Her precious skin is not for the sun. Our umbrella though, seemed very hard to manoeuver, and it was only when a certain lady came out that I went ‘ahhhh.’

Boss lady. Because she was, it was so damn apparent.

She immediately came to us, knowing we needed it lifted without even asking. She moved through the tables, checking on people, getting things, talking to the suddenly present waiters about what to do. And then we had shade.

And then not long after that, food too:

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We had gotten a few things to share, along with a VB for Hubbie and a glass of Verdelho for me. The menu was primarily pizza, and even the specials that day included lamb on a pizza. It was a fairly casual menu, but still, I didn’t care. There was food, there was alcohol, and there was sun.

We shared the Potato pizza, Classico pizza and Cheese and Spinach Burek. What I had found humorous was when I had asked the man how large the burek was, and he proceeded to give me hand configurations adding that a Turkish man on premises made it. Dude, I know what burek is, my family makes it. That’s like describing to Willy Wonka what chocolate is. And his pronunciation of it was gold. He and his missus may have had accents, but that didn’t allow for the correct pronounciation of it. (Say bu-rek. Pronounce bu, not drawn-out ‘boo,’ but a short ‘bu,’ followed by ‘rek,’ rhyming with ‘neck,’ but the r is short as well, the r Europeans sound out, a bit of a rolling r. Anyway).

I now know that that ‘dude’ goes by the name of Teunis and boss lady, his wife, by Dorothy. I’m not psychic, their website says so. He may not know his burek, but he sure as hell knows his land, and his wine, having purchased that block of land in the ‘70s, transforming it single-handedly into what it is today. When you see the property, you know what an incredible achievement that is. I have such respect for individuals who turn nothing into something unique and spectacular, and Panton Winery sure fits that bill.

The classico pizza had salami, tomatoes, olives and cheese, with the addition of chilli. Hubbie, who had the majority of this one, said he couldn’t really taste the chilli, but still, he ate it all. I had most of the potato pizza, and its combination of rosemary, potatoes, Spanish onion and cheese is always a winner. We all shared the burek which was not served as a loaf as previously indicated (!) but cut up into tiny pieces, all the better as we all nibbled on it and easily fed baby girl pieces too. There were some marinated olives and mushrooms on the side too, and together we finished it all.

Hubbie thought it was fairly standard, however I loved it. Yes the menu was basic, but for me it was more the experience of the setting, wine and food together. Also what was perhaps slightly affecting him was baby girl’s inability to sit down and listen. We did the usual taking turns eating while the other watched her, and when it was my turn to keep her busy while he ate, she and I walked around the grounds while I took some photos of the surrounding bushlands, vineyard, and the picturesque buildings.

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It was getting peaking hot, and with it baby girl’s irritability was cranking up a notch. Getting tired, we didn’t want to push her, but before we left, there was just one thing left to do.

Hubbie watched her while I disappeared here for 20 minutes.

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At first Teunis was meant to give me some wine options, but he got busy and Dorothy stepped in. I had 6 wine taste testings, some red, some white, while two of them I tried decanted. She was asking me if I could taste the difference between the decanted and the standard, and you know, I could, but also, by then we were onto the 5th taste test and it all tasted fine by then. Then she tried to sell me a decanter, and that tipsy side of me was loose, very loose, and very easily persuaded, and Dorothy probably knows to try to sell the decanter on the 5th taste-testing rather than the first, but for some reason this narration kicks in when I start drinking, and the narrator was telling me ‘you know you’re well on your way, don’t just buy something for the sake of it.’

Fortunately for me, the narrator in my mind won out again and I didn’t make a flimsy purchase. I know her decanters were cheaper, but I think I’ll wait and buy a pretty one. Loved the tutorial on why you decanter though, it was very informative.

Anyway, from all of that I walked out with this

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All smiling into the sunlight and whispering to Hubbie as I approached “I just had 6 wine tastings and I’m drunk.”

Yep. Life of a Mum.

We left after that, relieved that baby girl was falling asleep in the car, with sweet memories of rolling hills and wine and mispronounced burek.

Food: 7/10. Yes it was a standard menu, but points for the fresh ingredients (I assume the rosemary we were picking from the shrub with baby girl was used for my potato pizza – but shhh!)

Coffee: N/A. We were really close to ordering it, but Hubbie just couldn’t take the heat (weak) and baby girl’s cheeky antics anymore so we thought we best not to push our stay.

Ambience: Very relaxed. Beautiful. Serene. Amazing surrounds. The buildings, reminiscent of something you may see in Tuscany, transport you to another place and make you feel like you are far, far away, rather than just 30 minutes from home.

People: I was surprised and relieved that we weren’t the only ones with cheeky toddlers. A big family was there, mostly though there were couples and older couples. Also that big party inside the wine-tasting building that was going through the bottles (and so they should).

Staff: I hate to say based on our lovely experience, but kind of not present at first. I put this down not to unwillingness to work or help the guests, but rather the demands placed on them by the people visiting and superb weather. Meaning, they were understaffed. Otherwise they seemed ok, but didn’t hang around to talk. Both owners were chatty, but due to the volume of people they also seemed rushed.

Price: We spent under $60 (and that wasn’t including my approximately $30 bottle of pinot noir), that included the two pizzas and burek all for $15 each, and then there was my white wine and Hubbie’s beer at about $6 each. Perhaps, a bit overpriced for pizza, but I get it, you’re paying for the surrounds, as well as the wine-tastings (how else are they going to justify giving each person 6 different wine-tastings?)

Advice: Go on a gloriously sunny day (have I said gloriously enough in this post yet?!), on the weekend, so you can enjoy both wine and food. Pay and order in the building where all the wines are lined up, and then sit ‘wherever you like.’ And just, enjoy 🙂

In a nutshell: I would definitely come back to this place. Taking baby girl with us, I’d probably go when we have other friends and their kids with us so she could play with them, rather than with the water fountain. Or I could even go as a brunch/lunch option when just meeting up with the girls only. It’s the right place for a relaxing gasbag. And a coffee too, must do that next time I’m there.

They have the right ingredients of setting, scenery, wine and food, but a little work needs to go into welcoming the guests and setting them up properly on arrival so they’re not left wandering the grounds, hungry and thirsty. All in all, an amazing find that I can’t wait to revisit.

To-do-in-life List:

Visit winery and drink and eat on sunny day.
Kiss in the rain.
Watch the sunrise come up while watching from a peak/hill.
See the Aurora Borealis.
See Madonna in concert – soon.
Get published.

Panton Hill Winery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato