Off the wall

Off The Boat
203 Edwardes Street Reservoir

(Visited March ’16)

It was a lovely Autumn’s day in mid-March that had us deciding to lunch at this restaurant/café of European origins:) I had been to Edwardes Park Lake across the road with my parents and baby girl, trying to take advantage of as much park/mild weather/grandparent/bonding time as I could. It was all too easy to wander over to the edge of the park and cross the road to Off The Boat, on the corner of Edwardes and Spratling street.

I had wanted to come here many times already, but the right opportunity had never presented itself. It seemed very quiet from the outside, there wasn’t anyone eating out there, but upon entry I was surprised to see that there were already quite a few lunchtime diners. We took a table near the back of the café with a booth, so baby girl could jump up and down as she pleased.

It’s a small café/restaurant, with an ice cream/gelati section up the front near the register, alongside the coffee machine. It’s cosy and homely, making you feel like you may be somewhere at Nonna’s house, rather than a corner café in Reservoir. I immediately warmed to it.

We didn’t have to wait long to receive our food, all of us sharing

The Capricciosa – tomato, mozzarella, ham, olives, mushrooms

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And the Patatine Fritte – potato chips

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We were all in unison over our opinion of the pizza. It was a light and thin base, yet still the generosity of the pizza toppings made it incredibly moorish. Being a thin base, made it easy to eat, and we polished off the whole thing between the 4 of us! The chips were golden and upon arrival very hot, which made it hard to explain to a hungry baby girl who kept bringing it to her lips too soon, but I personally love food extra hot, I don’t know but it just emphasises the ‘fresh’ factor.

My Mum said the pizza was really good too, and said they had done something different with the base, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. My Mum being an old-style cook, and a self-proclaimed detective, does not give out points so easily, always saying that everything home-cooked is better. It’s true. But the fact that she gave credit here, I thought was enormous. The pizzas do come out of a wood-fire oven, so I don’t know how much that has to do with it… but oh my God they were good.

After our food we had some coffees. Cappuccinos and babycino

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I particularly liked their own personal addition of a sweet Italian cube of cake placed beside the coffees we received. Very clever. The cake was nice, and I don’t know why I was surprised, but I was, as the coffee was quite good.

Because of the company and the weather, the food and coffee, the day had turned out exceptionally well! I went up to the counter to pay and continue our damn fine day.

Food: 8.5/10. It’s not just your average, run-of-the-mill Italian café. This place has heart and quality, and it showed in what we received that day and the subsequent surroundings.

Coffee: 8/10.

Ambience: If you’re not Italian and you don’t know how it would feel like to be in Nonna’s house, well just picture yourself in a little café on a side-street in Italy, and if you haven’t been there, just use your damn imagination. Cute, warm, ethnic. Really homely surrounds, makes you feel at ease straight away.

People: There was a mix of people but there were duos all around – tradie duos, friends meeting over lunch duos, and older duos. I think it’s a lot of locals coming in, but with the fare provided I wouldn’t be surprised if people came from much further afield to enjoy this fantastic eatery.

Staff: Friendly and warm. Our waitress wasn’t hanging over our table but when we called on her she was accommodating.

Price: $35-ish for all our food, which I considered fairly reasonable since it was shared and had fed 4 of us, and then we had gotten caffeinated too.

Advice: Go across the road to Edwardes Park Lake first, then once you’ve exhausted yourself walking, jumping around on the playgrounds, or chasing unruly children, give yourself a break (and your entourage too) by walking across the road and having an afternoon of fine Italian fare. You won’t be sorry.

Regarding seating, if you have older kids, it’s fine to sit outdoors, however with toddlers I’d advise you stay inside… there is a kind of enclosure separating the street from the outside eating area, but with a fairly main road RIGHT THERE on the doorstep of the café, I wouldn’t want to risk it, would you? No. That’s perhaps the only downfall, so staying indoors is the safe option.

In a nutshell: I really loved this place, and my eyes widened when upon paying they feasted upon the wide range of ice creams on offer. Hmmm, I set a plan into motion.

Step 1: Convince Hubbie to have a park day on the next sunny day.

Step 2: Go to Edwardes Park Lake with Hubbie and baby girl, and get them both really tired and hungry – tips: let him catch her (encourage her to chase ducks); he pushes her on the swing as I conveniently step back; she makes him partake in all the playground activities (after I whisper to her to pull Dada along to do everything with her).

Step 3: “Oh, would you look at that! A café! And it’s lunchtime. Gee, are you hungry?” (Baby girl will be so hungry and irritable by this stage that driving home 15 minutes will be like hell on earth – only option, EAT NOW).

Step 4: Eat food at Off The Boat. Drink coffee. Then buy ice cream and take to park to eat there and have more fun.

Step 5: Great park/café day concluded.

😉

These guys may be Off The Boat, but they certainly brought all the good stuff with them.

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Off the Boat Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Farm Vigan-OH!

Farm Vigano
10 Bushmans Way South Morang

I had known about this place for a while. Some friends of ours had gone there, and had mentioned that they primarily did pizza. I saw the same online, and along with some inconsistent reviews, decided that ‘pizza’ wasn’t enough to get me over to South Morang (say Moranj*) alone.

Boy was I wrong.

Another friend recently mentioned the place and its sprawling landscape, which spiked my interest in it again. So on a Sunday afternoon, Hubbie, Baby girl and I ventured over to Farm Vigano to see what the fuss was all about.

As soon as we entered the driveway, I could sense it. It was different. The tall trees gave the outdoor area a definite refinement, and by the drop in landscape along one side of the dwelling, and those green tree views of the surrounding parkland – WOW. Even after parking and starting our steep decent down towards the building, I kept getting the thought ‘where are we going?’ ‘and how does this place exist in these parts?’

We were not in Kansas/South Moranj anymore.

Outside, there were umbrella’d tables sitting upon concrete, with a few diners present there. That gave it a strong European feel, and inside, the Monaco feel just intensified. White surrounds, clean finishes, splashes of yellow with white stripes, a classic gold and unobtrusive cross on the wall, and elegant black shade lamps and black lantern candelabra-style fixtures adorned the place. I really felt like I was dining in a European café. It was poshy, yet very reminiscent of a certain time, and a certain place.

The place does perfectly at that too. The estate used to belong to the late restauranteur Mario Vigano and his artist wife Maria Teresa, and the culture they upheld certainly has stood the test of time and made its way splendidly to the present day. The attention to detail and immediate atmosphere you get upon entering, are unmistakable. I want to come back in my next life as an Italian. I’m already half way there, I have the prerequisite of loving pasta.

We had been lucky at arriving just after 2pm, and naively hadn’t booked. We were queried this, but despite it were still seated by the window, with an amazing outlook of the acreage below.

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We were so lucky to be early and naïve, rather than late and so, because in half an hour this place was rocking, and really full. From walking in to a room of NO ONE, to a room that was brimming with voices just a short time later, left me stunned. It led me to the conclusion that they MUST open for lunch after 2pm, but having looked through their web site I didn’t find anything to confirm that, so I still don’t know. It was our stupid luck indeed.

After I started sipping on my pinot grigio looking across the expansive landscape

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(it’s a hard life) we got this:

No 201 Pappardelle Con Salsiccia – pappardelle with Italian pork sausage ragu

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Gamberetti – flash fried school prawns, w/ coriander, ginger, chilli & sriracha hot sauce

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And the Schiacciata – rustic pizza w/ garlic, rosemary and Spanish onion

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First I’ll mention that the meals came really quickly, but maybe that’s because we’d managed to order before everyone else arrived and subsequently ordered. It was surprising.

The pasta was for Hubbie as he hadn’t actually eaten yet. He liked the saucy and meaty pasta dish, and I loved the texture of the pasta itself, but other than that he didn’t think it was anything unbelievable or life-altering.

The waitress had informed me it was “baby prawns” I was getting in the Gamberetti, however I didn’t realise what she meant until I got them – a whole bowl of actual tiny prawns, with their soft shells intact. Having never eaten these in my life, I didn’t know whether I was meant to peel them, or eat the thing as is sardine style. I soon realised that shelling it was necessary, though a few pieces went devoured unchecked… getting through that bowl and peeling each piece properly was both time-consuming and messy!

The pizza was mainly reserved for baby girl, who enjoyed holding the slice herself and chomping in. Bless 🙂 It was a great tasting pizza, so simple and fresh with its tried-and-tested base ingredients.

Although there were aspects of our meal that we wouldn’t revisit, I felt that was partly due to the fact that we hadn’t been properly prepared for it (both baby girl and I had already eaten) and also as those previous reviews had informed me, the menu selection was a bit narrow. A huge range of pizzas was accompanied by some side dishes, two pasta options, and the only meat on the menu was pork and lamb, both advised to be shared by at least two people. However, with the antipasto selection as well, along with the quality of all they offered, I could suddenly understand why the place had become packed instantly on a Sunday at 2pm. Did I mention those green surrounds? OMG. This place, even if it only did pizza, was worth it.

We decided to get some coffees, and they too arrived very quickly.

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Baby girl loved her babycino, but then again she won’t knock back any frothed/chocolatey milk she gets. After her half cup of froth, she happily drank the rest of the mix, leaving beautiful chocolate marks alongside her mouth, cheeks and forehead. A good sign.

Although I had really enjoyed my coffee, I hadn’t noticed until the other day when we ventured there again for coffee only…. that the coffee was REALLY good. It was hot – so hot Hubbie burnt his tongue first time he went to sip it. Coffee is never that hot. If anything, it’s lukewarm when it arrives. This was hot, not burning hot, but HOT. Secondly, it was smooth, with not ONE little tenth of a taste of any bitterness. Thirdly, it was strong, but not so strong that it would leave me with the fear of being up ‘til 1am that following morning. And, on both occasions of having this coffee, it was consistent. Both at busy times, and not.

Which when added up, leaves me with a pretty perfect coffee.

What?! A perfect coffee? Like the food and the surrounds and the EVERYTHING, I just wasn’t ready for this.

Food: 7.5/10… though this rating would have likely gone up had we indulged in the desserts. Did someone mention Nutella doughnuts? OMG that’s right, the top selection of their desserts lists this scrumptious bombolone, which means… (check ‘In a nutshell’).

Even though we weren’t overwhelmed with happy vibes over our particular selections that day, we still can’t wait to come back to try more… hungrier this time.

Coffee: 9.5/10. Like I said, I wasn’t ready for this! Am I right, to possibly give this café the highest score in coffee, something previously never before done by me? Because I wasn’t expecting this, and I didn’t fully critique the taste in the moment, I will almost give it the highest score, in the knowledge that it was consistently good on both occasions, but also I didn’t get a chance to really savour it, if you know what I mean. But decently strong – tick. Smooth – tick. Hot – tick. I need to know what type of coffee they use, because I just can’t stop thinking about it.

Ambience: Laidback Euro-style mixed with $$$. It was relaxed, certainly more so when the volume rose several octaves and the restaurant was brimming with voices, but there was a definite refinement to the air, or maybe that was the fresh bush surroundings…

People: As above. These are the rich folk who come out to party with their (well-earned) cash. It was painfully obvious. There were several functions happening all at the same time, comprising of anything from 5 to 15 people, many groups of older people dining out, and families. Not really a ‘young person’ thing, but I have to say it has nothing to do with the pricing accessibility of the dishes, it’s not that expensive… yet for some reason, it’s just all the older generation hanging off the parklands. Interesting. All are certainly welcome though, as there was like us, another family with littlies on the next table, who up’d and left after literally half an hour of juggling their two boys. Leaving all their uneaten food on the table. (Like I said, $$$).

Staff: They were lovely and attentive. Didn’t really get any special personal ‘warmth’ like what we receive in other restaurants, where you feel like you get on a first-name basis with the waitress to the point of catching up for after-work drinks, but still they were professional and on cue.

Price: $81 for our 3 meals, two alcoholic beverages and 3 coffees. They charged us $1 for baby girl’s babycino! All it was was frothed milk. There was chocolate milk underneath the foam rather than just plain milk, but still, come on guys. I have a massive grip (see here) with restaurants charging for babycinos, especially since the kid’s parents are usually paying for other items, and therefore shouldn’t have to pay about the $1 mark for a few tablespoons of froth. I can somehow turn the blind eye when for example baby girl gets marshmallows, or some bikkie on the side, but still, come on. It’s the freaking moral. Restaurants unfairly charging for babycinos won’t keep me from ordering them, but it will keep me continuing to shout from the rooftops “Babycinos should be for free!”

Advice: So definitely book. Here, I think it’s a thing. It was dumb luck that we came in before everyone else and got one of the best seats in the house. If it’s a weekday you’ll probably get away with it though. The driveway down to the restaurant is steep, so be aware high-heeled ladies and walking-impaired others.

In a nutshell: I need to come back here, for so many reasons. 1) the coffee (what bean do they use?) 2) their other pizzas (there are so many!) and 3) the bombolone. Did I mention the Nutella doughnuts? Nutella doughnuts people, and I’m not even a Nutella fan!
And 4) the view. Oh the view. An amazing find, a true gem in this part of the ‘burbs, and a lucky treat for the locals.

(*I can make fun of the Northern suburbs because I live there 😉 )

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