Promenade Restaurant, Glenelg

Stamford Grand Hotel
photo by Mike Lawton

date of visit: Sunday 15 January 2012

Our overseas guests expressed a desire to have dinner overlooking the sea before leaving and my thoughts turned, naturally, to Glenelg. Which is a bit silly, as I could have also made a couple of reasonably sound choices in plenty of other places. Still, I ummed and aahed about a couple of Glenelg venues and finally decided on the Promenade Restaurant at the Stamford Grand.

As a rule, I LOVE hotel restaurants. I’ve eaten at some very good ones and as I don’t think I’ve ever had dinner at the Promenade it was also an opportunity to try something new-ish. Only new-ish because I’ve had both lunch and afternoon tea at the Promenade. To be honest, previous experiences hadn’t been exactly great but I was prepared to give the Grand another go, at a different time of day.

What a mistake. I don’t think I got more than part way through my entrée when I really started to regret my choice of venue.

Service wise, it was all a bit Fawlty Towers and I really felt sorry for the young (French Canadian) woman who was either maître d’ or our main waiter because she was constantly chasing up the staff around her.

I don’t think I’ll catalogue everything that went wrong – the service was cringeworthy – so I’ll just dish up a few highlights. The wine list, for a restaurant which has quite a few tickets on itself, in such a wine rich and savvy state, is depressingly pedestrian (and if the management of the restaurant seriously think people will order a $355 bottle of Dom Pérignon without a vintage, I bet they find themselves sorely mistaken). We ordered a bottle of Mr Riggs Riesling, but a bottle of the Mr Riggs Outpost (Cabernet Sauvignon) was brought to the table. The French Canadian lady noticed, but not before we’d noticed but thankfully before the bottle was opened and the waiter was sent away to bring the right wine.

The service highlight was, without a doubt, that our main courses arrived before our entrée plates had been cleared. Yes, the main courses didn’t hit our table (again, thanks to the French Canadian woman) but there they all were, lined up, ready to go before there was a frantic clearing of dishes to create space for them. That gives you an idea of the kind of pace at which the meal was run.

OK – service was woeful. Let’s talk about the food.

I started with the goat’s cheese soufflé, served with caramelised onions. I think I can live with the fact that my food was served on wildly geometric plates, but what I cannot deal with is the fact that the plate was drizzled (artistically, of course) with a reduced balsamic glaze and that was ALL I could taste. In terms of texture and weight, the soufflé seemed fine, but in terms of taste – I have no idea. It tasted of reduced balsamic glaze.

I ordered the Parmesan crusted scallops for my main course. These were offered as both an entré and a main. For $32 I received 6 scallops that were all on the small side. There were all served in the shell, on a cauliflower and roasted garlic puree. I don’t know what I was envisaging at the time, but now I’ve thought about it – quite a lot – I imagine this dish should have been big, fat scallops, perfectly cooked and caramelised, topped with crisp Parmesan wafers. The wafers could be held in place by tiny dollops of the puree. But no, the way the dish was executed was more like scallops crumbed in a breadcrumb and Parmesan mix and then deep fried. The puree was OK (after the disappointment of the scallops I suspect most things would have been good) but nothing to write home about. In keeping with the over the top presentation, the scallop shells were served on a long rectangular plate filled with sea salt.

By the time I finished my main course, I really wanted to escape. I was hating myself for not going with what had been my second choice. I was hating my food, I was hating the service, I was hating the fact that we were sitting in the atrium area and I was hot. And I was really hating how much everything was costing.

By the time we left, we spent about $100 a head. Far, far too much. The Promenade restaurant has fancy restaurant prices but doesn’t deliver. It’s really much more of a casual dining venue. I’m pretty scruffy normally but I love dressing up for a good meal out – but the Promenade isn’t the place to do that. Casual to smart casual and you’ll be fine.

This is just so disappointing – the Grand is a flashy hotel, on the waterfront, that must have a lot of interstate and international guests. The restaurant should be showcasing South Australian wine, with an interesting selection of Australian and imported wines. It should be showcasing South Australian produce (very few dishes on the menu detailed provenance) and it should really, really get its service act together.

My recommendation – go somewhere else. Glenelg has loads of places to choose from of varying price and quality. Personally – I suggest you head to Tasca Viva.

Promenade Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Manee Siam

Thailand: Bangkok

photo by puuikibeach

date of visit:  Tuesday 25 October 2011

Manee Siam happens to be more or less over the road from a friend’s house so it’s quite a surprise it’s taken us so long to get there. I have to admit that I’ve often wondered whether or not the restaurant is open – one of its street front signs looks unbelievably worn and tattered for an open business … It turns out it is very much open for business and after a bit of a false start (double booking by me – ouch!) we finally made it for a very early (6pm) dinner on a Tuesday night.

Even at this early time we weren’t the first people in the restaurant – another family had beaten us to it! We were quickly settled at our table with proper table linen and high chair and plastic cutlery and crockery thoughtfully provided for the baby.

With a baby in tow there’s not usually very much mucking around when it comes to perusing the menu and choosing food. With beers at hand, we settled on sharing some entrées before the mains. We started with spring rolls and fish cakes which, if we’re being brutally honest, were really nothing special at all. In fact, after the meal we all admitted that we were a little bit worried about the rest of the meal. The fish cakes in particular were the chewy, rubbery type that you can’t help thinking have gone straight from the freezer to the fryer and been just that bit over cooked.

But we all held our disappointment in check and our main courses soon arrived. I had chosen the hot chilli pork: a stir fry with green beans, capsicums, chilli paste and basil. At a ridiculously cheap $12.50 the portion size was perfect and there was plenty of heat from the chilli paste along with sweetness from the basil. The dish wasn’t overloaded with beans or capsicum as a filler and wasn’t drowning in sauce. I was very pleased.

Also at our table we had a beef massaman curry which passed its test with flying colours – especially on the beef tenderness front. And Andy had the seafood combination stir fry with basil which he cheerfully polished off. Both of these dishes came in at just $15 each.

Service was perhaps a little slow – it wasn’t an issue for us because we were dining so early on (although, by the time we left around 7:30pm, quite a few additional parties had arrived) but I can see how this could pose an issue at busier times. For me, the slowness of service was made up for by attentiveness and thoughtfulness: no restaurant yet has brought out dedicated baby friendly tableware and the staff were all friendly and helpful.

Of course, the icing on the cake was how ludicrously cheap and good our meal was. We spent $30 a head, which included a generous tip (so we could easily divide the bill by three!) and included the entrées, mains, rice, one dessert (ice cream and lychees – I don’t think you need a description of that!) and drinks. If you were trying to save money you could easily leave having spent less than $20 a head.

We don’t eat Thai very often but we’d be more than happy to return to Manee Siam and I suggest you try it out too!

Manee Siam Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon




date of visit:  Sunday 4 Sept 2011

To be perfectly honest, I forgot that it was Fathers Day* so I thought nipping for an early dinner in town (and when I say early, I mean 6pm-ish) wouldn’t be  a problem.  By the time I remembered the occasion, we were already committed and it turned out I needn’t have worried.

When we arrived at Bareñdoe we actually thought it was shut. The restaurant has two rooms that face Hutt Street and the first was full of stacked tables and chairs and in darkness. Someone sitting out the front having a coffee pointed us towards the right door.

The restaurant has quite a plush feel to it: carpets, leather (or at least leather like – I didn’t spend that much time inspecting) chairs, and proper cloth napkins. The décor is very contemporary.

When we arrived, there was just one other table (of four) seated. Usually if we are out with the pram and baby I ring venues ahead, to make sure they can (and are happy to) accommodate us but on this occasion I hadn’t. We were able to snuggle ourselves into a corner near the bar without too much hassle but it was cosy. Still, Bareñdoe isn’t really the type of restaurant you’d drag a small child to on a Friday night and there were definitely plus points as the staff were happy to shift tables and chairs around so we could squeeze in the pram.

As we were there for a quick dinner, we only tried out the main courses. Andy ordered the Italiano calzone (declared by one friend to be the “best calzone ever”) and I chose the linguine marinara. Both were very nice – Andy was not sure that, while very tasty, the calzone could be described as the best ever. My linguine ticked a lot of boxes – the pasta was al dente, the seasoning was good, the amount of chilli was just right. However, one of my clams had remained resolutely shut and should never have made it out of the kitchen. Also, the menu describes the dish as calamari, scallops, prawns and clams but on my plate mussels substituted for the scallops. While this doesn’t make any difference to me, it’s the type of thing that customers should be told about when ordering. I imagine plenty of people like scallops but not mussels and maybe some people are even allergic to one but not the other (I know shellfish can be a bit funny like that).

Service wise things were OK. There were no blatant faux pas, and there was nothing particularly stellar about our experience. Bareñdoe does indulge in one of my pet hates – the comedy oversized pepper mill being brought to the table and we did have to wait a little while when it came to sorting out the bill (given that by that point there were a whole two other tables occupied no one can blame an unexpected rush for front of house staff).

Overall, we both felt that, while we had enjoyed our food, it was just a trifle expensive ($22 for the calzone, $27 for the pasta). It was as though everything was trying just a little too hard to be something it wasn’t. While it’s very pleasant to eat in a restaurant with carpet and soft furnishings (and much reduced clatter, as a result) this alone doesn’t push it out to a fine dining experience. And I’m not convinced that that’s where Bareñdoe should be aiming.

While I’d be happy to eat at Bareñdoe again, I don’t think we’ll be rushing back. But you should probably make up your own mind on the calzone!

Barendoe on Urbanspoon

*No discussion on the lack of apostrophe, please.  If you take the approach that it’s a day for fathers then there’s no implied possession and no need for an apostrophe.