Tuesday, August 01, 2006

La Paella Spanish and Moroccan Restaurant

This is an old post from my other blog More Thanh Words which I have decided to group here as it is about food. I have since decided to drop the score down one point for this review since I had just started reviewing restaurants months ago and I was too generous at the beginning.

I went to La Paella Spanish/Moroccan Restaurant with 3 friends on Saturday. The restaurant is located on Sydney Road in Brunswick. This restuarant is one of few restaurants that actually have a webpage. Just having a good webpage scores them points with me already. You can get a feel of what the food is like through the menu and also the costs involved.

The atomsphere inside is comfortable with Moroccan pottery lining the walls and lots of other trinkets on sale littered around the restaurant, including the famous tagines, conical clay pots. You can see the pottery in the picture on the left behind Harinder (in his very cool Indian shirt) and the booth seating with these colourful cushions. There is soft percussive music played in the background and the constant clack clack of the ceiling fans actually sound like those wood clapping things that Flamenco dancers use.

The service is efficient and straight forward. We were given adequate time to order and were looked after with the waitress' attention easily caught to get a glass changed. The waitress made a polite enquiry about the food at the start, which was good in case there was anything wrong.

The food, which is what you come for at La Paella was extremely good. We wanted to order their famous Seafood Paella but seeing how it would take 45 minutes, we decided maybe we will try that next time when we went a bit earlier. So we settled for entrees of Chicken Shasliks (chicken skewers) and Chickpea Salad, and mains of Beef Tagine, Chicken Irfan and Lamb Shanks.

The Shasliks weren't that good, with the chicken being a bit dry and lacking flavour. Surprisingly the Chickpea salad was liked by all, including me. The salad had a nice flavour to it and was fresh and light, with the chickpeas cooked sufficiently so that they were soft.

The Lamb Shanks was nice and hearty with the shanks extremely soft and the meat falling off the bone. It was served with vegetables and and a bed of mash. The Chicken Irfan was very interesting, with grilled banana and pineapple used in the dish. I liked the banana but I have a thing about pineapple in savoury food, I don't mind if it accompanies the food to add flavour but I won't eat it. This is not to say I don't like pineapple, far from it, I love pineapple on its own with some salt and chilli sprinkled on it, I just don't like eating pineapple in savoury food. The chicken itself was a little dry but eaten together with the onions and banana, it worked very nicely. My favourite dish was the Beef Tagine. The beef was moist and soft and the prunes, onions, almonds all made for a very interesting flavour.

For dessert, they only had one item that night, which was the Spanish Flan, so we all got that (it was an easy decision between ice cream or cream with everyone opting for ice cream). The flan was sort of like a creme caramel/custard without the caramel sauce. Instead it had an orange sauce at the bottom and was served with orange slices sprinkled with icing sugar and the ice cream. The orange flavours worked well and it wasn't too sweet.

Overall, La Paella is great food that is different and worth eating once in a while. The atmosphere is good without being too noisy and service is efficient. The prices of the food is quite fare I thought, with the dishes being very substantial in size and quality.

Overall Rating: 15/20, Great food that blends many different flavours.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

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