Shumpty Eats: Earth & Sea Coolangatta

I have decided that I must write a review about my takeaway pizza last night.  I know I said I would review restaurants I attend in this part of my blog but have decided to break the rules this one time.

As I am down at Rainbow Bay / Coolangatta I decided to check in last night at my favourite pizza place: Earth & Sea Coolangatta.  I have been coming to this pizza shop for more years than I can remember and yet again it came up trumps.

My order, as it has been for at least the last 10 years since I discovered the joys of chilli with food, was a small cheese pizza and a large half “Some Like it Hot” and “Number 14”.

The description of each from their menu is as follows:

  • Some Like it Hot: “As our big brothers up the road are fond of repeating, 100% pure beef (with our seven secret herbs and spices), onion and chilli sauce. Italy’s answer to the Aussie meat pie.”
  • Number 14: “When we only had 13 pizzas on the menu the local lads invented the number 14. Great Pizza! Real beef, ham, onion, egg and chilli. Sounds bad, doesn’t it? Well, it is now one of our most popular pizzas, so there!

Now that I have read that again it does strike me that they are quite similar but when you eat them it is the subtle flavours of the eggs and the ham that do really make a difference.  Equally, I am not fussed that they are quiet similar pizzas because food is all about ones personal tastes and preferences and these pizzas are the ones that I like.

As a takeaway experience, you would struggle find one better for mine:

  • The staff member who took my order over the phone knew her stuff: even asked me if I was sure that I wanted that particular combination in my half and half pizza because “you know mate they are basically the same pizza”.  Often that would irritate me but in this context (as it showed she knew the menu) it did not.
  • The 15 minute time estimate for my pick up was spot on.  I walked in, I paid, I had about 30 seconds of banter with the staff member behind the counter and then my pizza was ready.
  • The price was fair for the food that I got.  When you look at the menu you will be taken a bit aback by the pricing of the pizzas: it just looks expensive BUT you have to get past that because the pizzas are massive both from the perspective of size and amount of toppings.

As for the pizzas, I am unable to make a complaint about them.  The cheese pizza that I bought for a bit of nibble later in the evening was the best plain cheese pizza I had (as it has been since it went on the menu).  Why? Because it had a heap of tomato sauce on it.  The half / half pizza was perfect: heaps of beef, heaps of egg and just enough chilli to make me sweat a little under my beard but not so much that I would be awake at 2am tasting the pizza in the back of my throat.

I am not surprised by this though because over at least 20 years of coming to Earth & Sea Coolangatta I have never been left disappointed.

A review of a takeaway pizza would not be complete without an assessment of how the pizza went second time around having been refrigerated over night.  The leftovers ticked all of the boxes for a “morning after the night before” breakfast: the topping all still stayed on the pizza, the base was not too hard and cold it tasted almost as good as it did when it came out of the oven.

All in all, as a takeaway experience I can not fault the guys at Earth & Sea Coolangatta (80 Marine Pde, Coolangatta) and recommend you check it out if you are down this way.

 

Shumpty Eats: Sprout Cafe

I love food: anyone who is my size only gets to this size if they do. It would be fair to say that I have fairly eclectic and limited tastes: but as the saying goes “I like what I like”.

Last night I ate at Sprout Cafe in Auchenflower, Brisbane. The immediate impression one gets when you walk into the place is that the room is small. It struck me that there looked like there was just one too many tables in the room: more about that later.

To the food first: for entree I ordered the onion soup with a cheese and crouton crust. It was nothing short of excellent. There was just enough onion without it being too overpowering. If I had to be critical I would say that there could have been a little more cheese in the crust but all in all I was left very content with the opening culinary salvo of the evening.

For main, and unusually for me, I stayed on the vegetarian side of things and ordered the Romana Gnocchi with stuffed capsicum. This was a delight, small but a delight. The gnocchi was perfect and melted in the mouth. The capsicum, which was roasted and stuff with lentils and mushrooms (though I can not be sure: am no gourmet as I have attested to above), I had been worried about but the flavours were perfectly mixed and made it the star of the dish.

Those of you who know me well will know that normally I eschew deserts. Having seen the words “pistachio” and “creme brûlée” in the same sentence on the desert menu, last night I made an exception. I was glad I did because, and I am saying this a lot in this review, it was excellent. The brûlée was perfect with the pistachio flavour more subtle than overpowering. The accompanying passionfruit sorbet was just that: an excellent accompaniment.

So, it is pretty clear from the foregoing, that I can not say a bad word about the food. If only that was the whole story though.

As excellent as the food was my experience at Sprout will forever be tarnished but the service we received. I will not get into chapter and verse; rather I summarise the service experience as follows:

1. Delays: whilst our entree and main order was taken with alacrity and our food came out swiftly, when it came time for dessert, despite our menus being provided some 5 minutes following the main, it then took 35 minutes for our dessert order to be taken.

2. Corkage: I love a BYO restaurant. I repeat: I love a BYO restaurant. What I do not love is paying corkage when the wait staff do not deign to pour drinks. In the end I ended up being our drinks waiter for the evening. To add insult to injury paying corkage for those who do not drink (as a teetotaller this issue arises often) is something I can not say impresses.

3. Because the room was over full our table seemed to be wedged against a wall, which lead to the waiter needing to hand our food to us rather than place it. Not a big issue for me but one that raised many comments around the table.

Now I am abundantly aware that in isolation any of these issues would not wreck the dining experience for many and to raise them individually could be considered petty. However, these factors in concert really took the gloss of the dining experience. The service questions were made all the more grating because it seemed like the restaurant was over staffed.

I will go back to Sprout: the food is too good to ignore BUT I will be going back on a Tuesday night when the restaurant is less busy (I presume).

Summary:

Food: 9 out of 10 Great menu, great food and chef must be congratulated.

Service: 4 out of 10 Poor: enough said as it may have just been an off night for them.

Price: 8 out of 10 Excellent value for money. The pricing structure is set so if you have two courses it is $55 or three course is $70. I love this idea and think the value for money was great. Corkage of $5 is not bad save for the issues noted above.

Overall: 6 out of 10.

Sprout BYO French Cafe on Urbanspoon