The Chameleon. Lurking in the urban jungle, undetected, unknown, blending into the ever changing landscape, sampling everything from fine dining to reviewing take away joints, this lizard loves food possibly a little bit too much.

State of Food: Restaurant Furniture

Why a restaurant must pay attention to a wobbly table, miss-placed setups or back-achingly uncomfortable chairs.

It's been about a year and a half since I started this blog. Inspired by my glutinous love of food, a human necessity to eat, and the fact that I am often able to eat and get refunds or claim it on my tax (he...he...he), I felt the need to share my culinary thoughts with the world.

During this time I have visited close to 40 restaurants, and while that works out to an average of about only one per fortnight, blogging about the visits has been a little pleasure I afford myself with the little free time I have outside of my busy day job. The views have been steadily growing and I am now entering the dreaded PHASE 2; gettin a bit more serious.

So, welcome to the "State of Food", a new section for the blog that allows me to recap my thoughts around some of the learnings that have occurred.

Restaurant furniture. Tables, chairs. Right? There is so much more to these seemingly mundane pieces of plastic, timber and upholstery, yet, I'm going to say, restaurant furniture is quite possibly the most important asset a food establishment may neglect.

Tables. Recently I had the pleasure of visiting Kendo's Irish Cafe on Ruthven Street (review coming soon). I was there for lunch and the place was kind of empty which I always like because it means my wait for the gastronomical onslaught is typically short. I was greeted and sat at a table of my choice by a cheery waitress, which of course is a lovely gesture, but it was here that I found that the table was wobbly. In fact, it was excessively wobbly to a point of distraction and actually made eating the stew I ordered problematic.
So? I hear you ask. Well, here is the thing. A part of the experience of dining out is of course the customer service and upon finding out that the table was indeed a bit wonky, the waitress did...nothing. She didn't offer a different table (even though there were numerous empty ones about), she didn't try to rectify the situation at all by fixing it on the spot and overall and it detracted from the experience. I sincerely hope that that table is now lying in some scrap heap, for Kendo's sake.
Table choice is critical; too large and it's difficult to talk to someone across the table (Carousel), too small and it's hard to fit the plates and glasses and handbags and wine (Sofra) and if it's too basic, you feel like the restaurateur just doesn't actually care. The table must also match the setting, just like at Hogs Breath Cafe, where the thick timber works well, but the same tables would look out of place at Bazzar.

Chairs. You may have possibly heard that some restaurants DELIBERATELY make you sit on chairs that were designed specifically to be uncomfortable so that you do not decide to camp for hours on end taking up precious floor space after devouring your meal. Places like McDonalds and KFC are the masters at this, but then again, should I really be referring to these as "restaurants"? Unfortunately, there appears to be some out there who pay very little attention to the comfort of their patrons and the decision to dump uncomfortable, although quite possibly stylish looking, chairs next to their tables comes at a hefty price. Subconsciously perhaps, diners may not want to stay for that second bottle of wine after their meal, or the place might miss out on a dessert order after the mains. Some of the best seating so far has been at Phat Burgers where there is a choice in seating, as well as the Federal Hotel, where the simple fabric chairs were quite comfortable.
Another area that is often neglected is waiting chairs/benches for take away customers, or while waiting to be seated. Wagaya definitely gets it right with a comfortable bench seat, while at Thai Tanee my little one and I had to sit at a table next to the busy entrance for a lengthy wait on mediocre no-thrills chairs.

Dining setup. All these tables and chairs need to be spread throughout the dining space and a bit of thought here goes a long way. A great example of good design is at Bistro Gitan where there appears to be some weird dark magic being used to organise formal seating, couple seating and bar-style tables highly effectively to cater for what seems like thousands. Phat Burgers too have a highly effective layout. In other places tables are crammed in, making for a "busy" experience especially at a buffet (read Bazzar) and at Sofra I continually felt squashed in while waitresses flashed by with plates of goodness. I think the key word here is 'balance' and it is this that I find quite a number of restaurants just do not think about. If they are a busy place, they cram more in, if it's doing mainly take-away trade, the tables and chairs are arranged in uninspiring army-dining-hall style lines.

So far it's been a mixed bag; there are some simply superb examples of well executed restaurants where the furniture augments the atmosphere, allows free movement throughout the place and makes you want to stay for another wine or two. But then again, there are dreadful examples of wonky furniture, uncomfortable seating and cramped setups that make you wish you were at one of those plastic booths at Hungry Jacks.

Up Front Club

Overall score: 90/100

Restaurant:
Website
Up Front Club on Urbanspoon


Getting lunch in Maleny in a hurry is often quite difficult. This hippie cum chick-cool village, is always bustling with tourists, even on weekdays, and I was fortunate to luck upon a seat at this quaint little joint in the middle of town.  

THE EXPERIENCE
Whoever designed the interior of the Up Front Club must have known what they were doing, as the interior of this place was masterfully decorated to perfectly match the Maleny 'vibe'. The dark theme that dominated the design worked so well; looking out towards the door, at almost every angle, I got the feeling every view was framed like I was staring out at bizarre moving paintings, which was the hustle and bustle of a typical Maleny lunch time scene. 

The staff were great, especially the waitress who smiled a lot and made meaningless small-talk chit chat comfortable.    
THE FOOD
I have never had the pleasure of trying arancini balls, so when I saw this unusual Sicilian named dish on the menu, I was up for something new. These had a delicious cheesy center that were melted to perfection and the accompanying salad and pumpkin were wonderfully executed; in fact, the pumpkin was "perfect". It is worthy to note that although I am describing what I had chosen off the lunch menu, the Up Front Club is known for changing it's menu quite frequently and the arancini balls might most likely be no more. If the restaurant gets it's other meals as right as it did on the occasion of my visit, you will not be disappointed.          


OVERALL

My visit to the Club was a very pleasant one and I can truly say that as a meat-eater, I have never enjoyed a vegetarian lunch as much as this (mum's cooking excluded of course). The atmosphere of retro-cool with that well designed interior justifies my conclusion that you should visit there next time you're in hippie territory. 90/100  

Thai Tanee (Takeaway)

Overall score: 78/100 (take away adjusted)

Restaurant:
Website
Thai Tanee on Urbanspoon

Please NOTE: The Chameleon is switching to a first person writing style as of June, 2014

Travelling regional Queensland is a wonderful experience for many a tourist visiting our shores, but for us Aussies, it's often just a bland experience of one red-neck town after another. Sometimes though, there are places that surprise me, as was the culinary case when I visited Rockhampton not too long ago. You see, for me, Rockhampton has always been that regional hub that you pass through, notice a few people driving their cars with their Acubras on, beef, beef and more pub beef, a place where you wouldn't really see anything 'special' if you know what I mean. Anyway, I was in town and was looking for a place to get some takeaway; Urbanspoon led me to Thai Tanee   

THE EXPERIENCE

I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to eat on this occasion, so I went to this restaurant at the recommendation of my Urbanspoon app and found a nice, neat, well setup Thai place not far from the CBD. The hostess who took our order was very friendly and there were smiles aplenty which made the experience of ordering very pleasant indeed. For a second, I was lost in this clash of cultures; Rockhampton. Thai food. No Acubras in sight. A nice Asian inspired restaurant.    

THE FOOD

As this is a 'takeaway' review, a lot of the final score reflects the actual taste and texture of the food, the balance between dishes, but not the presentation. And as you can see, 78 was the final result. Thai Tanee threw up some amazing surprises, but then there were some unfortunate let downs in critical parts of the dishes. As a staring example, the skewers. The taste was absolutely awesome; nice peanuty flavours dominated each bite and the extra peanut sauce was a very nice touch. But, and unfortunately there was a big but, the chicken was very much dry. 
On the plus side, we found a small serving of cucumber salad with our order and this tasted absolutely divine. It was great that the dryness could be offset just a little with this little pearler of a salad. The main dish was pork and it too was dry; a significant mistake with this type of meat. Again, there was something which offset this setback, and this time it was int he form of the rice. Oh, that delicious rice! It was cooked to perfection and the addition of a very Thai inspired piece of lime worked outstandingly.    


OVERALL

Thai Tanee is a cultural oddity in Rockhampton; a Thai restaurant in the regional beef capital. The food was a mixed bag unfortunately, and the spots of brilliance that came out of the plastic bag, was ruined by dryness where dryness can not be. I would like to re-sample this restaurant next time I visit Rocky, but as a sit down instead.  78/100  

Waves Buffet Restaurant

Overall score: 77/100

Restaurant:
Website
Waves Buffet Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Please NOTE: The Chameleon is switching to a first person writing style from this review onwards (June, 2014)


Sometimes, just sometimes, the idea of visiting a buffet seems like a reasonable one. On this occasions, in the company of work colleagues who liked to indulge in a bit of glutinous feasting, I opted to join the group at Waves Buffet Restaurant. The $55 all-you-can-eat option for the night seemed feasible, especially since my day job provider would be picking up the bill. 

THE EXPERIENCE
The place looks clinical. As I approached the vast open entrance, I remember thinking "...geez, this feels a bit like an airport lounge eatery..." but nonetheless we were greeted by a smiling host and seated quite promptly within a manner of about one minute. On this evening the restaurant was rather quiet, at about 20% capacity, which made it all the better as a full buffet can be a very uncomforting experience, as witnessed by another recent "buffet" trip. My group was seated a small hike from the action, which wasn't such a terrible thing, as it allowed us to have a bit of privacy to part take in our various small talk sessions.  

The staff were wonderful overall, but no one really went out of their way to go the extra mile either. The tables were routinely cleaned slightly later then they should have been and the chef behind the requests counter was cheery enough but again, service that is typical these days in most decent restaurants. 


THE FOOD
As I mentioned, the place looked clinical, which was actually quite a positive for a buffet; cleanliness can never be overrated at such an establishment and it felt very much that at this place, there was no place for second rate food to hide.

Without going into extensive detail about all the food, which was of various consistency, I'll touch on a highlight and a lowlight. The highlight was obvious and jumped out at me with two hands; I happened to find tucked away in a corner, the most delicious pork belly! It was a large serving, thick and full of flavour, prepared just as pork belly should be. It was juicy, sticky, full-on flavour punches that kept on coming. The lowlight was definitely the prawns. Flavourless, textureless and very much a disappointing part of the evening for me. When a buffet which prides itself on it's seafood presents such disastrous prawns, the main staple, it is indeed a negative stain on what was an otherwise fine offering all round.   

OVERALL
Waves offered plenty to sing about in a clinical, no nonsense buffet. Overall the food was fantastic and well worth the $55 I paid. A slight blimp was the lack of atmosphere and the flavourless prawns. I think I would visit a few more of the Gold Coast's notable buffets before returning to Waves. 77/100  

Amalfi Bistro and Wine Bar

Overall score: 75/100
Restaurant:
Website
Amalfi Bistro & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Restaurants attached to hotels/motels/any sort of accomodation really, often has The Chameleon scrambling for his urbanspoon app dreading the bland offerings from the limited menus and the overdone steaks (example here). But also recently, Bazaar was a very acceptable option; and not far from Bazaar was Amalfi Bistro and Wine Bar, attached to the Watermark Hotel and Spa.       

THE EXPERIENCE
Amalfi is a rather nicely fitted out restaurant at the back of the hotel. The Chameleon had in fact walked past it a couple of times prior to his visit wondering if they were open or not; you see the doors were closed, only a faint glimmer of light emanating indicating life and no doubt a few diners would bypass this for the buffet next door which is open and airy and somewhat more inviting (review to come soon). 

All this hidden-ness does have it's benefits though, as when The Chameleon entered, the place instantly made him feel at ease, relaxed and smooth. The dim lighting and the ambience music worked well, the large window opened the diners to the intermittent traffic outside, the car lights of the metropolitan bustle that is now the Gold Coast seemingly adding to the cosiness of Amalfi.

The Chameleon's group's waitress was young and showed glimpses of professional practice, but alas her inexperience did show through on a number of occasions, for example as she bumbled through some of the menu items. 


THE FOOD

The entrees of choice was carpaccio and The Chameleon opted for one of his favourite pasta dishes for the main, Linguine alla Carbonara, from a menu which somehow felt limited.

After a somewhat reasonable wait, the entrees arrived and were well received. The quail egg in particular was masterfully cooked and overall, it got the evening off to a reasonable start. The flavours were very subtle, perhaps a little bit too subtle and The Chameleon was expecting a little bit more for his money, but a great start nonetheless.

The group ordered wine and the evening continued swimmingly as they patiently began the wait for their mains. And wait. And wait. And wait. And then....wait. The mains took an unnervingly long time to come to the table, and although the group was cheerfully engaged in conversation, the topic did turn to the aforementioned waiting time; this should never happen. The Chameleon got to such a point that he began to wonder whether this was a deliberate ploy for diners to buy more wine and alcohol. It wasn't a particularly busy night, perhaps 4-5 tables with a few couples and his group. He wonders still.

The main was indeed very tasty. The carbonara ideal was there and that sauce, although somewhat oily, had beautiful undertones of rich creamy complex flavours. But, what was this meal's triumph was also it's diminishing demise. There was simply too much topping and, dare The Chameleon say it, too much meat! Typically The Chameleon is able to proportion out a meal to finish with one full mouthful, a bit like a special fulfilling ending to a movie, but on this occasion, all the pasta had disappeared with only topping left. The Chameleon was indeed glad when another diner made a similar comment which confirmed his thoughts. Balance.

The wine at this place was amazing. Great examples of somewhat expensive wine, but of course The Chameleon isn't a wine tasting critic, so apart from seemiongly fluking a nice dry match for the somewhat oily pasta, the deep cherry flavours which slipped out of every drop was well appreciated.


OVERALL
The Amalfi Bistro was a relaxing venue which The Chameleon appreciated after a hectic busy day. The food was of a high standard but alas the small entree, the long wait, the lack of balance in the main and the inexperienced waitress all impacted on the overall experience. Would The Chameleon recommend Amalfi? Only if you have time to kill and love a drop or two of fermented grape juice. 75/100

Firefly Cafe (Lunch)

Overall score: 83/100
Restaurant:
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Firefly Cafe on Urbanspoon

Urbanised, industrial, arty, hipster-y; everything a pretentious cafe should be and, in our capital cities at least, this is exactly what you get. But not in Toowoomba. No, in Toowoomba you get basic, utilitarian, uninspiring, dated; until you visit Firefly.    

THE EXPERIENCE
Located smack bang in the middle of the CBD, Firefly hides under an unnasumming, simple facade, and really the front of the shop is small and one could quite easily miss it. As The Chameleon entered this ostensible, albeit almost miss-placed for Toowoomba, cafe, his memories took him back to a place not so long ago down in old Melbourne town, a cafe just like this; warm, with a kitch twist like a cafe should. The decor here was well composed with French inspired chairs and wicked rustic tables. The walls adorned with what appeared like a nice batch of modern art and the colour scheme worked a treat. 

As The Chameleon approached the counter, a puzzling experience enveloped; there was no menu on the wall! Not even for the coffee! Intriguing start. Was this a part of the pretentiousness? Perhaps. Anyway, he asked the lovely waitress whether they were doing lunch and she promptly handed him a very uninspiring menu. Now, keeping in mind that this was lunch, and that Toowoomba has many many offerings of sub $10 lunches (i.e. the outstanding Phat Burgers just up the road) the menu read very high brow, some interesting offerings. The Chameleon however wanted some meat; it's what he had been consuming for lunch for quite some time, however Firefly is not the place to go if you are after a large, filling, protein based meal. And rightly it shouldn't be, after all, it is a cafe, not Hogs Breath Cafe. So summing up his options, of which there weren't many by the way, he ended up pointing to the "Roast sweet potato w pork belly & sugarloaf slaw" and hoped for the best. He also of course ordered a cap. 

The staff were very friendly. urbanspoon reviewers, some of them anyway, have complained of the lacluster service, the lack of smiles, making it sound all a bit Twilight. But this was not The Chameleon's experience; chirpy, friendly, warm staff, even asking how my meal was, and to top it all off, going to the extra effort of saying goodbye as he left, even though they were busy. 


THE FOOD
First the coffee. It was nice, quite tasty and very acceptable for a lunchtime pick-me-up. There was an added little touch that really impressed The Chameleon. Next to his cappucinno was a beautiful little heirloom teaspoon, all the way from France. Oh how this delighted him, to see just a little glimpse of style and international thought in this regional city. 

The main was outstanding. Well, it was rather sweet and the jus was very sweet indeed, but geez that pork belly was cooked to perfection. And the sweet potato was great too, the whole meal worked together like an orchestra performing at it's peak. Great work  Firefly. 

OVERALL

Firefly Cafe is perhaps the only 'real' cafe in Toowoomba. The air of elegance, of art and style, Firefly delivers an ultra-urban high-brow ambience which would see it fit into any of Australia's major cities, if not internationally. As The Chameleon gazed into busy Ruthven Street, shoppers inpatiently running past from shop to shop, he could have been sitting anywhere from Rome, to London, to Copenhagen. A few Hiluxes and Navaras quickly bought him back to reality, but alas, Firefly created the desired mood. The food was great, but a lack of options hindered. Should there be more options is perhaps a more pertinent question to ask, as this was a cafe after all. The menu presentation too needed some more thought, but perhaps the pretentiousness that one desires from a cafe has to surface somewhere. The Chameleon thinks they might be going for the "have your coffee and leave" type of attitude, but "if you are going to eat, then we will get that right". Not a bad effort Firefly. 83/100    

Sofra

Overall score: 83/100
Restaurant:
Website
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Sofra on Urbanspoon

On a beautiful balmy night The Chameleon had the delightful task of attending a work social function at Sofra, one of Toowoomba's highly rated restaurants and the city's only Turkish offering. To say that The Chameleon was looking forward to this visit is a bit of an understatement; urbanspoon consistently rates this establishment in the Top 5 for the Darling Downs Region. 

THE EXPERIENCE
Sofra is located on Toowoomba's well known Margaret Street and on this particular night, it was lucky that parking was not a problem, something that has detracted from the initial CBD experience in the past. Upon entering, perhaps with the preconceived notion that this place was going to be top class, The Chameleon instantly felt at ease. There was a certain warmth, an almost homely feel to the place, with colourful tablecloths, plenty to look at on the walls, and the exquisite use of timber throughout all added to a very well consummated experience. 

The Chameleon's group was seated upstairs on this particular occasion, which gave a a great view of the place, and allowed The Chameleon to perform his critique from a great perch. 

The waitresses were fine yet somehow uninspiring. It was a somewhat busy night and no doubt a few of the girls were just going through the motions. They weren't rude, they didn't make mistakes, but at the same time, there was no extra attention, asking how our meals were, etc. etc.; a stock standard experience. So, the wonderful decor of the place was offset somewhat by lackluster, albeit acceptable, hospitality. 

Also of note was the lack of ambience music. While the chatter of the customers did create some level of privacy, a little Turkish melody wouldn't have hurt. A slight mistake  none-the-less The Chamelon thinks. 

THE FOOD
Sofra excelled here overall. The Chameleon ordered lamb cutlets and man, they were outstanding! Although the presentation was somewhat lacking, that 'flame grilled to perfection' flavour came through in buckets, and the textures were just right. They were accompanied by two pieces of rather large flat breads, which were far too much and the meal presented somewhat thrown together on the plate, but none of this really mattered; the cutlets were THAT good. There was also a very tasty side dish of yoghurt, but the olives that came out were a bit hit and miss.     
    
Of particular note was the use of clay pots for some of the Chameleon's colleagues' meals and it's this sort of unique dining that ads just that hint of interest. 

The desert, strangely, worked very well by accident perhaps. The krem karamel had been burnt and this created a bitter edge. Typically this is a big no no; a bitter desert? But on this occasion, in the way this dish presented overall, the bitterness actually nicely offset the overly sweet, a balance if you will. Was this a mistake or is this the way this desert was supposed to be? The Chameleon needs to research further.

OVERALL

The highly successful execution of the decor and the quality food combined effectively at Sofra. The lack of ambience music and the so so service were a slight distraction, but not enough to really offset the overall feel. A must visit in Toowoomba. 83/100

Thai Royal (Delivery/Take Away)

Overall score: 73/100 (take away adjusted)
Restaurant:
Website
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Thai Royal on Urbanspoon

On this particular night not too long ago The Chameleon was feeling very lazy after a busy day's sleeking so the family opted for home delivery. Thai Royal in Centenary Heights poped up on the Chameleon's radar and they promptly ordered some yummy sounding fare and began to wait. And wait. And then....wait. The delivery took a very very long time to arrive, well past what one would deem reasonable. In fact, it was over 30 minutes past the time given to The Chameleon, making it a grand total of approximately 90 minutes. A long time indeed. Apology was received.    

THE FOOD

Having consumed a fair amount of Asian influenced take away in his lifetime, The Chameleon was ready to dig in and sample what this highly rated restaurant had to offer. Things started on a high; the Tom Yum seafood soup was outstanding! Great flavours, spicy (as it should be) and just the right amount of texture. A great example of this soup. A perculiarity did surface though; mushrooms. Floating. Kind of like puffy little boats swimming in an orange ocean. The Chameleon did not know whether this was to his liking, or, whether these 'floaters' could have been left off. I'll let the imagery speak for itself. Floating, grey mushrooms. Hmm.....

Things continued very well with chicken skewers. They were cooked just right and, for the first time in quite some time, a restaurant finally got the peanut paste right. It was crunchy, but not overly, just the way it should be. Well done on these Thai Royal.

From here, a downward spiral unfortunately ensued. It started with the Chicken Penang. While some positive flavours emerged, the texture of the sauce was all wrong. It was very watery and it showed through in the mouthfulls. Unfortunate. 

Following from here was a total disaster. The beef dish was very dry. A little dryness is tolerable, but this particular meal was just all wrong. The sauce had virtually seperated into two layers, a thick pasty top and very watery underneath. It was almost as if the pieces of beef were swimming around inside the container, with a slurry on top. The taste was OK but it was difficult to look past the present dryness. Again, unfortunate. 

The Chameleon must also note the rice, which was quite well done. It was on the sweet side, very sweet infact, but it worked very well with the curries. 
    
OVERALL

Thai Royal did some things very well and the Tom Yum was spot on, as were the skewers and the rice. The mains however were a disappintment. Perhaps a bit of quality control at delivery might have rectified this situation, as a simple shake of the containers could possibly have prevented some of the meal's shortcomings. 73/100 

Bazaar

Overall score: 83/100 
Restaurant:
Website
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Bazaar on Urbanspoon

Buffet dining, in a way, is admitting defeat. Let The Chameleon explain. Dining experiences are far and wide, and at different times of the day or different occasions, a suitable dining option is required. A buffet thus fits into...which one? The correct answer is of course all of them; it can offer options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dining for two, or 50. With a varied menu on offer from a basic breakfast bar, through to a full smorgasbord (which is very much what you get at Bazaar), The Chameleon has to wonder how right the food can be with such variety. And more often than not, his hesitation has proven correct with bland offerings that were not far off from Sizzler levels. He approaches with caution.  

The Bazaar however has changed his perception...somewhat. As you see, another dimension has entered the fold.     


THE EXPERIENCE

Bazaar is located inside the QT hotel, a glitzy venue but let's be honest, The Chameleon couldn't help but think back to any number of motels with a 'restaurant' attached and images of the Carousel began haunting his thoughts. These were quickly dismissed however, as when he slithered up the staircase he was greeted with a friendly staff member and instantly, he knew this was going to be a different dining experience. 

As he was shown to his seat, The Chameleon couldn't help but notice a glaringly obvious  fact; it was very very busy. So much so in fact, that you almost needed to pack a lunch just to get to the buffet section, traversing, if not climbing over and bumping into other guests along the way. This got to a point where The Chameleon at one stage got out of his seat, raised his little head high above the crowd and scouted out a route prior to his quest to get another delicious plate. So a piece of advice Bazaar: Bulldoze/redesign an entire level of your hotel to fit in more customers. Perhaps a trip to Sizzler for inspiration (not for the food). And while The Chameleon is having a go at your layout, it's noteworthy to add that you have tucked the actual business end of this dining experience into a nook! A nook for all those people! The Chameleon also suggests a police officer strategically placed to direct the flow of traffic. 

In all honesty, Bazaar is a wonderful place, very well decorated and a great dining experience albeit very busy and a little bit squashy, some design lacking. Perhaps initially the designers didn't think it would be this popular. 

A quick word about the staff; The Chameleon really appreciated the chirpy friendly nature of the staff here. Smiling, joking, catering to your specific needs is a refreshing change at a buffet. Well done Bazaar. 

THE FOOD
This buffet scores highly on urbanspoon, as well it should. The food, for a buffet, was outstanding. In fact almost all offerings would have gone down favourably in most dedicated restaurants and the variety naturally, was great. But it was more than that; the offerings included stuff like paella, on the spot cooked steak, dumplings, pasta, etc. etc. it was the way a buffet should be.

The highlight came as a surprise. The Chameleon ordered a freshly cooked steak and when he saw what arrived on the table, his heart sank. A piece of thin, flimsy slither of a beef sat, albeit very well presented on a wooden serving board, staring at him. Inside, The Chameleon cried. However, when he tasted what was supposed to be a rare steak, the flavour and texture hit him much like a wrecking ball hits a derelict building. It was superb! AND, even though it was so thin, it was cooked rare! This was by far the highlight, although the steamed dumplings weren't too far behind and let The Chameleon reiterate, this was at a buffet. The rest of the food was of a high standard, the only thing letting the culinary experience down were flavourless prawns, but there was plenty to offset this small mishap. 

A final note; the wine, while on the expensive side, was very nice and a great one on offer to diners.  
    
OVERALL

So this brings The Chameleon to an indifferent conclusion, a dilemma if you will. An outstanding buffet from the food perspective, the best ever actually. Offsetting this is the obvious by-product, a LOT of dinners and unfortunately, to such an extent that it was a significant annoyance. At a quality buffet, come people and come busyness. The cost too was high, something that entered the equation regarding the score. Something to think about Bazaar. 83/100   

Blue Edge Bakery (breakfast)

Overall score: 59/100 
Restaurant:
Blue Edge Bakery on Urbanspoon

Breaking the gastronomical drought in the mornings is one of life's simple pleasures; whether it's a piece of toast with coffee or a full blown all day brekkie,  you want to get it as right as possible. A bakery for instance, should allow you to do this, but on this particularly wonderful morning, The Chameleon was met with a slight drizzle of rain, rather than a full tzunami which he was expecting. 


THE EXPERIENCE

Blue Edge Bakery is smack bang in the middle of Bicheno, a small sleepy 'weekend holiday' town on the east coast of that wonderful state, Tasmania. It presents very well, welcoming, clean and neat, well spaced out, although a distinct lack of seating. This is a small hindrance to the experience, as bakeries are not typically eat-in places, but in Bicheno, it was virtually the only place open. 

The staff were friendly overall; there was a slight feeling of "let's get this order over and done with" but on this busy morning, it was understandable. And busy they were. During The Chameleon's time there, what seemed like at least a hundred people filed in and out, some staying for a meal, some picking up bread; the atmosphere on this morning was one of pleasant rush. 

THE FOOD
The Chameleon ordered one of the breakfast based menu items, the name escapes him. After a somewhat longish wait (although bearable), a well presented plate arrived. This initially pleased The Chameleon; a lot of bakeries simple throw food at the plate, but here, it presented nicely. 

The taste that followed was unfortunately unpleasant. Again, spinach, which The Chameleon loves soooo much, had absolutely no flavour! This is not the first time this has happened; spinach NEEDS something else. It needs an edge to match that wonderful wilted texture. Alas, not today.

The mushrooms too, looked great. As The Chameleon brought it up to his mouth and began to chew, an unpleasant sliminess emerged. It was rather strange; it wasn't entirely from the mushrooms; it came in the form of a lemon dressing which made the acidity over-bearing to the point that I wanted to call out the owner, but, The Chameleon does not complain (until the review of course). The whole meal in-fact was very soggy, including the cardinal sin of placing the toast in a way that it pre-soaked into a gooey mess. LEss than happy Chameleon. 

The highlight at The Chameleon's table was a sausage roll. It was a stock standard bakery style, there were the usual hints of seasoning that made it stand out from your typical take away offering. It was well executed and a total contrast to the main meal. 

Finally, the coffee was passable, but by no means outstanding. The cost was slightly on the expensive side for a bakery and, considering The Chameleon's plate, there was no congruence between the quality and the prices.
    
OVERALL

Blue Edge Bakery is exactly that; a bakery. The attempt at making a cafe style breakfast backfired on this occasion. Stick to what you know best Blue Edge: pastry. 59/100