Monday, June 02, 2008

Eating Out: PJs Pasta

727 Burke Road, Camberwell

Ph: 03 9882 1143

I decided before going to PJs on Saturday that I wasn't going to blog it. But after thinking about it, and chatting about it to a friend, I decided I'd write it up. But of course there are no pictures.

PJs is a favourite place of L and J when they're in town, so we met up, a party of five of us, at about 7pm on Saturday night. Water was provided for us all, then we were left to choose our drinks and food.

First up we ordered some bruschetta to share. A rather longish wait later an immaculately arranged plate arrived... with four tiny slices of bread topped with glistening tomato. Um... five people, four pieces... when we asked the waitress she said that that's the way it's presented, but she'd fix that. We said "yes, please". Another longish wait (but not quite so long as the first one) and another immaculately arranged plate arrived... again with only four pieces. We gave up. Aside from that, it was superb bruschetta - fresh tomato, crisp flavours - lovely. We cleaned it all up in no time.

Another long wait followed before our mains arrived, one or two at a time over the course of about 5 minutes. The menu offers a good selection of dishes, but I only saw a couple of vegetarian options. I ordered a chorizo and chicken with pappadelle in a creamy pesto sauce. The only thing stopping this dish being really good was the amount of chorizo - there was simply too much, and it overpowered the rest of the ingredients. I couldn't finish it all, but the boys cleaned it all up when they'd done with their meals.

DW ordered a linguini marina in what looked like a tomato-based sauce that was apparently quite nice, but she couldn't finish the meal. I was at the other end of the table so didn't see much of what it contained. Again, the boys cleaned up the leftovers.

J ordered Atlantic salmon on a bed of mashed potato and various other odds and ends from the specials board... I feel bad, I would have paid more attention to what everyone had, if I'd thought I was going to blog it! In any case, it looked great and apparently tasted the same.

D and L both ordered the veal shank. I wish I could remember what it was served with... I might ask D and update this later. Again, it looked great, and the meat literally fell off the bone. Both were most impressed with their meal.

After asking for the dessert menu twice we finally got a couple of copies, and would you believe, between the five of us we ended up ordering only two different desserts. D and I both ordered the apple, cinnamon and raisin pie. It came out with an artistic swirl of raspberry sauce (oh, sorry, I should say "coulis") on the plate, and a dollop of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. I'd been eyeing it off in the dessert case since we'd first walked in. And it was goooooood.

DW, J and L all ordered the New York baked cheesecake with an apricot glaze. J is a self-confessed cheesecake-fanatic, and even she didn't enjoy it. Apparently it tasted and felt more like a ricotta cheesecake, which would have been fine, but there was just something that "wasn't nice". The two ladies left plenty on their plate: only L finished his serving.

A round of coffees had been ordered and came out at the same time as the desserts. The coffee drinkers seemed happy with their brews, however the two of us who ordered hot chocolate with marshmallows weren't quite so happy... firstly, the marshmallows weren't there - but when we pointed out the lack of marshies to our waitress she quickly provided us with a small bowl of them. And, in a rather small cup, about half of it was froth. The remaining drink was lukewarm at best.

Overall it was a night of hits and misses... the bruschetta, the veal and the apple pie were hits. The waitress was also lovely. The number of serves of bruschetta, the amount of chorizo and the cheesecake were misses, as were the long waits. Don't get me wrong - I like to take my time over a meal, but only to a certain point. If the place had been packed I could have understood waiting a little bit longer, but come on - it's Saturday night! Surely you'd have to plan for that to be a little busier.

The total bill for 2 entrees, 5 mains, 5 desserts, 2 soft drinks, 2 bottles of red, 1 glass of white, 3 coffees and 2 hot chocolates came in a fraction under $240, which is pretty good value - more so if it had been a more positive experience. Would I go there again? Hm, probably not. Should you give it a go? Sure - there are plenty of things to try on the menu, and I did hear other diners saying good things about their food.

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