Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Ahh..the Buddha Belly, a favourite of the Happy Blogger and family. Not only a restaurant it is more a lifestyle choice! Set between a beautifully serene Japanese Garden and Koi Pond, and an array of Nurseries (including Bonsai where you can even do classes), and beautifully presented Asian style retail stores, all located in a Balinese style village. Turning off the busy Mona Vale Road at Terry Hills, you arrive at the small carpark, lined with palms. If you look carefully, you will see the carved archway which is the entrance to the Buddha Belly Restaurant. This is an authentic Balinese style pavillion, open air style with no walls, simply lush plantings and stone or wood carved statues forming outdoor rooms amongst the palms. You would think this is a restaurant more suited to summer weather - not so! The outdoor aspect is exceptional, in Summer and Autumn but even though today was a chilly Winter day, with the plastic sheeting rolled down, and the heaters turned up, you could still enjoy the view and ambience without any bother. Now, as I mentioned, this is a favourite with my family as the staff are pleasant and more importantly, child friendly - a must for hassled parents trying to enjoy their meal without bored and naughty children to entertain! For the kids, the first things they are drawn to are the many statues - we make sure we rub the Buddha's belly on the way in for good luck. They also really get a kick out of the fact that most of the tables have you sitting overlooking a beautiful waterfall and Koi pond, and only a rope separates you from it. As you look around at the balinese style buildings, you are transported to another world and that is totally intriguing for them. For older kids, it is fine to let them wander over to the imperial garden to get a closer look at the fish and to explore as it is all within view (and shouting distance!) of you at your tables. Children love this place, they just need to make sure they don't throw any of the white pebbles into the pond, or feed the fish. Some of these Koi are 40 years old and as thick as your arm! They used to rake the beds of white pebbles into wave patterns, but I think it was too much to ask for the kids to keep off..so we noticed they were more "free-form" today. Today, my son and I were having a quiet brunch. We started with a Chai Latte for me, and a Milkshake for him as we made our selections from the menu. I was sorely tempted by some of the other choices, especially a "Marraketta" which is a short black with caramelised chocolate and milk, or a "Honey Affogato", or even a "Little Darlin" which was a layered macchiato with vanilla syrup but decided on my old favourite for today. As we are regulars, there will be plenty of time to work my way through the coffee menu on each visit. My son decided to have the Buddha Belly bacon and egg roll with hollandaise, capsicum and chilli relish, with a side of chilli mushrooms. This arrived on turkish bread and went down a treat! This was an adult sized meal, but there were kids choices as well. I decided not to have my usual Pancakes with Berries and Ice Cream, or Eggs on Sourdough, instead I had a Nasi Goreng with fried Egg and Chilli Jam! Wow..it was great! Filling! Warming on a cool day, but just a little too "hot" for my son..so I had it all to myself! After that, we couldn't fit any more in, so decided to slip out for a walk around the garden. The Lunch and Dinner menus are really interesting Asian Fusion style meals with lots of seafood choices (Barramundi, Mussels, Salmon, King Prawns to name a few), and I can highly recommend the twice cooked Duck with Coconut Rice, Asian Greens and Citrus Chilli Marmalade as I've sampled this on a previous visit! Mains are around $26-$30. Also, the Green Tea Noodles with mixed herb salad is a winner (you can have this as an entree or a main size). Entrees are $15-$19. The wine list is also quite diverse, and they even sell the locally brewed "Lucky Buddha" beer which comes in a fantastic, Buddha shaped green bottle (again, sampled on a previous visit). On weekends it is necessary to book, even on week days, it is a popular lunch spot for local groups of women. As the location is suitable for wandering and shopping for homewares, jewellery and garden supplies, it is a drop in spot for families over the weekend, so keep this in mind when visiting. Today we were lucky, early brunch on a week day, we had the best seat in the house! The waitress told me before I left, that in the 8 years they had traded at the site, they had never advertised. All of their business was from "word of mouth" which says a lot. Great to see that it can sustain a good local business..visit and see for yourself. Happy eating!