This month we felt it was high time we moved away from the leafy suburbs and into the industrial areas. People had recommended the Portuguese restaurant, Tinkabell in Upton Road, Ardbennie and we were happy to give it a try.
If you are not familiar with the area, please consult a map and watch out for the potholes. Though I guess this advice is applicable to all but the most recently repaired main roads.
Situated in a pleasant garden with a playground, the welcome was warm and immediate.
There was no printed menu — a white board with “Today’s Menu” offered starters of Giblets or Thai Prawn in Coconut: mains of Turkey Thigh, Chicken, Prawns or Kinglip. The was also a third course named “Desent” though the what came into this category was unspecified!
As there were no prices on the board, I asked the waiter, who was not altogether sure as he quoted differently when asked to repeat.
We chose to share some giblets as a starter.
They arrived in a curry flavoured gravy that had more of a packet type taste than anything you might find in an Indian restaurant.
This is not to say it was unpleasant — the giblets were soft and tasty and the above mentioned sauce was mopped up with the bread.
For mains we ordered ½ chicken and rice, prawns, and the kinglip. Though none of us fancied a $25 turkey drumstick so soon after Christmas, we were amazed at the size of one arriving at the next table and would like here to thank the kind gentleman who allowed us to take a picture of his lunch for the record!
The chicken, at $12, came with rice or chips and salad or veg.
One portion was pronounced pretty excellent and moist — the other was really dry. Fortunately the person it was served to announced that she liked dry chicken, so we did not have to make a fuss.
The rice was deemed fair enough and the salad was generous chunks of cucumber, tomato, iceberg lettuce and a few slices of onion and green pepper — or, in other words, nothing to write home about.
Why do restaurants not go to a little more trouble by adding a few herbs and the choice of a couple of dressings to simply turn something ordinary into something delicious? But no complaints again as it was “good enough”.
The prawns were enormous — the portion comprised six of the creatures ($20).
They were a little soft and, dare I say, not quite as tasty as their slightly smaller Mozambiquean brothers.
Is it not often the case that the larger of the species is not always the best? And again — nothing to complain about and they were enjoyed. Likewise the Kinglip ($20). It was moist and enjoyable but lacked that special quality you should expect from a $20 fish.
The seafoods came with either starch or salad — in our case rather uncrispy pale chips.
When the bill came we were surprised that both the prawns and the kingclip were charged at $25. (There was no mistaking the originally quoted price as I had recorded my conversation with the waiter.)
Why not write prices on the board to save the awkwardness of both diners and waiters?
Our waiter — very good in all other respects, had in fact given us more of an estimate than a quotation — maybe they do things differently in the industrial part of town!
The mistake was rectified and during the course of changing the bill, the price of giblets took a plunge in our favour and were finally billed at a reasonable $5 as opposed to either $7 or $8 — both of which had been quoted in the original conversation.
Although the changes were made without fuss, it is not a comfortable feeling to have to question the bill and we therefore strongly recommend that prices be clearly added to the menu board.
The bill for four people, including tip, for one-and-a-half courses and one drink each was $100. It was pleasant enough, but to my mind a little overpriced even taking into account that prawns and imported fish are luxury items.
Why, for instance, is a local beer (available for $1 in the shops) marked up a whopping 300%?
The food was enjoyed — but pronounced nothing special. Maybe we hit a post-holiday off day. I’ll have to give it another try — and let you know!
4Q Upton Road, Ardbennie. Tel: 077 453 2184.
Open for breakfast, lunches and coffee.