Koi Dessert Bar

This was the last stop of the day during our epic progressive foodie tour across Sydney CBD. We had booked Koi Dessert bar several weeks beforehand and we tried to keep enough stomach space to enjoy their famous delightful desserts.Complimentary bread and butter~

Set dinner ($77.oo pp)

first course

Eggplant

steamed eggplant, trout roe, eschalots and smoked eggplant broth

This arrived so quickly and the portion was so small, I had initially mistaken it for an amuse bouche. I loved the clean presentation but I found the broth’s harsh eggplant burnt taste too much like baba ganoush, which I’m not really a fan of.

second course

Quack

duck breast, micro green, cherries and cherry reduction

I loved how they cut the cherries in tiny little precise wedges; they made for gorgeous adorning presentation and provided just that little bit of sweetness to the duck. There was a good meat to fat to skin ratio, it was just a shame that it was all over in a matter of a few bites.

third course

Angus

Angus beef with wagyu bresaola, burnt onion and mushroom puree (cooked medium rare)

After my first bite, I thought I really enjoyed this course until I realised what I really like was the mushroom puree. We were all a bit disappointed as the duck course had set the bar high and the beef was hard to cut and a little chewy.

fourth course

Vanilla Cherry

vanilla mousse, frozen raspberry, blackberry gel, cherry slices and long pepper

Oh wow, I loved the way they presented the cherries. The mousse was super delicate and carried well to sweeten the flavours from all the fruit. Despite the presence of long pepper, there was only a subtle amount of heat. This was delicious.

fifth course

Typical chocolate

summer berries, chocolate, citrus and caramel. We were advised to start with berries and ending with caramel

It was no surprise that chocolate paired well with berries but I made a disgusted face when I bit into the burnt citrus; it was a very harsh flavour and I did not enjoy it. The caramel was a beautiful way to finish off the dessert though, I could just sit and eat that all day.

optional sixth course ($20.00) 

We were all super full from the day’s events but we weren’t one to miss out on a course even if it was optional. It was nice that they let us order one to share between the four of us.

Moss

pistachio mousse, caramel gel, white chocolate matcha dulce cremeux, pistachio sponge, matcha moss, apple blossom jelly, nitro lime and yoghurt and green apple

Many different components to this dish and I can’t say that I could taste them all even though I was careful to get a bit of everything on my spoon. The strong flavours to me came from the nitro lime, yoghurt, white chocolate and apple. I liked how the sour and sweet notes were subsided with the yoghurt and white chocolate.

seventh course

Cheesecake

lime cheesecake mousse, brown butter and shiso.

I loved who they made a well out of the cream cheese in this deconstructed cheesecake, I might use that idea if I ever try to recreate something similar. Like all of the previous desserts, this was not a heavy dessert that was OTT; they really understand the balance of flavours and textures.We felt a little up and down about the mains but when the desserts came out, it felt like I was eating at another restaurant. It was seriously next level! And although we had eaten four desserts, I never did feel like something was too sweet or heavy that I couldn’t finish it. I will definitely have to bring TimmyC with me next time I come.

Venue: Koi Dessert Bar

Address: 46 Kensington St, Chippendale NSW 2008

Phone(02) 9212 1230

KOI Dessert Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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On Flinders

I saw on Canberra food geek’s instagram that On Flinders does a mighty fine pizza, so when I found myself looking for dinner before an early movie, I knew where I wanted to go. I don’t go to Manuka very often but On Flinders’ name is pretty indicative of its location and it is right next to Public.
Pizza~ Monday – Saturday 12pm – 9pm  Sunday/Public holidays 12pm – 3pm
Flinders mozzarella, bocconcini, prosciutto and basil ($20.00). Finally, someone that understands that every slice should have all the ingredients and you don’t need to fight to the death for a slice that has a tiny bit of meat on it. This was a really good pizza, not the absolute best that I’ve had but man, double points for the generous toppings. It makes me smile that almost every bite I took had delicious prosciutto.
Basil and prosciutto on every slice and all topped off with lots of cheese. YUM!

The service was polite and efficient; just be mindful that they only make pizzas during certain times. I’m definitely going to be back to try more of their vast menu.

Venue: On Flinders
Address: 5 Flinders Way, Griffith ACT 2603
 On Flinders Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lolo and Lola November pop up dinner series

It was pointed out that Lolo and Lola have only done four pop up dinners since their humble beginnings and it dawned on me that I had been to three of them. I would stop hogging but it is so good; I am not willing to give up my seat!You really need to get yourselves to one of these events if you’re lucky and fast enough, December is already sold out and the next one is in February (now that is sold out also!) . Each month has a different theme and November’s dinner focused on one of the main islands of the Philippines- Luzon.Lolo and Lola November pop up dinner ($65.00pp).

It was hard to choose a favourite from the menu (apparently not so hard for some, TimmyC loved the crepes), everything was so different but at the same time everything was so delicious.
This is more of a food porn post as I have not seen any of the dishes repeated in subsequent dinners.
Tinapay ensaymada bun served with liver spread.Check out how fluffy that bun is and how beautifully whipped that butter turned out.
Lumpiang sariwa savoury crepe of sauteed vegetables served with soy-caramel peanut sauce.
Kinilaw Filipino ceviche: melange of seafood in spiced calamansi dressing.
Half time drinks: the taste reminded me of banana lollies.
Habhab “Lucban” noodle dish with chicken, vegetables and spiced vinegar. We were encouraged to eat this with our fingers, needless to say it got messy really fast.
Bicol Express tender pork belly and butterflied prawn in chilli-coconut sauce.
Caldereta grilled beef sirloin and vegetables served with rich “caldereta” sauce.
Ice scramble streetside ice blended treat topped with powdered milk and chocolate sauce.
Sapin-sapin purple yam frozen parfait, jackfruit leche flan, pandan sponge, toasted coconut and coconut “latik” caramel sauce.
Jay and Kim have always been wonderful hosts and they take great pride in their cooking. It has been so amazing to be exposed to the delicious flavours from their origins.
Good luck trying to get into their next dinner. I might see you there.
😉

 

The Cheesecake Factory – Hawaiian series 

When you enter a restaurant that has over 35 types of cheesecake, you try to decide what you want for dessert and work your way backwards. It was after 9:30pm and the wait for a table for four was still 20 minutes, The Cheesecake Factory is a very popular place to be!There is a takeaway counter for all those who choose to take a cheesecake to go.Don’t be tempted by their complimentary bread, it was unusually sweet but it takes up important cheesecake stomach space.Fried macaroni and cheese crispy crumbed coated macaroni and cheese balls, served over a creamy marinara sauce ($12.50). This was rather quite underwhelming and was rather bland, I wouldn’t bother ordering this again.Old fashioned burger charbroiled on a toasted brioche bun with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and mayonnaise served with french fries or green salad ($12.95). It is interesting that they add their salad separately because that is exactly how I prefer it. The thick beef patty was super juicy, the bread was just sweet enough and fries were served hot- all in all, a fabulous burger.Spicy chicken chipotle pasta honey glazed chicken, asparagus, red and yellow peppers, peas, garlic and onion in a spicy chipotle parmesan cream sauce. This was delicious! The perfect amount of spiciness and generous serve of ingredients but man, it was huge portion! Between the four of us we could not finish this.Quesadilla grilled flour tortilla filled with melted cheese, green onions and chillies, garnished with guacamole, salsa and sour cream with chicken. A tasty appetizer that we was nice and light, a good choice if you want dessert afterwards.The menu was HUGE, it contained an extensive list of everything from glamburgers to pasta to tacos and seafood. We all got a bit excited with ordering our mains and instead of getting four cheesecakes for dessert like we intended, we could only fit in a few mouthfuls of one slice that we all shared.

We weren’t going to be defeated again, so our subsequent visits resulted in just getting take away cheesecake. We were able to try 9 flavours in total, which included the fresh pineapple cheesecake that is only available in Hawaii.

  1. Key lime cheesecake
  2. Dutch apple caramel streusel cheesecake
  3. Fresh pineapple cheesecake
  4. Snickers bar chunks and cheesecake
  5. Ultimate red velvet cake cheesecake
  6. Mango key lime cheesecake
  7. Toasted marshmallow s’m0res galore
  8. Chocolate tuxedo cream cheesecake
  9. Chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake

Out of all the cheesecakes I had the pleasure of tasting, I really enjoyed the fresh pineapple and Dutch apple caramel streusel. I found that the less sweet flavours work best as it wasn’t OTT.This is a very busy restaurant all the time (there was a 45 minute wait at 10:30pm one time we stopped by) but it didn’t stop the service being friendly, efficient and attentive. For a place called ‘The Cheesecake Factory’ I was surprised that the main meals were rather good and that there were so many choices. If you do come here for a meal, remember to leave room for cheesecake.

Venue– The Cheesecake Factory

Address– Royal Hawaiian Center, 2301 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA

The Cheesecake Factory Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

returning to XO

It had been just over a year since I had last been to XO in Narrabundah and I was about eleven months overdue for a revisit. With a promise of fabulous company and new dishes on the menu, I booked for the next free day everyone was available.

Starters~

Shantung bao twice cooked pork belly with cucumber, pickled daicon and ginger ($8.00 each). It might seem steep to pay 8 bucks for a bao but it is worth every cent. The pork belly is a thick cut but very tender; the meatiness is balanced by the vegetables and the bao is super soft.

The baos are teeny tiny but mighty tasty.XO FC wings marinated in butter milk with kewpie mayo ($10.00). I love chicken wings and if you fry it, I will come! These were really crunchy while remaining succulent and I love mixing the mayo with their modified sriracha sauce.Steamed dumplings minced prawn and pork with spicy soy vinaigrette ($16.00). These were so delicious, we ordered another serve just before we started on desserts. A delicate steamed parcel in a beautiful spicy soy which made it very hard to share with other people.Small plates~

Vanella stracciatella dressed with tomato nam jim, granny smith apple, crushed peanuts and crispy shrimp ($18.00). This my friends….Was the dish of the night for me and that is a massive call since I also ordered Asian bolognese. To be honest, I didn’t pay attention to anything else on the menu once I confirmed that my old favourites were still there. TimmyC suggested we get this dish and I casually dismissed it aside allowing him this as his ‘one’ while I chose 5 other plates. It is difficult to describe this dish, it was a mix of stretchy cheese, different flavours and crunchy textures. You MUST order this!!! Asian bolognese stir fried udon in XO chicken ragout with a 60° egg ($18.00). This dish was the sole reason I came back to XO, I’ve been having dreams about this ever since I had it the first time. I think it is genius to use udon!Shallow fried tofu shallow fried tofu seasoned soy and candied ginger ($16.00). I can see how this was supposed to be a simple tasty dish with a ridiculously soft tofu but I found it underwhelming in comparison to the other dishes.Hiramasa Kingfish miso cured with pineapple relish, wasabi nori, spelt and freeze-dried raspberry. Kent was nice enough to treat us to one of their new dishes on the menu, this would have been $18.00. It was interesting to have the Kingfish served in cubes, the curing processing apparently makes the flesh ‘tighter’ and it gave the dish a very meaty feel. This is a dish where you have to eat all elements together; the wasabi nori had a kick but the pineapple made it very sweet and it seemed like we were eating a sushi without rice.Larger~

Prawn Kapitan spicy Nyonya style curry with wok fried king prawns ($34.00). The prawns were really fragrant and tasty but I was hoping for more of a sauce to mix into my rice.Crispy lamb ribs tossed in a sticky plum sauce ($28.00). A popular favourite amongst the table, it is a little messy to eat. Ditch the chopsticks and just use your hands.Sides~

Cauliflower nuggets fried with mixed spices and mint yoghurt ($12.00). I was hit with a strong taste of cumin which probably would have been offset by the yoghurt but the bowl got taken away before I could go back and smear some on.Desserts~

Chrysanthemum tea soft serve ($5.00). I knew when I made the restaurant booking that I wanted this for my dessert, I was just hoping that they still had it. Anyone that has had a chrysanthemum tea popper growing up, this is exactly that flavour in soft serve form. I encourage all those who have not tried chrysanthemum tea to order this, although I  don’t know if they still  have it on the menu because they have just released a watermelon szechuan and sumac soft serve yesterday.Black rice pudding coconut ice-cream, golden honeycomb  and lime meringue ($14.00). I love this dessert but I  was surprised to see that the desserts had not changed for a year. Chef AK explained for these popular desserts to be replaced, it would have to be just as good but he assures me that something is in the works.Pandan panna cotta gula melaka syrup and sesame tuile ($12.00). The panna cotta isn’t really sweet and all the sweetness comes from the intense syrup. The texture was super smooth which was a good contrast with the crunchy tuile.They might have turned down the volume dial on the music but they still play the music that I love. The staff was attentive and everything came out a timely manner.

One wonders why I’ve stayed away for so long but since the three days of not being there, they have already released a new soft serve flavour and there will be new dishes released in December. Looks like I’ll need to head back there ASAP.

XO Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hofbräuhaus

I was starting to sense a little self sabotage. Why is it after a day of feasting that I chose to eat German cuisine, which have such meaty substantial portions. I didn’t think that I was that full after our late lunch reservation at Dinner By Heston Blumenthal but after ordering all the bread/crumbed starters that I wanted to try at Hofbräuhaus, I was starting to test the limits of my stomach trying to fit in my main.

Like all good things in Melbourne, Hofbräuhaus is tucked down a little laneway near China town.Inside the Hofbrahaus is warm and inviting. Lots of large tables celebrating occasions or just indulging in the enormous sizes of beer that they serve, while a live band plays in the background which adds to the European tavern feel.

My friend ordered one litre of beer, that is possibly why he struggled to finish his main.Langosch Haus-made freshly baked and fried garlic bread, sprinkled with sea salt ($9.50). I would have loved some cheese sprinkled on top but they were still very moreish and were quickly devoured.Gebackener camembert crumbed baked Camembert cheese served with lingonberry compote ($14.50). You have to enjoy this while it is hot.Bretzel freshly baked Bavarian pretzel served with butter ($5.50).Kasekrainer traditional kranksy filled with cheese ($25.50). I love cheese kranksy and this was a good one! Even though I was very full, it didn’t stop me from finishing it with the help of TimmyC.Rindergoulasch traditional Hungarian-style beef stew on haus-made German egg noodles served in an iron pan ($29.50). My friend really enjoyed this, I think if you want a hearty meal without the huge chunks of meat, this is the meal for you.Knuspriger schweinbauch oven roasted crispy pork belly on braised red cabbage, served with bread dumpling, bier jus and apple compote ($39.50).Schweinshax’n huge Bavarian pickled roasted pork knuckle on a bed of sauerkraut and mashed potatoes with haus-made pork jus and German mustard ($43.50). A gigantic pork knuckle with all the trimmings. My friend didn’t finish this but he made a large dent.Bratwurst the classic world famous German pork sausage ($25.50).I really enjoyed the casual warm atmosphere of Hofbräuhaus and it was conveniently located in the city. There are a lot of places in eat in Melbourne but if you feel like German food, I would recommend coming here.

Venue: Hofbräuhaus

Address: 18-28 Market Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000

Phone(03) 9663 3361

Websitewww.hofbrauhaus.com.au

Hofbräuhaus Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Courgette

There is nothing more I can say about Courgette since I’ve blogged about it so many times; TimmyC and I always enjoy our visits here, even after all the restaurants that come and go in the Canberra dining scene.

Here is a collage of our last visit; even though it was in the middle of the week, it was a very busy night. We particularly enjoyed the Moreton bay bugs and surprisingly the venison.

Four course dinner ($88.00pp)~

– First course – 

In house smoked salmon, seared scallop, fennel sand, cauliflower puree, fermented black garlic

Sweetcorn croquette, heirloom tomato, bail pesto, green olive, toasted seeds

– Second course – 

Sauteed Moreton bay bugs, tomato, asparagus, cauliflower foam, chorizo crumb, petit herbs

Golden plains pork fillet and crispy jowl, miso mustard, celery fig salad, air dried black pudding

– Third course – 

Mandagery creek venison loin, truffled mash, baby spinach, red cabbage gel, port and thyme jus

Blue eyed cod and prawn sandwich, colcannon, bearnaise, salted baby capers, cornichons

– Four course – 

Baked hazelnut tart, coffee marscapone mousse, raspberry gel, dulce de leche, praline dust

Dropped cinnamon apple pie, vanilla bean custard, burnt apple ice cream, toasted oat crunch

Courgette also offer a 3 course lunch for $66.00pp, you should get there and see for yourselves why they keep winning awards.

Filipino Pop Up dinner series by Lolo and Lola

Yes! You read that right, Lolo and Lola are doing a pop up dinner series every month and I was lucky enough to attend their inaugural dinner last Thursday as their guest.

I haven’t been to Westside at night and I was happy to see that Lolo and Lola had a marquee set up with warm lighting, cute assigned seating and a menu that made me very excited.I am loving the penmanship.Adobo in four different ways pork, chicken, mushroom and snake beans. When I was browsing the menu, my eyes lit up when I saw adobo and in FOUR WAYS! It was hard to choose a favourite but being a big meat-eater I loved the pork and chicken, although the mushrooms were definitely a close second. If you have never eaten adobo, you need to change that immediately.Sinigang confit of salmon in hot tamarind broth with okra, radish and cherry tomatoes. This was unlike anything I had eaten before. The broth had strong sour notes which really made the tomatoes and radish taste very sweet, while the salmon seemed really rich and fatty without a strong fishy taste. As we ate the salmon, the broth became almost creamy and contrasting flavours weren’t as sharp.Inasal grilled chicken maryland marinated in garlic, lemongrass and vinegar with vegetable atchar salad. I could happily eat this for the rest of my life. The chicken was succulent with a fantastic marinade, while the punchy pickled vegetables kept it all refreshing. A real perfect balance of flavours displaying real skills from the kitchen.Kare-Kare Filipino stew of fork tender beef cheefs, honeycomb tripe and vegetables in annatto peanut sauce. The scaredy cat in me gave away most of my tripe but the happy girl who was enjoying everything so far kept a little bit to try, it had a really unexpected texture as it was super soft and reminded me of bone marrow. The description did not lie, this was definitely tender beef! Unsurprisingly, Lolo and Lola’s stews are always amazing.Check out how tender that meat is.Filipino fruit juice as a little refreshment between courses.Lechon slow roasted pork belly served with garlic liver sauce and petite pomelo salad. Lechon is definitely a must have dish when you have a Filipino event. The pork had a perfect crunchy crackle, the meat was succulent and it was a generous serve that defeated me towards the end. Having pieces of pomelo gave the dish a refreshing touch.Salabat brewed ginger tea with honey. This reminded me of a Chinese tong sui and took me back to my childhood and home cooking.  The tea was perfect on a cold winter’s night. As you sipped the tea, you could feel the tingle of a ginger ‘burn’ on your tongue and down your throat.Bibingka souffle interpretation of the classic coconut rice cake served with salted egg creme anglaise. Luckily we all had a different stomach for desserts and we had no trouble finishing this. I don’t love salted egg but the anglaise had just enough that you could tell it was salted egg without being overwhelming and I almost licked my shot glass clean. The souffle itself had a fluffy delicate texture that was a perfect end to a stunning dinner.

I can honestly say that I loved every dish. Kim from Lolo and Lola was describing how Filipino food is unpretentious and it really was just fantastic food with fresh ingredients and well-balanced flavours.

Since the first pop up dinner sold out in 1 hour and September booked out also, keep your eyes on their Facebook page for their upcoming dinners and get in quick!

Venue: Lolo and Lola

Address: Westside Acton Park, Container 20, 3 Barrine Dr, Acton ACT 2601

Facebook: Lolo and Lola by Waterhouse Bakers

Phone: 0412 929 780

Valley Grill

Some people found it odd that I went from Biota and Tetsuya’s to eating at my local Southern Cross Club at the Valley Grill with my family for my birthday, but what they didn’t know was that I was trying out their new menu to eat a beef cheek that I had been craving since Peppercress shut their doors.

Since the closure of Peppercress, some of the menu has been adopted down stairs at the casual dining area of Valley Grill. It is family friendly (it even has a kid’s gaming area), has decent prices and can cater for big numbers.

Mains~

Char Grilled Camden Valley Chicken Breast succulent corn fed chicken breast, marinated with oregano and garlic and served with Tassie thick cut chips, tossed green salad and a creamy mushroom and brandy sauce ($24.00).
48 Hour Braised Wagyu Beef Cheek rosemary and thyme marinated Wagyu beef cheeks gently braised in red wine and served with Parisian mash, sautéed mushrooms, smoked bacon and a red wine jus ($27.00).It is still the tender ‘meat cloud’ that I remembered it to be. I was worried that there was be a slight variation between transferring this cuisine downstairs but they didn’t disappoint. Yum, yum, yum!
Vegetarian Mediterranean Strudel char grilled farm fresh vegetables, halloumi cheese and baby rocket pesto in a filo strudel, served with tossed salad leaves and tomato couli ($20.00).
Porcini mushroom risotto porcini mushroom risotto served with crispy sage leaves, toasted pine nuts and freshly shaved grana padano cheese ($20.00). I almost got food envy when I got to try this. It is a creamy, rich and cheesy risotto that is definitely a winter warmer.
Chicken schnitzel premium chicken breast schnitzel rolled in Panko breadcrumbs and served with Tassie thick cut chips, tossed salad leaves and fresh coleslaw ($19.00). We were shocked to see that the schnitzel didn’t come with gravy (!!!), so we had to ask for some before we started eating. It was a nice succulent piece of chicken but I prefer traditional breadcrumbs on my schnitzel and a thicker gravy.
Chicken Parmigiana premium chicken breast schnitzel rolled in Panko breadcrumbs, topped with Napoli sauce and cheese. Served with Tassie thick cut chips and tossed salad leaves ($21.00).
Even though I was eating from the new menu, it seemed like everyone else chose their meal from the more traditional club menu. Everyone generally enjoyed their dinner but I preferred the new additions to the menu over the club favourites.

Seriously, the plating was a bit OTT, I found the ridiculous pots holding the salad and chips almost as useless as a deconstructed coffee (see more ridiculous plating here). It made the mains look very small in comparison and they were very hard to eat out of.

Sure, this isn’t fine dining on the south side but there are food good options for those who are dining with large numbers or lots of children and no one wants to do the dishes.

Venue: Valley Grill

Address: Southern Cross Club

Access: A member needs to sign you in

Phone:  (02) 6293 7200

Valley Grille Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Casey Jones

It might seem like an odd statement to make considering I live on the other side of town but I have been waiting for Casey’s gastropub Casey Jones to open since before they started building the shops. I was lucky enough to be invited to a preview event and they showed us everything! A kitchen tour, the fit out of the whole funky place, a sneak peek and taste of their breakfast menu, mains, snacks, dessert as well as their wicked cocktail and mocktail menu. If the preview is anything to go by, Canberra hold onto your metaphorical hats, you’re in for a real treat!I really like the set up; it is really spacious, the tables which are made from old railroad sleepers are gorgeous and in the summer time there is opportunity to extend dining and perhaps a beer garden outside. I think open area near the bar is going to be versatile for functions and large groups.Next up: the staff. We had an opportunity to catch up with all the staff including owner Josh, maître d’ Sorrel, head chef Abel and head barman/mixologist Jamie. Each and every one of them were all very passionate about what they are doing and what they want to achieve here at Casey Jones. Their commitment and talents are showcased through their fabulous service, delectable food, awesome drinks and amazing atmosphere.

Jamie gave a few cocktail making demonstrations and even though I don’t drink, even I was tempted and sampled some of his champagne cocktails, affogatos, cocktails and a large range of his non-alcoholic spritzers.

That is a lot of beer on tap!How pretty are the champagne cocktails!I would be tempted to order the affogato instead of dessert! This was incredible.You should try one of their signature cocktails Casey Jones smoked maple bacon and cherry infused old fashioned ($24.00). It will sure to impress with the added theatrics when it is served, plus it comes with  a strip of delicious maple bacon. YUM!
Salted caramel espresso martini with vanilla foam ($18.00).Their espresso martini smelled so so so good.Mocktails: I had had my fill of alcohol for the night and wanted to test Jamie’s skills with non-alcoholic beverages. We got a large variety and it was hard to choose a favourite between the raspberry + basil, lemon + pineapple spritzer and virgin passionfruit mojito. They were really really really good (I’ve had a fair few non-alcoholic beverages in my time). Blood orange spritzer was our least favourite because it wasn’t as sweet as the others which might suit some.Now onto more important things: the food. We naturally started with breakfast and progressed our way through the menu. I am very much a savoury girl but even I swooned over the pretty sweet options. We were lucky enough to try these with compliments of the establishment but I have included prices for your reference.

Breakfast~ starting from top left- clockwise.

Chia seeds, organic quinoa, almond milk bircher, compressed and fresh fruit, seeds ($14.00). A healthy start to the day begins with this bowl of superfood which is sweetened only with fruit.

Sourdough, local poached eggs, Pialligo award winning bacon or smoked rainbow trout, pickled red cabbage, aerated hollandaise ($18.00). These were bang on perfectly poached eggs and I’ve never had Pialligo’s smoked rainbow trout but now I’m wondering where has it been all my life. This was my pick of the breakfast dishes that we sampled but I have my eye on their egg and bacon roll (milk bun, award winning Pialligo bacon, fried eggs, ranchero relish, Iberico cheese $14.00).

Ancient grain sourdough, local poached eggs, avocado, fennel, garden kale, dukka, grana padano ($18.00). Between running around taking photos and trying to eat as much rainbow trout as I could, I completely forgot to sample this one. Ooopsie!

Citrus hotcake, pickled rhubarb, compressed honeydew, organic maple syrup, macadamias, pistachio ($16.50). I had to double take on the hotcake as I thought there were multiple, no this was one thick fluffy hotcake with a delicious crusty exterior. Upon reading the description, I wasn’t sure how this one was going to taste. Call me a traditionalist, but I like my pancakes with ice cream and maple syrup but I am glad I tried this because the Pepe Saya’s mascarpone cheese with the compressed honeydew made this my very close second breakfast choice during the preview event.Snacks~ starting from top left- clockwise.

Cherry Cola chicken wings, scallions, sriracha aioli, celery (8 pieces $15.90). Okay, confession time. I had read their menu well before the preview event and my heart skipped a beat when I read about this dish. Don’t be put off by the name, despite having Cola, housemade cherry jam and also cherry Cola, this dish isn’t sweet at all; instead they are sticky, moreish and definitely not for sharing. Order a plate each. 🙂

Chorizo, onions, kiss peppers, garlic, chilli ($14.00). A nice flavoursome chorizo balanced out by the onions and peppers.

Homeleigh Grove olives, orange, thyme, assorted petite bread ($10.90). The olives were great and the bread was served piping hot, but I felt that the bread either needed a good EVOO or butter.

Crispy spiced okra, smetana, dukkah, lemon ($12.00). This was a surprising favourite. We don’t get much exposure to okra except for overcooked ones in curries but this reminded me of zucchini flowers but with a different texture.Mains~

Belly of pork, fennel, apple, watermelon, mustard fruit, watercress ($23.90). I really enjoyed the pork belly which had the right amount of meat to fat ratio, but I don’t think this portion would have filled me as my main. I prefer my pork belly with a side of cauliflower puree but the fruit keeps the whole dish light and refreshing.‘Po Boy’ charcoaled brioche, crispy soft shell crab, sriracha aioli, pickled sesame slaw, coriander, hand cut potatoes ($22.90). Everything was perfect about this Po Boy. The brioche was soft and had a striking appearance, the crab was crispy without being oily and the sauce and slaw was the perfect accompaniment on the bun. This was a very close second pick from the mains.Gumbo, prawns, vongole, calamaretti, pork sausage, chilli, okra, black barley ($24.90). I haven’t had many gumbos in my life and it isn’t a dish I usually gravitate towards but the smell was intoxicating and the broth had lots of depth. We should have saved some bread to mop up the bowl.Salad of burrata cheese, romesco emulsion, heirloom carrots, beets, radish, black salt ($20.90). A very picturesque plate with beautiful root vegetables on showcase but the star for me was that cheese.Wagyu rump, onions, cauliflower, mojo verde, aioli, smoked butter ($31.90). We almost broke out into a fight at the table as I was willing to duel anyone for this dish. The wagyu meat was so tender and so flavoursome, it didn’t really need anything else at on the plate, although I did love watching the generous amount of butter melt all over. I would happily come back and order this again and again and again. This would be awesome with a side of fries.Dessert~

Citrus panna cotta with a berry sauce and chocolate soil. I really enjoyed the texture of the panna cotta, it passed the jiggle test and it was perfectly smooth. I found it disappointing though that the sweetness only came from the compote and the soil. We gave feedback that the panna cotta needed to be sweeter.Cakes~

One of the first things to catch my eye was that gorgeous cake cabinet. My pick would be that mango/orange cake on the bottom left hand side.I thinkI think it is incredible with what they have done with the space, menu and drinks out in the suburbs. I really enjoyed their food and them using Pepe Saya, Pialligo Estate products, Three Mills Bakery bread and Gunning Bumnut eggs is just a bonus!

They will open tomorrow morning at 7am for breakfast and with their highly anticipated opening, I hear they are booked out this Saturday and Sunday. 

Venue: Casey Jones

Address: 15 Kingsland Parade, Casey, 2913

Phone: (02) 6253 8961

Bookings: They have a handy booking system on their website

Websitehttp://caseyjones.pub/

Opening hours: 7 days a week starting from 7am
Casey Jones Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Katers restaurant 

We had just booked our accommodation in Bowral when I saw the Groupon voucher that was an absolute steal for Katers restaurant at Peppers Manor House. The deal included three courses and a bottle of wine for $85.00 for two people.

We were slightly amused with our waitress. She was an older woman who didn’t seem too fussed that the restaurant was really busy and had a very blasé attitude about everything as she casually pottered about.

Groupon voucher: three courses and a bottle of wine for $85.00 for two people, but I’ve written the prices from the menu.

The white and red wine options that are included in the Groupon voucher.Complimentary bread and butter~

The bread was served warm and there was plenty of butter, the perfect combination!Amuse bouche~

Rockmelon with goats cheese, ash and prosciutto. When I asked our blasé waitress about where the prosciutto was, she simply shrugged and said she would ask the kitchen but she never came back with an answer.Entrees~

Seared scallops and Rodriquez spiced chorizo, roasted cauliflower puree, squid ink meringue, coriander oil ($24.00). These scallops were much plumper than the ones we had at lunch and it has been a while since I’ve had such delicious scallops. The chorizo was also very nice, while the puree really help meld all the strong flavours together. We were very happy with our entree and were quite excited for what was to come.Confit quail terrine, toffee parsnip, spear, watercress, cumin ($23.00).Mains~

Pan seared duck breast, kumara, hazelnut crumble, cherry glaze, whiskey coffee gel ($40.00). My friend joked and asked where the rest of his carrots were as they mostly appeared to be the tops. I jokingly replied that they were on the lamb dishes.Maugers lamb back strap, braised baby leek, roasted garlic crushed, roasted Kipfler potato, eggplant caviar, chilli fig, rosemary jus ($39.00). I was really disappointed with the portion sizes; there was just two tiny pieces of lamb for almost 40 bucks, I’m glad we came in with a voucher. Marseille bouillabaisse, today’s market fish, cold water langoustine, scallop, saffron rouille ($40.00). I loved the intense prawn head flavour throughout the soup base and it had nice meaty seafood textures to compliment but it is these same aspects that made my friend not like her main. It goes to show each to their own.Desserts~

Chestnut bitter chocolate torte, raspberry egg, espresso and hazelnut ice cream ($21.00).Lemon panna cotta, rhubarb foam, coconut parfait, lime cannoli ($18.00). This had way too much gelatin in it, we could tell from the moment it was placed down in front of us with its stiff movement.Blood orange and almond pudding, lychee sorbet, pomegranate ($21.00). We had to remind the waitress that this dessert came with lychee sorbet and she rushed back into the kitchen to have it added.Toffee apple tea cake, camomile  ice cream ($18.00). I liked how the cake looked like a cross between a toffee apple and a real apple but made the cake very messy and difficult to eat. The cake’s sweetness comes from its sticky toffee coating which was balanced by the ice cream.House cheese: aerated Manuka honey blue, lavender Bergamot, rosemary and thyme labna, local Camembert, local goat’s cheese, selection of breads and crackers ($26.00). The last cheese platter I ate/stole from was amazing (see my post here) but I left most of this on the platter. I found some of the cheese bland while some of the other cheeses were pungent, especially the goats cheese.We definitely got our money’s worth considering my three courses was more expensive than the voucher for two people. The food quality was okay, but definitely nowhere near the calibre of which they had advertised to be (it is supposed to be a hatted restaurant by the Australian Good Food and Travel Guide). It was a shame because they started the night off so strong with our entrees.

I think everything sounded really fancy on paper but the execution missed the mark and therefore the prices are too high for the actual food quality. I wouldn’t come here again considering there is so much good food around the Bowral area.

Venue: Katers restaurant

Address: Kater Rd, Sutton Forest, NSW

Phone: (02) 4860 3102

 

Katers Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

MoVida – Melbourne series

Okay, most people plan their interstate trips to do multiple things but TimmyC and I came to Melbourne (this time) to specifically eat at MoVida. TimmyC’s trendy cousin was generous enough to buy me a voucher to the MoVida group but because the other restaurants were not open yet since the New Year holidays, we booked a table for 3 at the original MoVida.Complimentary~

Warmed bread with olive oil. Always a happy surprise when a restaurant gives you delicious warmed bread for free!I loved their personalised wine glasses.
Tapa~ I love the thought that these morsels were made so well, individually portioned and reasonably priced; it didn’t matter if no one wanted to share with me, I could just order one for myself.
Yabbie special ($9.00 each). I thought this was a refreshing morsel but nothing really specifically unique. It was good to have at the beginning of the meal before the heavier, deep fried tapas arrived.
Queso quince paste cigar with whipped goats milk cheese ($4.00 each). I’m not particularly fond of goats milk products but that didn’t stop me from ordering this just to see how it would taste. I liked it so much I convinced the rest of the table to order another just to taste it. The outer quince paste cigar was surprisingly crispy and provided a nice contrasting texture to the whipped filling. The goats milk cheese wasn’t too strong but it was perfectly balanced out by the sweetness of the quince. You definitely have to try this; there were so many surprises in one mouthful.
It looks so simple and small but there was a lot of flavour in this tapa.
Flamenquin crumbed pork with jamon, thyme and mahon ($5.50 each). These were perfectly crispy and jam packed with pork. I was very tempted to order more of these, but I got too full in the end.
A delicious peek into the crispy croquette.
Fish croquette special ($4.50 each). These were very ‘fishy’ which I loved, it was a nicely seasoned filling with a crunchy non oily exterior. 
Raciones~
Carrillera De Buey slowly braised beef cheek in Perdo Ximenez on Cauliflower puree ($28.50). Oh where to begin while describing this fabulous dish. The beef was amazingly tender and pulled away effortlessly as you put a spoon through it. It had a beautiful sweet stick glaze all over which worked perfectly with the cauliflower. Don’t even get me started on that puree, it was so smooth, it was like a thick soup (and I could have easily drunk it like soup). I would order this again in a heartbeat.
This photo doesn’t do it any justice.
Patatas Bravas fried potatoes with spicy tomato and mayonnaise ($16.00). The smaller pieces were fine but I thought some of the potatoes were too big and therefore the ratio between crispy exterior to starchy fluffy filling to be way off. It definitely wasn’t what I was expecting and since the rest of the meal had been so spectacular, these potatoes couldn’t compare.  Barramundi special ($27.00). The fish was soft and moist while the asparagus was cooked perfectly allowing the fresh flavours to really shine through. It was nice to have a lighter main among all the deep fried tapas and heavy meals.
Desserts~
Churros Spanish doughnuts with rich drinking chocolate ($12.50). The doughnuts were really crunchy on the outside with a fluffy texture in the centre and it was paired with what was truthfully named a ‘rich drinking chocolate’.
Flan crème caramel with pestinos ($15.00). This was so smooth and creamy, making it very easy to eat.
Pan con chocolate chocolate, bread and olive oil ice cream ($14.50). I wasn’t convinced by the description on the black board that this was the dessert for me. It wasn’t until I asked our waiter which the best dessert was; he then smirked and asked me if I was asking for the best dessert in his opinion or the most popular dessert ordered (which we rightly guessed was churros). I obviously wanted the best dessert and for something interesting against the ‘norm’, he then suggested this dessert and to ignore the very poor description on the board. What came out was fabulous. A warm soft chocolate cake encased in a crispy bread sandwich, which gave it a wonderful contrasting texture while the olive oil ice cream helped balance out the sweetness of the chocolate. As we were leaving, I told our waiter that they should really change the description because it didn’t really do the dessert justice.
I love how they have presented the ‘sandwich’ standing up on its side, it gives you a clear view of the crispy bread encasing a warm moist chocolate cake.
Check out the sexy chocolate cake sandwiched inside.
Even though we were eating on a dead line (6pm- 8pm booking) we never felt rushed and despite the restaurant was completely packed, the service and food was very prompt and the staff were very friendly and helpful. I would love to come back to try more of the menu or even the other restaurants. I loved the small tapas for individual portions at a reasonable price (take note Canberra restaurants) and that there were good variety of mains available.
The famous graffiti on Hosiser Lane which is opposite the lane way to the MoVida restaurant.
Venue: Movida
Address: 1 Hosier Lane, (off Flinders St), Melbourne, VIC 3000
Phone: (03) 9663 3038

MoVida Bar De Tapas Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cibo 

After a decade of trading under ‘Peppered Prawn’ in the Woden town centre, the owners have decided to do something a little different and have revamped the restaurant with a new look, new menu and a new name – Cibo.Meze/small plates~

This is why you bring friends along, you get to try more of the menu.Arancini fried risotto balls filled with porcini mushrooms with napolitana sauce, fresh basil leaves (3 for $16.00). I noticed the ‘holes’ in the arancini as soon as they  were put down in front of us. I found that the risotto mixture was too sloppy to make a perfect arancini ball without it crumbling. The interior was nice and salty with a district mushroom flavour but I was hoping for a more cheesy filling.Crispy prawns lightly battered, golden fried, served with lemon wedge and lemon mayo (4 for $16.00). Despite being favoured by the other guests that I was dining with, I was impressed with the size of the prawn but I didn’t think there was anything special about this dish.    
Burek baked handmade layered pastry filled with ricotta and feta ($10.00).I didn’t get much of the filling in my bite but I really liked the flaky pastry. Not really made for sharing, I would just eat one myself next time.Zucchini puffs with tzatziki (5 for $14.00). Not really memorable in comparison to the other dishes but they weren’t oily which I admired.Kobasice thin spicy semi smoked pork sausages simply filled with ajvar ($12.00). I really enjoyed these as I found them to have lots of flavour in the sausages, although I was not a fan of the ajvar as I could taste a light bitterness from capsicum skin. This was my favourite meze plate of the night.More substantial~

Pappardelle fresh ribbon egg pasta, traditional slow braised veal and pork bolognaise, grana padano ($22.00). I was very tempted to order this as I love pasta. I found that the sauce to lack some salt and found it overall a bit bland but the pappardelle pasta was fresh and was fantastic.
Pork skewers marinated with garlic, lemon, oregano, olive oil with spanish onion, tomato, tzatziki and pita (2 skewers $26.00). I don’t usually see pork skewers as an option on a menu, but these had a lovely char-grilled flavour whilst remaining succulent. It seemed like a complete meal because it was served with a small salad and bread.
Chevapi char grilled skinless sausage made of veal and pork, with spanish onion, feta and ajvar (300g $22.00). The chevapi was nice on its own but it was the perfect balance of flavours when you added a bit of onion and feta with every bite. Again I found the ajvar a bit bitter so I avoided dipping the meat in it. I thought as a main, it was a bit sad that this didn’t come with some bread or a simple salad to balance out the heaviness of the meat.
Sides~
Bowl of chips ($10.00). Unlike the skewers, the chevapi sausages were served on their own and it was suggested to get a side of chips or bread to balance out all the meat. I thought the price was a bit steep for chips but fortunately they were delicious because of their crispiness and seasoning.
You can’t tell from this angle, but the bowl was pretty deep.
Pita ($4.00). This bread was warmed which quickly turned cold and brittle. I think $4 is a bit steep for one pita bread, I should have just borrowed some from the skewers plate, but they said that they made it on site so I was curious to try.
Something sweet~
Gelato panna cotta, white chocolate and raspberry, salted caramel ($10.00). I really liked the salted caramel gelato over the other flavours but TimmyC really enjoyed the panna cotta, it goes to show each to their own.
Palacinke Balkan style crepe filled with Nutella served with bon bon rocher gelato ($10.00). I felt that this ‘crepe’ was too thick and since it was presented in a rolled cigar, it made it feel even thicker, heavier and too sweet in one mouthful. If it was even slightly thinner, it wouldn’t feel as doughy in one bite.
Krofne European donut filled with raspberry jam and icing sugar ($4.00 each). This reminded me of a Nanna’s frozen jam doughnut, but fresh. The sweet centre was at a good ratio to the doughnut so it wasn’t too sweet, the doughnut itself was nice and fluffy in texture. These are made in house and they are definitely tasty when they are fresh.A soft fluffy pillow encasing some delicious jam, that’s how I would describe this dessert.
We found the staff very friendly, knowledgeable and efficient. It is nice to have a restaurant concentrating on Mediterranean cuisine in the area. I would come back and try more unique dishes I couldn’t get normally in other restaurants.

 

Venue: Cibo
Address: Sky Plaza Apartments, 98 Corinna Street, Woden Town Centre, ACT 2606
Phone: (02) 6162 0122

Websitewww.cibokitchen.com.au/ << they have a handy online booking system

Kong BBQ – Melbourne series

I had heard great things about Kong BBQ and it always intrigued me that the Lucas group’s band of restaurants did so well (Kong BBQ, Chin Chin, Baby Pizza and now also Hawker Hall) but yet were so different. I heard all of them were hard to get into but Kong BBQ was our best bet. We left our name with the waitress and told her we were happy to wait for a table, we were told we would receive a sms when the table was ready and we had 10 minutes to come back and claim it.

I was enjoying a lovely mocktail from the Royal Saxon when we got the sms. I quickly sculled the rest and headed to Kong BBQ before they gave away our table.Kong apple and cinnamon iced tea ($6.00). TimmyC and I found the cinnamon a bit OTT but it was cooling and refreshing on a hot summer’s day.Bao~

Spicy pork belly with pickled cucumber and Kong crazy horse chilli ($7.00 each). Despite the description, this bun filling wasn’t really spicy so don’t let the name stop you from ordering this. I loved how the pork came in two separate parts: one is the tender pork belly with striations of fat and meat while the crackling, which is served separately and delicately laid on top of everything, was super crunchy.Fried chicken with spicy corn and edamame salsa ($7.00). The chicken must have been just fried, placed in the bao and served straight to me because it was so hot and fresh. I really enjoyed this bao and it was possibly my favourite pick (pork was a close second but the chicken had a better filling to bao ratio).Soft shell crab with salted duck egg relish and coriander ($8.50). I was surprised to see the soft shell crab was so small, the tiny legs meant that there was a lot of batter and I found it more oily than ‘meaty’. Not worth the higher price, I would stick with pork or chicken. BBQ soy chicken wings with sesame and spring onion (6 pieces $12.50). I found these overly sweet and as much as I love chicken wings, I think the sticky marinade over powered all the senses.BBQ baby back pork ribs with soy and sesame (half 300g $22.00). I found the same problem with this as I had with the chicken wings, the sticky sweet salty marinade was over powering and you couldn’t taste the pork meat at all, although the meat itself was very tender.Bossam – BBQ Cape Grim black Angus sirloin bulgogi marinated with walnut ssamjang, kimchi and lettuce ($29.00). I have a habit not really reading all the menu, take exhibit A. I read that there was Cape Grim beef, I wanted it so I ordered it. So I was some what surprised when this arrived and the server explained to wrap the beef in the lettuce with the condiments like a sang choy bao. As much as I wanted to like this, I did not like the marinade and the beef was oddly dry and chewy in some parts. The only saving grace of the dish was the walnut ssamjang.Oh Cape Grim beef, why were you not as delicious as I wanted you to be?Fried rice with kimchi, beef brisket and egg ($16.00). I love a good fried rice, there is little ingredients so there is nothing to hide behind. This was amazing. Not a strong kimchi flavour but everything combined: hot rice, kimchi, beef and the runny egg yolk was the perfect combination. I would definitely order this again!BBQ zucchini and spice crusted silken tofu salad with soy vinegar dressing ($17.00). While ordering so much meat, I start to feel guilty that there was little vegetable content so I ordered this from the ‘greens’ section of the menu. It wasn’t what I expected but this surprisingly was one of my favourite dishes of the night. The tofu was ever so delicate covered in a thin crispy batter which paired well with the refreshing BBQed zucchini.Look at that beautiful tofu.This place was packed and clearly popular with the Melburnians and I can see why. We waited happily at a trendy pub down the road for almost 45 minutes for our table and when we came back, it was busier than before it that was possible. I would probably steer clear of meats with heavy marinades and stick to the baos, fried rice and accompanying dishes.

It can get pretty noisy in here with all the people, not a romantic date place.Dishes arrived when they were ready but the spacing between dishes were pretty close together; our table filled up very quickly.Food came out almost instantly from the kitchen so kudos to them for getting the orders out so well despite being ridiculously busy. The waiters were really friendly, attentive, and knew what they were doing which really helped with the efficiency of things, although towards the end they did start packing my plate away while I was still eating the bao above it and we felt a bit rushed to leave.

Venue: Kong BBQ

Address: 599 Church Street,Richmond, Melbourne, VIC

Phone: (03) 9427 1307

Websitewww.kongbbq.com.au/
Kong BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Temporada re-run

With so many new restaurants coming out and so many good existing ones, I rarely would go out of my way to go back to a place where I found it mediocre but I’m always up for second chances. I didn’t love Temporada like everyone else did when it first opened but it has been a few years so maybe things have changed. TimmyC was keen to go back because we had such fond memories of their beef rib sliders.

We were seated at the bar which meant lots of table space but the seats were uncomfortable and towards the end of the meal, TimmyC and I ended up standing up while finishing our meal. 

 

To start~
House-made sourdough and cultured butter ($2.50).Their bread was delicious but the butter was definitely the best part. Order this when you sit down, then it will be perfectly timed to arrive when you have just finished ordering the rest of the meal.
Wood grilled pippies, saffron and chorizo ($20.00). I found the sauce to be most addictive to eat and I resorted to dipping my bread in it to get every last drop. Unfortunately the sauce and really salty chorizo probably drowned out the natural taste of the pippies.
BBQ King prawn, bourride ($9.00 each). TimmyC’s prawn came out of its shell rather easy but I found mine was stuck to the shell which made it really difficult to eat. I got a lot of ‘burnt’ taste in my mouth from the charred legs as I resorted to pulling the prawn meat off with my teeth. The prawn meat itself was sort of sweet but I didn’t enjoy this dish.
Zucchini flower, spanner crab, lemon ($9.00 each). These don’t look like much but they came out piping hot without being oily and they were delicious. Definitely my top pick of the smalls plates that we tried.
Filled with crabby goodness.
Wood grilled dry aged 500g T-bone, smoked potato, pink peppercorn, leeks ($45.00). TimmyC always jokes that T-bones are a ‘private steak’ for me because I like to pick up the bone and get every last bit of meat, but this was served pre-cut which meant for easy eating and sharing. The steak itself wasn’t anything special and I was hoping for more butter and smooth texture from the potato.
The steak wasn’t amazing but it was cooked perfectly.
We still weren’t overly impressed with the food but more importantly our bums were super sore from the seats, so we decided to pay the bill and head somewhere else for dessert. My friend who was also there having dinner that night was coincidentally sitting at the bar next to us, eventually she got a sore bum too but her party of two really enjoyed their duck main and would happily come back again. I guess it depends on experiences and the food that you order, but I won’t be in a hurry to come back again, maybe if they get beef ribs sliders back on the menu.
We sat near the kitchen entrance so it was easy to flag down staff when we wanted a water refill etc, the food wait time was very minimal and it was fairly busy by the time we had left.
See my previous post about Temporada here.

Temporada Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato