Hunter Valley Series- Absolute Thai

——-06/01/2012——-

Zoot alors, I have missed one! Sacre bleu, what is this?” 

I almost missed one! I had such an amazing time catching up with friends that I completely forgot that we ate! Hahahahaha! We especially chose Absolute Thai because of their elaborate  birthday   celebrations where the restaurant lights would dim, the staff come out with  flashy banners  that say ‘happy birthday’, the whole restaurant sings ‘happy birthday’ and the kitchen ends the song with massive flames from the wok! This is for EVERY birthday that night, so you may hear the song up to 4-5 times during one sitting. It wasn’t anyone’s birthday but two of my scheming friends thought it would be fun if we pretended it was one of our other friend’s birthday. SURPRISE! 

Now, back to the food!


Entree~

Thai fish cakes, spring rolls, curry puffs, fried calamari and moneybags- Despite being a large table and the restaurant completely booked out, our entrees still came out in a timely manner and nothing was disappointing.

Mains~

Chicken cashew nut & chili jam cashew nut, chili jam, capsicum, onion, shallot, baby corn and carrot

Good ol’ Chicken Pad Thai thin rice noodle, tamarind sauce, egg, bean sprout, garlic chive and ground peanut – I always use pad thai as the bench mark for Thai restaurants, it wasn’t fabulous and a little dry but it wasn’t the worst pad thai I’ve eaten either.

Steamed Curry Seafood in Young Coconut king prawn, fish fillet, calamari, mussel, red curry paste, coconut milk, Chinese cabbage, egg, kaffir lime leaves, basil leaves and long red chili

Homemade Curry freshly blended curry pastes on the premises 

Green Curry green bean, bamboo shoot, basil leaves, apple eggplant, zucchini and coconut milk – a slight zing to it but not overly hot.

Panang Curry capsicum, green bean, ground peanut and coconut milk 

Jungle Curry (Hot & Spicy)- green bean, bamboo shoot, mushroom, apple eggplant, basil leaves, green peppercorn, long red chili and lesser galangal – I was not brave enough to try this, especially when the green curry was hot enough for me, but my friend seem to enjoy it.

Massaman Curry Beef potato, onion, peanut, bay leaves and coconut milk – delicious tender beef and a nice sauce to mix in with rice.

No need for dessert, especially when everyone (else) knew about the cake.

Happy Birthday Aaron! 

Although we were a table of 9 we weren’t forced into a banquet and were free to order whatever we liked which I thought was really good. The service has definitely improved since it first opened in 2010 but it’s still rather quite noisy with so many people and live music inside.

It’s not the most authentic and delicious Thai I’ve eaten but it’s in a nice convenient location, decent priced food and a fun place to celebrate a birthday. But let’s face it, when you’re with good company, it doesn’t really matter where you are. 

Venue: Absolute Thai

Address: (across from Max Brenner) Shop L1, 1034 Charlestown Square shopping centre. 30 Pearson St, Charlestown NSW 2290

Phone: (02) 49437710

Opening hours: Lunch-11.30am. to 3.30pm. Mon to Sun.

                                    Dinner- 5pm. to 10pm. Mon to Sun.

Absolute Thai on Urbanspoon

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Hunter Valley Series- Euro patisserie

——-28/01/2012——-

Yet another late lunch (holidays are for sleeping in right?), my sister was treating me to some sweets and lunch @ Euro patisserie where I have eaten a lot of their delicious cakes before but have never actually been there.

The Euro has taken the cake for the second time winning NSW patisserie of the year for 2010/2011. When I walked in, I was like a kid in a candy store, everything caught my eye and I wanted to order one of everything!

First: lunch. We all chose a selection of pies (starting from the top left going clock-wise): beef and mushroom pieItalian bolognese with cheese, chicken and leek and Italian bolognese again cut open. 

Beef and mushroom pie– nothing particularly special. Italian bolognese with cheese– I liked the pie but if I had to judge it based on it’s name, I would have thought it would have been a more tomato based sauce and would have been disappointed. Chicken and leek- could have used a little pepper and the leek was very subtle, my sister usually goes for the delicious vegetable mornay pie but it had sold out.

 

Even though we had arrived after 2pm, business was booming and we were lucky enough to get a table. People were coming in and out and there were take-aways on top of that but lucky they had sufficient staff that you never waited long before being served.

With all the hustle and bustle we decided to take our cake home, it was cheaper (it costs $1 more/per cake to eat there) and I never eat my tarts with much finesse anyway. Mummy chose a fruit flan and I chose a strawberry cheese tart. Mum always has a knack for choosing the better cake, the fruit flan had a delicious custard while I found the strawberry tart base a bit too thick and the cheese filling wasn’t as nice as the custard.

 

I haven’t had a cake from here that has disappointed me, I don’t know how many pastry chefs they have at the back but I am very impressed by the huge amount of variety that they are able to have. Although I find their cake prices reasonable, we still only indulge for a special occasion, after all cake is a sometimes food

Venue: Euro Patisserie

Address: 68 Orchardtown Road, New Lambton, NSW, Australia

Phone: (02) 49 577188

Website: http://www.europatisserie.com.au

Euro patisserie on Urbanspoon

Hunter Valley Series- Open Dorz

——-27/01/2012——-

After a lazy morning, Mummy and I headed out to New Lambton for a late lunch at Open Dorz, a cute cafe where the sweet and savoury treats are made daily and the menu caters for those who want to dine in and those who are on the go.

Hmmm, what to choose…

Latte with complimentary home made biscotti.

Chicken, avocado, sour cream and cheese quiche ($9.00). Not your typical quiche which is a nice change and the combination of the chicken, avocado, sour cream and cheese is a real winner!

Chicken schnitzel with avocado, cheese, sweet chilli, mayo and lettuce sandwich($8.50)– it might seem weird to rave about a sandwich, but I truly enjoyed every bite! The thick fluffy white bread didn’t soften and squish under the heat of the delicious hot chicken schnitzel, the lettuce remained crispy and everything was really fresh with the perfect amount of sweet chilli and mayo.

 

Even just looking at the photos, I want another sandwich! I’ll try and go back when I’m next in the area.

Venue: Open Dorz 

Address: 71 Regent St, New Lambton, NSW 2293

Phone: (02) 49528854

Opening hours: Mon – Fri: 7:00 am-5:00 pm 

Open Dorz on Urbanspoon

Hunter Valley Series- and this little piggy had some steak

——-28/12/2011——-

So you might wonder why would I blog about a franchise that usually offers mediocre steak and often runs out of their slow cooked prime rib steak (which is weird because that’s why most people go there?). Well I’ve been disappointed many times with Hog’s breath cafe at various locations, but the beautiful new franchise positioned right on the Newcastle wharf, was not only the best Hog’s breath cafe I’ve been to, it was actually a really delicious steak.

Entree~

Hog Tail Fries El Grande served with warm cheddar cheese sauce and spicy Mexicana salsa ($6.50) These were so addictive and it wasn’t because I was really that hungry (did you not see what I ate at the Vintage cafe?) but I couldn’t stop pecking at these fries! I especially loved the cheddar cheese sauce.

Cheesy Garlic & Herb Bread cheesy garlic & herb bread topped with cheddar cheese and grilled to golden brown ($7.95) Not that garlic bread needs cheese (calorie wise) but it tastes so good!

Mains~

Prime rib steak in four ways:

#1: Calamari Prime Rib Tender Prime Rib topped with salt & pepper crumbed calamari rings and honey sweet chilli sauce (Lite Cut $26.95).

2#: Hickory Smoked Prime Ribreal Tex-Mex flavour. Seared and topped with a hickory smoked BBQ sauce on the char grill ($30.95).

#3: Hickory Smoked Prime Rib a real Tex-Mex flavour. Seared and topped with a hickory smoked BBQ sauce on the char grill (Lite Cut $23.95).

#4: Garlic Prawn Prime Rib flame-grilled Prime Rib and 3 pan-fried tiger prawns finished in a garlic & white wine cream sauce ($34.95).

The staff were attentive and polite, the only downside was that between our plates, drinks and condiments there was little room left for anything else. Hopefully they keep up their quality of food and service and I’d be very happy to come back again soon.

Venue: Hog’s breath cafe

Address: shop A2 1&2 Lee wharf, 7 Honeysuckle drive, Newcastle, NSW 2300

Phone: (02) 4927 8005

Opening hours: 11:30am- late 7 days

Hog's Breath Cafe on Urbanspoon

Hunter Valley Series- the Vintage cafe

——-28/12/2011——-

We were headed to the Vintage cafe to celebrate a joyous occasion and although I had lived in the area for over two decades, I had never been down this road where this tranquil picturesque golf course/hotel is tucked away. While were were all in a happy mood- the beautiful views, natural light and delicious food all just added to the delightful day. 

The website reads:

“Spoil yourself with a relaxing meal in our Vintage Café. Positioned on the terrace overlooking the 18th green, this casual relaxed dining experience is the perfect way to start the day or recharge your appetite over a light lunch. The Vintage Golf Club features an 18-hole Greg Norman designed golf course which has been ranked among the best in Australia. The 18-hole course measures 6,310 metres with a par of 71 and is the only Greg Norman designed public access golf course in the Hunter Valley and NSW.”

Bar snacks~

Grilled haloumi with lemon, oregano and diced tomato ($8.50)

Warm marinated local olives with ciabatta ($6)

Salt and pepper calamari with chilli salt ($9.50)

Grilled chorizo with chipotle sauce avocado ($8.50)

Chips with aioli ($7)

Grilled pita bread with smoked eggplant dip and feta and pistachio dip ($10.50)

Garlic and cheese ciabatta ($8.50)

Buffalo wings with chilli sauce ($10.50)

 

They also have an extensive wine and cocktail list.

Light meals~

Caesar saladcos lettuce, bacon, shaved parmesan, poached egg and sour dough croutons ($16.00) add chicken ($3.50)

Club sandwich- Roast turkey, ice burg lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, bacon and fried egg on toast and chips ($17.50)

Vietnamese beef salad beef grilled to medium rare with tomato, cucumber, watercress, red onion, chilli, garlic and vinegar dressing ($18.00)

Main~

Chorizo and garlic prawn fettuccine with olives, fresh tomato, chilli and olive oil ($22.00)

Eggplant and pecorino ravioli with asparagus, zucchini and basil pesto ($22.00)

Wine merchants steakminute steak of the day with wine merchants sauce and chips ($24.00)

Cheeseburger with a side of chips

Red duck curry with chutney, rice and tomato cucumber salad ($24.00)

Dessert~

Chocolate terrine with raspberry sorbet ($12.00) The terrine was very very chocolate-y and rich. Even with the three of us we still couldn’t finish it, the raspberry sorbet was delicious and refreshing though.

Panna cotta with biscotti and fresh mango ($12.00) The panna cotta was very smooth and creamy and was complimented with the mango. It wasn’t as sweet as the terrine and was easier to eat.

Although we were a large (loud) table, the food came out promptly and everything from the bar snacks all the way through to dessert was tasty and enjoyable. If you enjoy golf, a day spa or a delicious meal with a view, this is definitely the place to go.

The Vintage Cafe on Urbanspoon

Hunter Valley Series- Chocolate bar

——- later that night ——-

Well we weren’t going to stay around and have dessert at Brasserie88 especially while knowing that Chocolate bar was just around the corner. With quiet seating away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the club, Chocolate bar has chocolate themed decor and lounges to match the huge chocolate fountain at the front of the counter.

Cookies and cream ice-cream cheesecake with melted chocolate drizzled on top (because it really needed it   ).

Iced chocolate with whipped cream ($4.00) 

Belgian waffles

The waffles were nice and not overly sweet themselves. I wouldn’t recommend a drink AND a dessert unless you have a very big sweet tooth.

The ultimate chocolate Belgian waffletoasted Belgian waffle topped with sliced banana, marshmallows, strawberries, crushed nuts, whipped cream and chocolate fountain sauce ($12.50)

Strawberry and chocolate Belgian waffle– toasted Belgian waffle topped with cream, chocolate ice-cream and chocolate fountain sauce ($8.50)

 

Venue: Chocolate bar

Address: also inside the Wests club in New Lambton, 88 Hobart Road, NSW 2305

Chocolate bar on Urbanspoon

Hunter Valley Series- Brasserie88

——-27/12/2011——-

While I went home over the Christmas break, I did indulge in a few social eating occasions. Join me on my long over due ‘Hunter Valley’* series.

Located inside the Wests Club in New Lambton, Brasserie88 boasts delicious steaks and in a spacious casual dining setting.

*NB: the Hunter Valley and the surrounding areas.

Garlic bread (4 slices)- freshly grilled garlic bread ($6.50) For some reason, they can’t get this right, I’ve been here multiple times and the bread is never crispy and always cold to luke warm.

The Rattle Steakslow roasted 300g blackened primer rib dipped in our special blend of spices, chilli and breadcrumbs, fried til golden brown ($33.00)- it apparently had lots of gristle and my friend ended up scraping most of the ‘special blend of spices’ off anyway.

300g ‘Riverine’ Sirloin120+ day grain fed, South West NSW ($35.00)- Unfortunately my sirloin was hard to cut through (seriously my hands were getting sore) and the meat itself was rather chewy and had too much of a charcoal taste, I had to smother it in the hollandaise sauce to hide the taste. They are lucky that I really liked the hollandaise sauce!

Blackened Slow Cooked Prime Ribour prime rib is slow roasted for 18hours in our own special spices and blackened smoke marinade then seared on the char grill for an extra taste sensation (recommend medium). Because of the cooking nature of this steak, rare is not available. Due to popularity, this steak may not be available. This steak was much more tender than my sirloin, maybe I’ll get this next time. 

Nutmeat Wellingtonnutmeat, roast pumpkin, cherry tomatoes, basil, Persian feta and Swiss brown mushrooms wrapped in puff pastry and baked til crisp and golden, served with garlic mash, green beans and hollandaise ($24.00)- It was served luke warm and the pastry might not have been fully cooked all over but at least the mash potato was nice. I don’t know why you would want to order this in the first place when there is steak on the menu. 

Pork Ribletsfall off the bone pork riblets smothered in 88’s BBQ sauce with rustic chips and side salad with balsamic dressing ($27.00)- the ribs itself had no taste what so ever so you really had to smother it in sauce, which is a shame really because I really like ribs.

Complimentary sauces: salsa, hollandaise and smokey BBQ.

——- a few weeks later ——-

Why did I come back? Well if someone else is choosing the place and paying for it, you can’t exactly say no. 

Mornay and Kilpatrick oysters ($35.00)- The bacon bits were too big and the mornay should have been cooked longer to get that brown golden top.

Blackened Slow Cooked Prime Rib- Yes, it is not dark lighting, that’s how black my steak came out, it wasn’t all burnt, it was just black in colour for some reason. I had to cut and discard the charcoaled ‘border’ around the steak, which is weird because the middle was cooked medium. I think they were a bit heavy handed with the spices that they used and the mash potato wasn’t as nice as when my sister ordered the nutmeat Wellington the previous time. 

My sister’s steak looked better, it’s just a shame she didn’t finish hers.

Although the wait staff was polite and attentive, I wish the kitchen staff would pay more attention to the food that they are serving. I don’t know how many more times I can give this place a chance, hopefully I can convince my family to go to the Chinese restaurant next door instead next time. 

Venue: Brasserie88

Address: Wests New Lambton, 88 Hobart Road, New Lambton, NSW 2305

Phone: (02) 4935 1200

Opening hours: open every night from 4pm – 11pm

Members receive a 10% discount

Brasserie 88 on Urbanspoon