Monday, August 30, 2010

Christopher's Cake Shop - Mascot

Christopher's cake shop

I've always had trouble with pronouncing 'Baklava' and hence, I will typically just refer to those yummy turkish sweets made of pastry and nuts (yummiest is pistacchio or caschew I think :P) and drenched in syrup.

On one awesome occasion, my partner bought over a WHOLE TRAY of Baklava from Christopher's cake stop (medium tray - $18.50).


Layers and layers of filo pastry, which are extremely moist and light, with lots of chopped almonds... all super soaked in syrup. Omgosh - it's sooooooo rich and really rather super sweet. Well worth the calories or whatever you're comsuming.

Christopher's also have lots of other cakes and slices and my partner swears that the Tiramisu is absolutely awesomeness! Guess I need to go there and try again one day :)

Food - 8.5/10
Service - ?
Ambiance - ?
Value for money - 8.5/10
Overall - 17/20

Christopher's Cake Shop
1213 Botany Road
NSW 2020
tel: (02) 9667 0300

Cafe Aroma - Burwood

Cafe Aroma

Where to eat in Burwood? Well, when with my parents, something Chinesey was on the menu. Cafe Aroma was chosen, even though it was a bit of a trek from Westfield.

I remember that the food here was pretty decent, but the first thing that got my attention when I sat down was - wow... prices are pretty pricey for a honky style casual cafe! We're talking around $15-19 ish for a set meal (soup, main and coffee/tea) which is pretty sky high compared to other honky cafes.

The drink I opted for was an iced coffee with tea. This was really really delicious. Super coffee infused, and ice cold. YUM. I could drink this all day!

iced coffee with tea

We also ordered a hainan chicken rice. The chicken here was really really smooth and tender. There was a nice layer of jelly under the skin of the chicken. You could almost slide the chicken in your mouth and down your throat. Mmm... The rice here is less fragrant compared to other places, but it is also less oily. So may be healthier but also slightly less tempting. And the soup? Just normal.

Hainan chicken rice

The baked pork chop fried rice was covered in tomato sauce. The pork was tender and the tomato flavour was rich as. Although not ovened til golden brown, atleast it was ovened enough for the cheese to melt. Not overlly awesome, but it was decent.

Baked pork chop rice

So whilst not the cheapest nor the nicest looking place, the food here is definately decent and yum.

Food - 8.5/10
Service - 6.5/10
Ambiance - 6.5/10
Value for money - 6.5/10
Overall - 28/40

Cafe Aroma
232 Burwood Rd
NSW 2134
Tel: (02) 9747 4611

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cadbury Dairy Milk - Bar of Plenty

It's good to come home to chocolate delivered to my home. Especially chocolates that I've never tried before. New to the Cadbury dairy milk range are the "bar of plenty" varieties.

The 'Berry Fruit, Vanilla Shortcake and Chocolate' comprises of red berries (I think they are cranberries) with bits of shortcake biscuits. It's a little bit new and a little bit odd... Not sure if it's my cup of tea but make up your own mind about it! :P

Berry fruit and vanilla shortcake

The other new flavour is the 'Roast hazelnut, honey roast cashews and chocolate'. This is very nutty chocolate and isn't too different from normal cashew nut chocolate. One difference though - the honey made the nut feel toffee-coated ish, adding extra crunch to the nuts. So this bar tastes yummy but its not overly too new or too different.

Roast hazelnut and honey roast cashews

So, it's always good to be able to try new chocs and this choc bar is available in stores pretty much everywhere now (or atleast soon to be).

Monday, August 23, 2010

Grace Brasserie - Sydney

Grace Brasserie

So the Viva Sydney card was offering 2 for 1 breakfast deals at the Grace Brasserie ($32 per person). Pretty awesome. Afterall, who would not want unlimited buffet breakfast?

There was a good selection of hot foods, musli/cereals, fruits, breads and danish/pastries. Pretty amazing. Eggs are also cooked to your liking, being scrambled, fried, poached, omeletted - anything really.

This was my selection - creamy creamy creamed eggs, slightly ordinary hash browns, average chicken sausages, bacon, herbed potatoes and mushies. And my poached egg was ..... YUM. And unlimited amounts of this...? perfection! :)

The watermelon was delicious and juicy and my partner LOVED the yoghurt.

Other fruits (i.e. pineapple and melons) were also very delicious. And of the selection of pastries and danishs, my chocolate croissant was YUM. Flakey on the outside and chocolatey yumminess on the inside.

Yoghurt was so good that my partner decided to musli and yoghurt it as a last round.

As it was just breakfast, there was only so much food our stomachs could stomach. Unlimited breakie is definately a good start to my morning. But don't rely on their coffee. Hint: when you sit down and they ask if you want coffee or tea, say you don't want any and instead, diy at the espresso machine. :)

Food - 7/10
Service - 6/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 27/40

Grace Brasserie
The Grace Hotel
Corner King and York Streets
Sydney, NSW 2000
Tel: (02) 9272 6636

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Restaurant Balzac - Randwick

My partner and I had been meaning to try out Restaurant Balzac for a while. A long long while. However, being a typical Gen-Zer where everything is in 'whateva/wheneva/doesn't matter' mode, we had somehow managed to put off visiting this restaurant during the whole 6 years I was studying down the road (at UNSW). Instead, we make the trek back to familiar country - and was running a typical 15 minutes late (we did have the courtesy to inform them) - only to be met with a rather flustered wait staff on the phone telling us about how busy the restaurant was BUT he guesses he can hold the table for us.

Guesses? Well, service was not starting off well. In fact, as we were seated, it took around 15 minutes before we were presented with the menu. But I guess the guy wasn't lying. There were soooo many people and rather loud voices were echoing off the sandstone walls. A shame really, as the ambiance (if it were quieter) was a romantically soft-litted room with comfy seating, albiet a bit too close to the next table.

Anyway, we opted for the degustation ($95 per person, $140 with matching wines), but I really really wanted to try the chocolate fondant here and so we changed it (with a surcharge of $10). My partner decided against the matching wines for this meal and instead, asked what beers were available. The waitress kindly said that she will return with an extensive beer menu - only to never return with it LOL.

Restaurant Balzac

For a French restaurant, the bread was pretty dissappointing. Almost (but not quite) as bad as Italian bread. White and wholemeal was offered but the soughdough was a bit too tough (not soft and warm and awesome like how French people normally do their bread), and the crust was definately not crusty. We did get a heap of yummy spreadable butter though.

sour dough with creamed butter - white and wholemeal

The starting canape for the night was a cube of pressed corned beef with a parmesan Gougere (french savoury choux pastry puff) with precisely dotted mustard drops. The corned beef was done nicely. Stringy soft tender salty tasting beef was complemented almost perfectly by the drops of mustard. Not sure if I liked the cheesy puff with the beef, but the elements separately definately did wonders. The cheesy puffs were alright, and they reminded me of those we had at Taillevent (which were really omg awesome).

pressed corned beef, parmesan gougere

For the amuse bouche a tiny cup of Jerusalem artichoke veloute was offered. TEmpting to down it in one go, but why would you not want to savour the moment? It was sooo smooth and soooo creamy, kind of just melts down your throat. The truffle bits on top didn't do too much for it though. Personally, I think that people are only obsessed with truffle because of its rarity. Make it common-field and no-one would really care about too much.

Jerusalem Artichoke Veloute with Truffle Mousseline

Next dish was just as awesome. Ocean trout done four ways. The two on the edge were cured and the two in the middle were smoked. The trouts were accompanied by fennel, spanner crab, lobster bits and other things that I don't quite remember as the waiter who introduced it spoke really really quick. Whatever it was I was eating tasted amazing! The smoked ones bought with it more of a flavour explosion but the dish as a whole was very refreshing and delicious.

Cured and Smoked Ocean Trout with Fennel and Spanner Crab

The onslaught of good food continued with the dory. The steamed dory was accompanied with a pea and spring onion emulsion, a bit of spring oniony buttery foam, peas on the bottom and strings of deep fried salt and pepper cuttlefish on top. This was soooo good. The spring onion buttery emulsion was to-die-for. Tasted soooo good, must be extremely bad for you. The fish was well cooked. My partner said that it would have bought a bit more omph if it was grilled, but personally, steaming the dory meant that the texture was smooth and soft, the sauces matching perfectly and bought good contrast with the deep-fried cuttlefish.

Mirror Dory, Pea and Spring Onion Emulsion with Salt and Pepper Cuttlefish

Next came the scampi and pork. Lightly grilled and lightly salted scampi was subtle and light yet delicious. The pork belly had super soft tender meat with crunchy crackling. And in the middle of this was the cassoulet of suckling pig. The tomatoey bean stew with salty tasting bits of suckling pig, deep fried basil and some crumbling of some sort was definately my partner's type of dish.

Scampi and Pork Belly with a Cassoulet of Suckling Pig

There was a choice of two mains. My partner opted for the roasted rack fo lamb with lentils whereas I chose the short rib of beef. The lamb was a nice pinkish flavour but my partner said that he's had better. My beef on the other hand ... WOW. Falls off the fork, melt in your mouth goodness. The bordelaise sauce with the beef was sooooo good, it must have been doing some kind of dance in my mouth. Sooooo tender and sooooo succulent. The parsnip fondant and the bone marrow accompaniment (which I usually would have loved and savoured) were readily forgotton and overshadowed by the loveliness of the beef. YUM. More please :)

Roast Rack of Lamb with 'Petit Sale aux Lentilles'

Short Rib of Beef with Sauce Bordelaise and Parsnip Fondant

After the main came our pre-dessert. This was a shotglass of blood orange jelly with spiced panna cotta, almond puree and crunchy toffee on top. First bite into this and I was like... hmmm... not sure I like it. The blood orange was intense. The spice kick came on a bit too strong. But you know what? After the first bite and your palate has a bit of time to recover from the intensity that comes from this small shotglass, the flavour grows on you. I found that I actually finished off the whole thing in no time.

Blood Orange Jelly with Spiced Panna Cotta and Almond Puree

The dessert on the degustation was the poached meringue with bay leaf custard, rhubarb cubes and blackberry swirls. The whole thing reminded me of the snowegg featured in the Masterchef finals. The caramelised toffee substance on top provided perfect crunch. You could tap tap tap on it all you want. The meringue was soft and airy and some fruity substance lived in the middle. It was better than I had expected.

Poached Meringue with Bay Leaf Custard, Rhubarb and Blackberry

Nonetheless, if the two desserts were to compete for my liking, my chocolate fondant would win hands down. Supposedly the best chocolate fondant in town, it was pure indulgence. Warm and soft, with a gooey spewing out chocolate center. It was deliciousness and accompanied with peanut brittle sprinkles (but with banana >.<), and porter icecream. I could have 2nds and 3rds of this anyday!

Chocolate Fondant with Peanut Brittle, and Porter Icecream

Last but not least, our coffees with petit fours. Don't know why but Sydney coffee just isn't quite there... As my partner says, Sydney coffee has the art (as Sydney-siders are about appearances?) and Melbournian coffee is about taste (as Melbournians are about quality?). LOL Ok - maybe I am just biased, but why does Sydney coffee lack that smoothness that coffee ought to have? Petit fours-wise, the mini raspberry macaroon was good. The meringe was airy light yet crunch comes from the outsides and the creamy middles were just that - creamy and sweet. The chocolate truffle was really awesome and dark and smooth and everything! Good finish to the night I think.

Coffee and Petit Fours

So all up, this busy busy restaurant did well food-wise. Almost every dish was immaculately executed, delicious tasting and temptingly presented. Service-wise could be upped a bit. Slightly noisy but that's not really the restaurant's fault. And as for price? So much awesomely done food for less than $100 is pretty good (and even better value when you have the entertainment book).

Food - 9.5/10
Service - 7.5/10
Ambiance - 8/10
Value for money - 8.5/10
Overall - 33.5/40

Restaurant Balzac
141 Belmore Road
NSW 2031
tel: (02) 9399 9660

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Super Choice Buffet Restaurant - Auburn

So we were driving one night and we decided spontaneously that we felt like going to a buffet because we hadn't been in a long while. Being on the M4, the closest RSL buffet to us was Auburn - and so to Auburn RSL's Super Choice Buffet we went!

Being a Saturday night, price for an adult was $22. Saturday night was also seafood night and omgosh - there were SOOOOOO many people. And sooooooo many people were asian and even I (being asian) felt a little overwhelmed.

Anyway - variety was good at this buffet. Lots of seafood, fast food, deep fried food, yum-cha food, roasts food etc etc etc. There was also a special section which was "manned" for most of the night. This was the place where there was crab, XO vermicelli scallops, stir-fried garlic shoots, and crispy salt and pepper prawns. Next to this area was also shark-fin soup (with very limited sharks fin ... but still nice). The seafood wasn't 100% awesome, but it was decent.

The food here was plentiful up until probably around 8pm. So if you were thinking of coming here for a late dinner - don't bother. They start packing up not long after 8. The food was decent in general, but close to the end of the night, things got a bit fishy. For instance, deep fried scallops became deep fried seafood extenders in scallop shapes, and deep fried calamari rings were.... umm... some sort of chickeny mix??!?!?!?!

Notice that there's no shots of desserts. No dessert was noteworthy to actually eat, much less photograph.

shark fin soup
XO scallops

one of these was deep fried scallop - one was deep fried seafood extenders in scallop shape (and so were subsequent ones)
my calamari rings were... umm...non-calamari???

Mmm... so I guess, for seafood - it's decent. Cheap ish. But come early! But arrange a different place for dessert!

Food - 6.5/10
Service - 6/10
Ambiance - 5.5/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 25/40

Super Choice Buffet Restaurant
Auburn RSL
33 Northumberland Rd,
NSW, 2144
Tel: (02) 9643 9800