Saturday, April 27, 2013

Thanh Binh - Cabramatta

I don't know what made us do it,but one day after church hubby decided to drive to Cabra for lunch. Cabra is far far away from us (ok... not THAT far) but relatively further... and I have to admit, every time I'm in Cabra, it makes me feel excited - it's like I'm in a whole different city! For lunch this time, we picked a modest looking popular place - Thanh Binh. They have a sister restaurant in Newtown, but this must be the more authentic one... maybe.

The majority of the patrons already eating had these massive portions of sugarcane prawn to put into a DIY rice paper wrap ($18). Yup - definitely want a bit of that! Crazy big portion. Super tasty. The sugar cane, which was caramelised, was so super sweet - had to eat if even if I looked like an idiot chewing on this long browned/blacked thing.
sugarcane prawn DIY set
my efforts in making a rice paper roll :)
Hubby wanted the same thing but with spring rolls inside. It took quite a lot of convincing and pointing to make hubby understand that there was no freaking way we could order two portions of these DIY rice paper sets. Like - NO WAY we could ever finish it. In the end, we compromised and ordered an entree portion of the spring rolls ($10) from which he could put into the rice paper rolls anyway.
spring rolls - entree size
And who can go into a Viet restaurant without ordering their yummy super sweet super strong iced milk coffee? Definitely irrisistable :)
iced milk coffee
We also had an entertainment book voucher for this place so we ended up leaving this place clutching a super full stomach and all smiles :)

Food - 8/10
Ambiance - 6/10
Service - 6.5/10
Value for money - 7.5/10
Overall -  28/40

Thanh Binh
52A John Street
NSW 2166
Tel: (02) 9727 9729

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Vicinity - Alexandria

Remember that Saturday where it was absolutely bucketing down? Well that was the morning that my friends and I decided to meet up for brunch at Kepos St Kitchen. For a table of 6 on this miserable day, we were informed that we needed to wait 1.5 hrs. In torrential rain? Nope - we were not waiting. Instead, we decided to give Vicinity - the large restaurant on the corner of Bourke and Collins St a go - thinking that they'd have more room for the 6 of us. And we were correct - not only was there a table waiting for us, there was also undercover parking, perfect for the occasion!

We had, unfortunately, missed breakfast - so we were given the lunch/dinner menu. It didn't look too over-appealing for our unbreakfasted stomachs, but we all managed to choose something anyway. Coffee first - just average. Nothing special here.
One of my friends and I opted for the fish of the day - crispy skinned barramundi with squid ink pasta, sweet potato, cauliflower puree and mussels ($24). Apparently cooked in their wood fire grill, the skin was crispy and the fish was cooked quite well. The cauliflower puree was tasty, as was the blackened pasta. Not a bad dish.
fish special of the day - barramundi
One of us chose the meat of the day - which in this case was the slow cooked chicken, finished off in the wood fire grill, smoked eggplant and sweet potato puree ($24). Unfortunately, this was not as spot on as the fish. My friend said that the chicken was cold and slightly tasteless.
meat special of the day - chicken
Another friend opted for the pork belly ($28). Big juicy looking slab of pork belly with crispy skin, morcilla, romesco, fennel and orange salad. No complaints from her about the dish - nor were there amazing praises.
pork belly
My hubby got talked into sharing the 38hr cooked lamb shoulder with a friend ($34pp). This massive slow cooked lamb was topped with a tahini yoghurt, sumac and sesame seeds. A hint of lemon to finish it off. Hubby said that is was good - tender (some bits more than others), but there's been better.
lamb shoulder
So all up, the food was alright. It's a great location for a group of people on a rainy day. Try any other cafe and we'd be waiting for hours in the pouring rain. Not sure if the food is 'wow' enough to warrant a return visit though...

Food - 7/10
Service - 6.5/10
Ambiance - 7.5/10
Value for money - 6/10
Overall - 27/40

90-96 Bourke St
(corner of Collins St)
NSW 2015
Tel: (02) 9002 1333

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Penny Fours - Leichhardt

I'd heard from somewhere that there was an awesome little patisserie in Leichhardt and couldn't wait to check it out. Located on the quieter part of Norton Street, Penny Fours is this tiny spot with just two small counters and a couple of tables. Behind the front, however, is a massive massive kitchen area - which I found really quite confusing because on this Saturday afternoon, the place was quiet as! Not a soul in sight - but we braved a try anyway.

Lucky for us, we were not disappointed. The chocolate tart ($4.50) was amazing!!! The tart pastry was crumbly and golden, and despite looks, the chocolate filling was really chocolately, light, fluffy ish and just delicious. So delicious that I couldn't resist but to also get their salted caramel chocolate. This was also really really yum! It took sooo much self restraint to not also get the chocolate croissant.
chocolate tart
salted caramel
So looks can be deceiving! Though a super quite small and quaint patisserie, it exceeded my expectations muchly.

Food - 8/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 6/10
Value for money - 8/10
Overall - 29/40

Penny Four's
141 Norton Street
NSW 2040

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Reuben Hills - Surry Hills

In the last few months, due to some family things, I feel as though we hadn't been able to get out much. So last Sat, when I had the chance, I made sure we made out eating out experience 'worth it'. I googled and researched and looked and searched and finally decided on the hip brekky/brunch place that everyone is talking about - Reuben Hills.

We got here and my heart sank a bit... there was an EPIC line! Funnily enough, we bumped into a friend in this wait list - she'd been there 30 mins prior. Nonetheless, we were here, we're not leaving without some good food and coffee so we waited. 15-20 mins later, we were seated (much to the dismay of our friend, who came as a group of 6). We were seated right at the window which looked out to our waiting friend - talk about a guilt-trip!

Hubby ordered an OJ and I a cappuccino. He swears that this is the best Freaking OJ he has EVER drank. It was like that asian-type of mild, slightly watery and sugary but still orangey type of OJ. He LOVED it and just had to order a second one, even after he complained about how full he was. My coffee was also divine. I don't know if it was just my need for a caffeine fix - but it was gloriously aromatic and smooth and delicious.
Food-wise, we had a lot of trouble making up our minds. Everything sounded delicious! In the end, hubby settled for the 'NOT reuben' ($16). This is a wagyu brisket toasted rye sandwich with fresh pickled slaw, manchego and horseradish cream. Hubby LOVED this too! It tasted fresh and gave off the illusion of healthy. It was tasty and filling and yum.

 NOT Reuben
I decided to stomach the 'Tradesmans Brioche' ($14). Yes - sounds like a blokey option, looked like a blokey option but it was absolutely devine and what I had hoped for. Sloppy, juicy, tasty and everything! Inside my sugary brioche buns was a thin layer of herby eggs (and oil), loads of thinly sliced Jamon, chunks of glorious avocado and a wet tomato relish. It was messy! But awesome! I'd have loved seconds of this if only my stomach allowed.
tradesman brioche
So yup -tick of approval from us. Would definitely revisit Reuben Hills. Warm hint - don't come here in groups. Come with just one or two other people. Our friend (in a company of 6) had to wait 1 1/2 hours before she could sample this yummy food.

Food - 9.5/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 7.5/10
Overall - 31/40

Reuben Hills
61 Albion St
Surry Hills
NSW 2010
doesn't take bookings

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Deans Diner - Newtown

Hubby and I have been on a crusade to find our old school corner store memories. We both remember going to the corner shop after school and getting a big batch of hot yummy chips wrapped in butchers paper and yet, after going to corner shop after corner shop, the butchers paper-wrapped chips appear to no longer exist. That is, until we randomly mentioned our vendetta to a friend who instantly replied "oh - we just went somewhere that served this!". So on Saturday, we went to check it out - Deans Diner.
Deans Diner
Deans Diner is like an old-school tuck shop. The blackboard menu is filled with burgers on a variation. It was definitely rocking retro style.
blackboard menu

Ofcourse, we had to order the chips! Out of the many versions of the burger, I opted for the 'Fantasy' ($6.50), which really, is just a cheeseburger, whereas hubby opted for the 'Original Sin' ($6)(ie. hamburger) and added beetroot (50c). All these things came in neat little takeaway packages. Nice, hot, toasty and waiting to be opened!

So sure - the chips weren't the best chips in town. No where near the awesomeness taste that we remembered as kids... but - it came in Butchers paper!!!! The burger, on the other hand, was simply superb. Definitely old school Aussie-style burger. The patty was juicy and succulent and absolutely delicious. The lettuce was just the perfect amount and balanced the burger out really well - with the dallop of bbq sauce and my melting cheese. It was amazingly yum! Hubby agreed that this is the place to go the next time we want that true Aussie burger~
hot chips
Fantasy - $6.50
Original Sin (with beetroot) - $6 + 50c
Food - 8/10
Service - 7.5/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 7.5/10
Overall - 30/40

Deans Diner
385 King Street
NSW 2042
Tel: (02) 9557 6085

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Sails - Lavender Bay

We had a wonderful dinner at Sails one night. Spectacular views of the harbour was ever present with massive ceiling to floors windows all round. We has just missed the sunset/golden hour but in the night, luna park was lit up, harbour bridge was more than visible, and the opera house was a nice blueness (for autism awareness month) making it breath-taking anyway.

We had decided against the degustation for this occasion. Instead,we had crystal bay prawns ($28) to share as an entree and a main each. To start the night, there was nicely warmed bread and an amuse bouche of arancini balls with parmesan and truffle. (Photos are really bad quality due to the mood lighting in the restaurant). The acancini balls were really flavoursome - crunchy golden outside, toast hot and creamy inside.
bread and butter
truffle and parmesan arancini balls
Our entree was nicely split into two plates for us. The prawns were de-shelled and butterflied and went hand in hand with sweet corn puree. There was a nicely crispy thin slice of pancetta , a crab and shallot pastille and some popcorn scattered. The popcorn was a bit unnecessary but everything else was delicious~

crystal bay prawns
For mains, I had the poached ora king salmon ($38). This was a big slab of medium rare cooked salmon which was super soft, fell off the spoon, and melt-in-your-mouth. It was deliciousness! It came on a bed of greens - I think it was spinach - cylinders of saffron potato, small calamari rings and a tasty salmon broth.
poached salmon
Hubby had a main of rib-eye on the bone. It was a massive chunk of steak cooked perfectly medium-rare and it came with a side of super yummy crispy hand-cut chips. The chips were amazing!!! Super crunchy an super fluffy! Some of the best chips I've had! The steak was also one of the best steaks we've had for a while.

rib eye on the bone
hand cut chips

On the side, we had a salad of cos and trevisio with avocado, baby capers and croutons ($12). The salad was alright - added some balance to our protein-loaded meals.
cos and trevisio salad
I eyed the dessert menu and contemplated for heaps long - but at the end, there was nothing I really wanted. So, we skipped it.

All in all, it was a lovely meal. The food was deliciousness and the view, breath-taking. Will definitely be back!

Food - 8.5/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 8.5/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 31/40

Sails at Lavender Bay
2 Henry Lawson Ave
McMahons Point
NSW 2060
Tel:(02) 9955 5998