Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Jamie's Italian

We saw a huge Chandelier through the glass, shinning up the entire entrance like as if it was a bright welcome sign. Yep, we were finally at Jamie's Italian (about time!?). I think I was a little hooked on Polenta Chips since Bloodwood, so we have decided to visit here to hunt down this famous dish.

The interior was really big, it went all the way inside and also with tables upstairs. We saw a range of wines, rows of breads, and a bookshelf full of Jamie Oliver's cooking books. The excitement started to build up, as we slowly walked up that wide stairs with our friendly waitress.

There were small and intimate tables, tall pub table, and large group tables. The lighting wasn't as dim as we thought, as they had single light bulbs almost at every corner. We loved the setting and the mood that was created, it somewhat evoked a nostalgic feeling.

The menu came in a single page, presenting lots of choices in which circulated in our heads. We then ended up picking what we thought were the most classic Italian dishes.

I loved this particular shot of the tables behind us, looking out towards the colourful city lights. I liked the combination of dark green, red and brown colours, they matched really well with the background.

Fresh Juice  $4.50

Bun ordered this orange juice to satisfy the thirst, he gulped down half of it in a few minutes and that put a warm smile on his face.

Crispy Squid $12.00

Bun loves squid, and this dish has always been a "MUST" for a dinner like this. The sauce was a little sour so we didn't dip too much of it, I guess the squid itself has already got enough flavour. Another thing I found amusing was the random garlic chips I picked up on the side mmmm...however, the portion was smaller than what we had in mind, and hence we managed to finish the dish at the speed of light.

Famous Polenta Chips $8.50

Bun stared at me as I ate them one by one like a maniac or some kind of vacuum machine, this dish left me speechless, stunned, whatever you call it. I loved how crispy the fried coating was, and how they came in perfect size for the bite. The Parmesan covered them like snowflakes, giving that extra bit of texture. It was my favourite dish for the evening, and I would definitely recommend this for any Polenta Chips lovers!

Tagliatelle Bolognese $12.50 (entree size)

We both love Bolognese, and we certainly won't miss out on this one! The mixture of beef and pork along with the herbs and Parmesan, have hugged tightly onto each other and brought out that nostalgic flavour to our mouths. The good old Bolognese never disappoint us, perhaps we should've ordered the main dish size ($19.00).

Game Meatball $22.00
(Note: "Game" refers to any animal hunted for food, or not normally domesticated)

Ok, I think we picked this dish purely out of curiosity. It turned out a little different to what we thought, but the taste certainly amused us. (HA! I see Polenta again!) The meatball was well-cooked so it pretty much broke off as soon as we dug our forks into it. We loved the combinations of everything on the plate, and it was very fulfilling too.

JI Warm Brownie $9.00

By the time we reached desserts, our stomaches were pretty full already. Despite this fact, we still decided to order separate desserts! Bun loved his Brownie, the combination of cold vanilla ice cream and the warm Brownie satisfied him, completely.

Before I go on with my adventure of the Tiramisu cake, here's a picture of my stomach at the time...

 *Cough* Sorry to kill your eyes with my messy drawing and the unnecessary description...let's move on shall we?!

Tiramisu $9.50

This thing was HUGE! I could immediately foresee my failure to finish this beautiful cake. The coffee flavour was very strong, just as what I liked about Tiramisu. I loved the layers and the bits of orange mascarpone, it was one of the best Tiramisu cakes I ever had. Unfortunately, I had to leave it when I was half way due to explosion inside the stomach.

We loved every single bit of Jamie's Italian, whether it was the attentive service, the brilliant dishes, the overall atmosphere...it was a really enjoyable dinner. We can't wait to recommend this place to our friends, and hopefully we can come here as a group next time and try out heaps more dishes :D

107 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW

Phone number:
02 8240 9000

Opening time:
Mon - Sun  11.30am - late

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013


The Bloodwood Restaurant and Bar was located at the quieter side of Newtown, mysterious and secluded. The interior reminded me of the movie called "Inception" where no ordinary rules applied for its designs, thus you will see bottles forming part of the wall, random recycled materials, illusional patterns that merged with stairs, and light bulbs hanging down the ceiling like a starry sky.

We got allocated to a table upstairs just near the staircase, and we were delighted by the warm and friendly waiters. When the menus were given to us, we had absolutely no problem in selecting the first entree dish, as we came to try out this dish since the beginning.

Polenta chips with Gorgonzola sauce  $9.00

I've heard stories about these chips, mostly just about how fat and chunky they were. So we have decided to see it ourselves, and exactly how fascinating it was. The size of each chips were like wedges, except they were 10 times more delicious. The golden crust coated the soft inner core, and they were ready to be dipped deeply into the white Gorgonzola sauce. Bun said he found this dish quite bland and tasteless, but I actually liked it! (I have this weird habit where I like to eat the very original flavour of chips) Not sure whether it was because of the crust, or due to the creamy sauce, but I found every bite was very fulfilling.

PS: Polenta is a paste or dough made from cornmeal as used in Italian cooking. Gorgonzola is a type of rich and strong-flavoured Italian cheese with bluish-green veins.

Seared tuna, plum glaze, apple and snow pea tendrils  $18.00

This was quite an interesting dish, where the sweet and sourness of the fruits helped to highlight the freshness of the tuna. I liked how thin each slice was, and how easy it was to swallow them (very very smooth!). Although we had to say we wished the portion was bigger than that.

Glazed hombrea chicken with chickpeas, kale, smoked sausage and pickled onion  $32.00

Funny how with this dish, I actually enjoyed the vegetable side more than the meat. The vegetables were all soaked with full flavours and they complimented the meat really well. I liked the smoked sausage but still found it a bit salty to my taste. Along with the pile of crunchy chickpeas, there lied the row of juicy chicken, and I do find their skins were a lot more tempting than the actual meat.

Being the Best Bar with Food and Best Casual Restaurant previously, we found Bloodwood had some really smart and sophisticated dishes to offer for its customers. However, we thought the portion could be seen as quite small for some people. The restaurant itself had dim lighting, funky music and as well as a chatty crowd. We wouldn't mind to return to this place again one day, just to try its range of cocktails and desserts.

416 King Street, Newtown NSW

Phone number:
02 9557 7699

Opening time:
Mon  5pm till late
Wed & Thu  5pm till late
Fri & Sat  midday till late
Sun  midday till 10pm

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Kitchen by Mike

Good morning Mike! We are coming to the Kitchen! Yes, that's Mike McEnearney, the former head chef of Rockpool. This place was full of fresh and colourful produce, and not to mention it literally WAS like a huge kitchen! It had no menus, so you would see a long line heading towards the food counter and a lively crowd laughing in the background.

This place was huge with ceilings staying high above the crowd, along with the cracks of woods and beams of sunlight coming from every direction.

They had several pots stuck in between the wires in front of the windows, and they have created funny shadows when the backlight came into the window.

We spotted food, lots and lots of them sitting in different plates behind the glasses, as if they were screaming "Eat me pleeeease!" We also spotted a cute staff member trying to cut the bread. Little things like those somehow amused us on this sunny morning.

After a little while, we have finally finished selecting our foods on the plates. As soon as we grabbed our dishes, we rushed outside as we felt the indoor area could turn into a giant heater in this sort of day.

We found this tin containing the cutlery, and it was somewhat fascinating as it reminded me of something found in a random 70's show.

Crispy pork belly with piccalilli $15.00 + Iceberg lettuce, tamarind and jalapenos $4.50

Onto the food! Here was my plate...I regret not taking a close up photo of the pork belly though, I guess I was too hungry this time! The pork belly was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Try imagining placing a chunky cracker into your mouth and then chomp down as hard as you could. That was exactly what the top skin sounded like! Then the tender and juicy meat came in, along with the burning sensation of piccalilli...I was so sad to finish this dish, it was like one of the most delicious things you could have.

Jerk "jamaican" chicken, and corn $14.00

This dish definitely didn't stand out as much when compared with the pork belly, so I guess the pork belly took the entire spotlight. I found the chicken was too ordinary, although it was cooked really well without much excess oil. It was just something very predictable, no highlights and no disappointments.

There is something exciting about places that have turned factories and warehouses to restaurants/cafes, where people can eat at different settings. Another thing is about the extra combination, whether it's a little shop or an outdoor garden, they seem to have added some entertainment for the customers. Last thing to mention is...we realised a development proposal at their exit, saying that they might be able to open for dinner in the future!! (YAY!)

85 Dunning Ave, Rosebery NSW

Phone number:
02 9045 0910

Opening time:
Mon - Fri  7am - 4pm
Sat & Sun  8am - 4pm
Lunch finishes at 3pm everyday, and coffee & cake finishes at 4pm everyday.

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Monday, April 15, 2013

The Grounds of Alexandria

Landed in the middle of the semi-industrial Alexandria, you saw a huge Warehouse and found out it was actually one of the ultimate destinations for Cafe and bakery lovers. There was The Grounds of Alexandria, with an everlasting long queue and a large garden with grown produce and herbs.

We noticed the bicycle parking spot, but also the parking spot for dogs? I would actually really love to see a cute bull dog sitting there though...

This place was vibrant, full of enthusiastic customers sipping away the coffees roasted by The Ground of Alexandria. It could be a quite noisy place for some people, and we pretty much had to talk really loud in there so we could actually hear eachother.

We were sitting in front of the roasting machines, along with constant garden decorations falling into our eye sights.

The Grounds of Alexandria had some really colourful furniture, contrasting with the rusty walls and poles at the background. They even had their own sign post right beside the garden, so it made us felt like we were in some foreign land.

With the menu on a clipboard, cutlery in a tin and water in a milk bottle, we were ready to begin a very exciting Breakfast.

Watermelon, Pineapple and mint juice  $7.00

This was a very interesting drink, as we haven't seen this combination before. The juice turned out to be sourer than we thought, as the Pineapple flavour has beaten the sweetness of the Watermelon. But to our surprise, a thin stream of minty taste rushed into our throats like a snowflake in a cold winter, and then stayed for 5 seconds until it was melted.

Regular Mocha  $3.50

This Mocha was very sweet, with a thin layer of foam and less aroma than I expected. I found it less amusing than the Watermelon juice, but I loved the combination of this drink on a green plate, it was just like a beautiful plant growing happily in the garden.

Turkish Style Eggs (Soft poached eggs in a rich tomato sauce with cannellini beans, spinach, pistachios, labneh yoghurt and toast) $16.00

I picked this purely because of the sound of "beans in tomato sauce", as this was one of my favourite combinations. Also I seriously couldn't resist "poached egg" these days, I felt so much satisfaction as I watched the yolk running out after a gentle poke, and it was almost similar to the feelings of how a kid won a bunch of lollies. I loved the combination of textures with the slippery spinach, the crunchy pistachios and the soft labneh yoghurt, together they lie on the toast and formed an excellent piece of art. Every bit of it fulfilled my desire for a perfect breakfast on a lazy morning, and it had the power to give you plenty of smiles on your face.

The Grounds breakfast board (double smoked ham, avocado, fresh tomato, Persian feta, two poached eggs, house made pesto and toasted sourdough)  $19.00 (with added Bacon $4.50)

Bun decided to order something BIG, and indeed the breakfast board was big enough to fulfil his appetite. The combination of meat, pesto and feta had a pleasant taste on the sourdough, and you could always add Bacon if you felt like more meat. It was a great dish that included a bit of everything, and the portion was very reasonable.

We went to check out the garden after eating, and we found this little piggy lying there with a lazy face. Awwww it was so cute!

I loved these little random decorations around the garden, as they made the garden seemed adorable and lively.

BBQ and Donuts?

The Grounds of Alexandria have grown seasonal produce for their menu, so you could spot a range of different plants inside the garden.

I'd like to end this post with this picture above, as it reminded me of some fairytale. I was so mesmerized by the bottles hanging down from the ceiling, wondering if a strong breeze of wind would make them bump into each other and form some lovely music notes.

We'd say...we loved the food there, the bustling atmosphere and the dreamy garden that felt like a journey of Alice in Wonderland.

7A/2 Huntley Street
Alexandria NSW

Phone number:
02 9699 2225

Opening time:
Mon to Fri 7am - 4pm
Sat to Sun 7.30am - 4pm
Mon to Fri 7am - 11.30am
Sat to Sun 7.30am - 11.30am
Mon to Fri  Noon - 3pm
Sat to Sun  Noon - 3.30pm

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Holy Basil - Canley Heights

We have always loved Thai food, and we wanted to go inside Holy Basil since AGES AGO. Finally on this particular evening, we could get there early to avoid the queue. It was right at opening time and we were totally exhausted, hungry, but ofcourse, excited! We wanted to come here because of the Fried Ice cream (100% of the people who ate them have given positive feedbacks) and we were also curious about the main dishes too.

The interior looked very traditional, with all the golden statues and Thai decorations, and then you get the benches instead of chairs for seating. One side was completely open to fresh air, and we picked our seats there to enjoy the bit of evening breeze.

Coconut juice  $4.50

We both picked Coconut juice, as it was just something simple and refreshing to drink. Although I found the one from Holy Basil had a richer and smoother coconut flavour which was very pleasant, and it also included more coconut pieces than the ones we have tried at other restaurants.

Mixed Appetizers - Fish Cake, spring roll, chicken wing, and curry puff (4 pieces)  $9.90

Who can get away a Thai meal without some Appetizers? I know I can't!! The little pieces were just too irresistible! I loved how flavoursome the chicken wing was, how crispy the curry puff and spring roll were, and how well the fish cake combined with the sweet chilli sauce.

Crab Meat Fried Rice - Stir fried rice with crab meat, onion, tomato, garlic, Chinese Broccoli, shallots, lime, and shrimp paste  $14.90

This was one of the very few times where we have picked fried rice in a Thai restaurant, and we absolutely loved it! You could spot several chunks of actual crab meats, and the overall mixture of ingredients was just so fulfilling. I loved how the salt and other flavours balanced perfectly and the inclusion of cucumbers and tomato to add a bit more refreshing tastes.

Green Curry - Available with meat, vegetables or seafood (we picked chicken) $12.90

When we picked this dish, the waiter asked us what level of chilli we preferred. We weren't sure how hot they were like so we picked medium, and it turned out not as spicy as we thought...Phewww. It was a great main dish to have with rice, and the base was really creamy with a tiny bit of sweetness. We selected Chicken as it had a relatively lighter taste, hence we felt that they would balance with the strong curry flavour really well.

Holy Basil Fried Ice cream  $13.90

After trying so hard to save that last bit of room in the stomach, the legendary dessert has finally arrived! I thought the appearance was more like a thick toast or something, you couldn't really tell what was really inside by the look of it. But after that very first bite, OH MY GOD. The pastry was so crispy, along with that sweet wave of ice cream melting into your mouth, oh I could now flew to heaven. Also I wanted to mention the caramel sauce and the crunchy coconut pieces on the side, as they have all added that extra bonus to this dessert. I gave it 2 thumbs and 2 toes up, it was lovely :P

Sticky coconut rice pudding + Mango  $13.90

This was the other dessert that Bun picked, after my epic fail to persuade him in getting a fried ice cream too >.< But it turned out he totally loved it! I thought the sticky rice had a really unique flavour, it was better than the white sticky rice that we have tried elsewhere. The Mango was fresh and the temperature didn't have too much contrast, we found it as a good aspect as too much difference has caused me toothaches before.

In the end we completely fell in love with Holy Basil and no doubt it was one of the best Thai restaurants we have tried so far. Now we can understand why there is always a long line waiting at the door around lunch and dinner times, it certainly deserves the popularity. They have a chain in Shark Hotel, and we'd love to eat there sometimes too. Next time, I am definitely going to try their Pad Thai!

233A Canley Vale Rd, Canley Heights NSW

Phone number:
02 9727 7585

Opening time:
Sun - Wed  5-10pm
Thu - Sat  5-11pm

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