Burger Project, World Square Sydney ($) – Before & After

Rockpool’s amazing Neil Perry opened up a burger joint a few months ago and I had heard mixed reviews about the food from some of my friends and fellow bloggers.  I had to check it out for myself and see if it was worth all the hype.

I ended up going back again another time as I had heard that things were a changin’ and the burgers were better at BP!

Atmosphere

The Burger Project is about 5 minutes away from my office and is located on level 1 of World Square shopping centre, near Din Tai Fung and The Cidery. It’s not a very large spot but still comfortably fits about 90-100 diners both indoors and out.

Featuring pastel colours and bright yellows, small, white tables and brown chairs, the restaurant has a very modern and streamlined look but lacks personality and is a little boring.  While I did enjoy the music on my second visit, there wasn’t much else that caught my eye.

Service

Minimal service involved: you order and pay at the registers, take a buzzer and pick up your food when it is ready.  No Rockpool fancy-scmancyness here.

Food

We had to line up for about ten minutes the first time we waited and disappointingly, it was not worth our time.  The food was also quite average and I didn’t think I would return.

However, the second time we visited (having heard that there had been changes to the burgers) we really enjoyed the food and decided we would definitely visit again.

The first time ’round I ordered the Spicy Chicken Burger and some Crispy Hot Wings.

The wings were pretty crunchy and quite spicy but they were very oily and (being wings) there wasn’t much meat on them. They also had little wing hairs on them which was quite unappealing.

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Crispy hot wing, $3.50

The Chicken Burger was also disappointing. The bun was too sweet, and too soft. The chicken had skin on it and the skin wasn’t even crispy.

The chilli factor consisted of a chilli smashed against one side of the bun which was neither flavoursome nor spicy.

The “coleslaw” was hard and contained chunky bits of cabbage which were too large for a burger and too bitter.

I was not a fan.

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Spicy Chicken Burger, $9.50

KiwiKompanion ordered the Cheese Burger. She said she quite enjoyed it although she thought the bun was a bit “fake” and the meat a little dry. KiwiKompanion also enjoys subway sandwiches…. make of that what you will.

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Cheese burger, $8.90

Unfortunately although we wanted to try the Chips that day they had sold out and so we had to go without.

On my next visit I decided to try the Classic Burger and Mandarin Soda.

The Classic burger was delicious. This time around the buns had changed and were much firmer and crisper. The meat was 36 month grass-fed Cape Grim beef-  juicy, perfectly cooked, moist and flavoursome. I loved the fresh veg and devoured the whole burger. Amazing.

The Mandarin Pop was also great – very refreshing and light- and an unusual flavour.

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Classic burger, $7.90 and Mandarin Soda, $4.50

I also shared a side of chips with KiwiKompanion and loved them – they were lovely and crunchy, thrice-cooked, well-salted and a generous serving.

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Chips, $4.90

Recap

Overall, my first visit was a disappointment but I was pleasantly surprised by the burgers and chips second time round. My next visit will be to try the pork burger and sundaes! YUM!

* * *

Address: World Square, Level 1, 644 George St Sydney NSW

Website: http://burgerproject.com/

Opening hours: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm daily

Burger Project on Urbanspoon

Five Rivers Cuisine, Darlinghurst ($$)

Five Rivers is a North Indian restaurant on Oxford Street, Darlinghurst.  The name, “Five Rivers” symbolises the northern Indian state of Punjab, as “Punj” means five and “ab” means water; and there are five rivers that flow throughout Punjab.

While it has a great location, lively decor and scrumptious food, what makes Five Rivers special and exciting for me is the fact that it is owned by one of my work colleagues, Ash, and her husband, Ram.  This meant that I was able to have some insight into how a restaurant is set up; the considerations that go into design, IT, staffing and menus, including the ups and downs of finding suitable premises, hiring chefs and obtaining a liquor licence. The end result is a fantastic menu, some helpful and friendly staff, a super-talented chef and an excellent Indian fine dining experience.

Atmosphere

Five Rivers has warm red and pink walls, which give it a warm and exotic feel, and the fact that it is located on Oxford Street means it is close to other great spots including bars, cafes and dessert spots.

Service

Nik, one of the waiters at Five Rivers is a quiet but efficient worker. You wouldn’t even notice he was there, but he always knows you are – filling up your water, laying down napkins, clearing plates. He is a true professional!

Food

While I may be a little biased, I can honestly say that the food is fantastic. There is something to please everyone and I have never had a dish from here that I didn’t like!  We often pre-order our food and visit in our lunch break – the food is usually ready when we get there and we can be back at work within the hour!

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Super yummy samosas are crunchy on the outside and full of cumin and turmeric goodness on the inside- slightly spicy and very moreish. 20141113_202310

The naans are soft and great for soaking up the curry!

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The garlic naan is my favourite!

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The dosai with sides such as lentil soup, gravy, chutney or mint, is a fantastic way to try enjoy south indian food. It is beautifully presented and the portion size is very satisfying.

The tandoori chicken is another excellent starter, a generous serving too and great for those who don’t eat a lot of red meat.

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Saffron rice is colourful and fragrant, a great alternative to steamed rice.

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Lamb korma- a classic indian dish of lamb cooked in a mild cashew nut sauce and flavoured with garam masala.

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Five Rivers’ butter chicken is one of the best I have had. It is very rich and smooth and has a lovely sweet and nutty taste.

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Rogan josh was a winner with MC- spicy and chunky sauce made of tomato with spices.

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For vegetarians, you can’t go past a good dhal!

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And spice lovers will enjoy the hotttttt vindaloo!

Recap

This is one of the yummiest places to enjoy Indian food. Although the normal menu can be a little expensive for work lunches, there is a special lunch menu available too for those looking for a quick/inexpensive feed.  Also a great place for events and birthdays- you can call the restaurant to reserve a table.

Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 8
  • Food- 9
  • Ambience- 6.5 (it wasn’t a busy/particularly exciting night when we were there)
  • Value – 7.5

TCFB dined courtesy of Five Rivers. All opinions are, however, our own.

* * *

Address: 147 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst NSW

Tel: (02) 9368 0345

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

Five Rivers North Indian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Whitewater Restaurant, Manly ($$$)

On Sunday last week, MC and I visited Whitewater Restaurant in Manly with a bunch of other food bloggers including Excuse Me Waiter, Food Diary By CK, Nessy Eater, Mademoiselle in Sydney and The Kawaii KitchenIMG_0718

Whitewater is located opposite the beach and has a stunning view of the water. It’s super convenient to get to although you should plan to get there early to find parking on sunny days like the one that we visited on!IMG_0623

Atmosphere

Whitewater has a very bright and modern interior with white ceilings and a wooden roof, exposed brick walls and beautiful beach-style accents such as shells and nets. It has a fresh and inviting look and it’s sleek design suits the Modern Australian menu and beachside location.

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There is a large bar on one end and a pretty decent cocktail list to go with it!IMG_0630

The restaurant also has a great private dining area for larger groups, with its own air conditioning unit, a TV and a separate bar counter.

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The bottle shapes on the wall give the private dining room a nautical feel and are a great feature point!IMG_0711

Cool giant crab shell!

Overall, I thought the restaurant was very tastefully decorated and had a great modern look.

Service

The staff were very attentive and always made sure our water glasses were full and our plates were cleared when we were finished.  They checked if we wanted another drink and asked how our meals were.

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All our dishes came out on in good time without any errors or issues at all. A fuss -free dining experience!

Drinks

As it was a very hot day I decided to go for the Coco-Mango Daiquiri.

The Daiquiri featured Havana Club white rum, Malibu, mango liqueur, mango puree and lime juice. It was quite sweet (the way I like it) and had a good amount of alcohol in it- enough that you could taste it without being too overpowering. It was also icy and cold, so great for summer!

Others ordered Somersby ciders, Pimms & lemonade and a Kryptonite, a very green Wicked-like cocktail which I hear was quite strong!

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Food

Entree

For entrees we shared a number of dishes with those sitting nearest to us. We started with the Summer Corn with chilli, lime and truffle parmesan. The corn was charred and delicious, with a very smoky taste and sweet, juicy kernels.  It could have done with a little more parmesan (I love my cheese) but otherwise, very tasty.

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Summer corn, $6.95

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Next was the squid. It was described on the menu as “Five Spiced squid served with Asian fried noodles, chives, baby radish, shallots, fried chilli with a lemon and lime aioli” and sounded too good to resist!

We loved the crunch of the squid and the EXTRA crunch of the fried noodles. The chilli spice made the dish and I enjoyed the tangy aioli and sweet soy.

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Squid, $18.95

We then feasted on the fresh witlof salad with avocado, mango, feta and crumb dressed with a citrus vinaigrette.

The avocado was soft and creamy and the mango was chilled; combined with the crunchy witlof (eaten like san choy bow) and the tangy feta, it was a match made in heaven. The balsamic and crumb finish off the dish adding sweetness and a slightly buttery taste.

One of my favourite salads- ever! (BIG CALL I KNOW)

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Witlof salad, $14.95

Mains

Mains were also a treat. We enjoyed a number of dishes, again shared so we could taste a bit of everything.

The Whitewater homemade fettucini marinara (fish, octopus, prawns, calamari) with napolitana sauce was a favourite of mine. It was full of seafood flavour and rich tomatoes. There was a lot of seafood as well- prawns, calamari, fish; and juicy cherry tomatoes.

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Seafood marinara, $27.95

The saffron infused chicken risotto was our next choice. Risotto is difficult to get right but this one was pretty good. I enjoyed the creaminess of the risotto, the delicious saffron and the chunky chicken and peas. The dish was also quite a generous serving, and even between four we couldn’t finish it off!

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Risotto, $23.95

Some of the others ordered the crumbed Lamb loin with olive and pistachio crust truffle mash and a lamb jus. The dish was beautifully presented and looked super appetising. Great for lamb lovers or meat eaters in general. IMG_0672

Lamb, $27.95

You cannot come to Manly, or any beach town for that matter, and not eat seafood.

The seafood plate featured freshly shucked Sydney rock oysters, king prawns, tuna tataki, marinated octopus, smoked salmon and prawn cocktail, served with lemon wedges.

MC and I expected a hot and cold seafood plate or a basket so we were a little surprised when this one came out. However at $44 it is pretty good value for seafood and has a lot of variety!

Nonetheless, the seafood was very fresh and we enjoyed everything on the plate (except I didn’t have octopus- yuck!).  The tuna tataki was something I hadn’t tried before and I learnt that it consists of soy-infused tuna, sprinkled with sesame seeds- it had a smoky taste and was quite salty- very unusual!

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Seafood plate, $43.95

Finally, I tried some of the 40 degree ocean trout with watercress salad and a horseradish mayo. The trout was quite rare, very flaky and pink on the centre. It was a little fishy but I think that added to the flavour.

I enjoyed the addition of red grapes in the salad, along with the cherry tomatoes, avocado and rocket.

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40 degree trout, $26.95

Dessert

I started with an affogato – a shot of coffee poured over vanilla ice cream. Very strong coffee – great for those who like the bitterness, although I would have liked a little less coffee or more ice cream :)

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Plain affogato, $8

For dessert, I couldn’t go past the chocolate ganache, with salted caramel sauce, chocolate spiral and mango and carrot sorbet.

The ganache was super sweet – the stuff my sweetest dreams are made of. It was great with the bitter chocolate on top, the crunchy nougat-like pieces in the base and the salty caramel sauce. I liked the freshness of the mango sorbet, although I didn’t really notice the carrot in it.

A fantastic dish- would definitely recommend and I will be dreaming about this for the rest of the week!

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Ganache, $17

MC ordered a tropical dish featuring a chocolate biscuit base, mango sorbet, mousse centre and a creamy dollop of ice cream, dressed with passionfruit and strawberries. Very summery and not too heavy for those who don’t want as much chocolate as the ganache! IMG_0700 IMG_0701

Tropical dessert, $17

The lemon tart sable brereton with lemon financiere and italian meringue was a pretty light and fresh dish. The dish was nicely presented and was very bright and tempting. The lemon was pretty sour (read: perfect), the meringues crunchy. The base was soft and sweet and altogether the dish was very enjoyable.

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Lemon tart, $17

Yvonne from Excuse Me Waiter ordered the creme brulee and we were all shocked by the size of the dish.  You can’t really tell in this photo but the creme brulee was HUGE! There was also a giant strawberry and a long piece of shortbread on top- great value.

The creme brulee had a nice crunchy top and a creamy, silky custard interior. YUM YUM YUM.

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Creme Brulee, $17

As a special surprise, we were given a yummy tasting plate full of various goodies including macarons, the lemon tart and brownies.

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Awesome way to end the meal.

Recap

Great, friendly staff, modern atmosphere, yummy food. Great place for birthdays and events- take advantage of their private function room and great cocktails!

Afterwards we headed to the beach for a nice walk to work off those calories!

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Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 7.75
  • Food- 7.5
  • Ambience- 7
  • Value – 7

TCFB & MC dined courtesy of Whitewater Restaurant and The Platinum Group. All opinions are, however, our own.

* * *

Address: 35 South Steyne, Manly NSW

Tel: (02) 9977 0322

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

Whitewater on Urbanspoon

The Boathouse, Balmoral Beach ($$)

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Nothing says holidays quite like the beach and I was definitely in need for a break recently when MC and TW accompanied me to Balmoral’s beautiful Boathouse one weekend.

It was a bit of a gloomy day but that didn’t stop us – or all the others who had come out for brekky.  Balmoral is a great spot for a day out and we took advantage of the 2 hour free parking (limited), enjoying a lovely walk on the beach and a spot of shopping in Mosman afterwards.

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Atmosphere

The Boathouse is located on the beach at Balmoral in a modern looking, two-storey panelled building with a long deck.

The actual restaurant/cafe is inside but there is also a takeaway spot outside and a small boat filled with plants available for purchase- on this occasion it was chilli plants.

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We loved the beautiful table of flowers, large round sink with a high tap for filling up water bottles and crates of fresh fruit and vegetables.

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Upon entering we stood in line behind about 5 others and stared at the chalkboards and the orders coming from the kitchen, trying to make up our mind before it was our turn to order. The place has a lovely relaxed and beachy feel to it and a very well thought out design with rustic features (such as the taps) blended with sleek whites and faded blues.

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Eventually we ordered and were given a table number. We chose to sit outside by the rails of the deck to enjoy the fab view, despite the gloom.

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Service

Service was minimal as we ordered at the bar and our food was brought out to us about 10 to 15 minutes later.  However, everyone we did speak to or request something from was lovely and polite, very friendly.

It was a little slow for breakfast but the place is crowded, so that was expected; it also gave us a chance to enjoy the view and read the paper!

Food

TW ordered a latte, I had a cappuccino and MC had a mango smoothie.

The coffees were pretty good and I loved the quaint chocolate anchors dusted over the cappuccino (although mine was quite messy).

MC’s smoothie was creamy, yogurty and divine. A great choice, but a little overpriced perhaps.

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Smoothie, $8; Coffees, $4

For breakfast I ordered the market fruit plate with yogurt and local honey.

I was impressed by the range of fruits, the stunning presentation and the freshness of the ingredients. Everything was extremely fresh and delicious- a pleasure to eat.

The yogurt was creamy and thick and I loved the waxy sweetness of the honey.

Overall my dish was a winner in my books and had the added benefit of being super healthy and full of antioxidants!

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Market fruit plate, $17

MC ordered the bacon and egg roll which relish, crispy bacon and a fried egg on a brioche bun. Super fatty but hey, you gotta live a little right?

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Bacon & Egg Roll, $13

TW ordered the toasted banana bread with Pepe Saya butter (delish), honey and mascarpone.  The banana bread was soft and moist and melted in the mouth. The handcrafted, cultured butter was creamy; the honey a little piece of heaven. A perfect combination of flavours!

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Toasted banana bread, $12

Recap

MC, TW and I really enjoyed our day trip to Balmoral. The Boathouse is in a stunning location and we loved the delicious food, tasty coffee and relaxing atmosphere we experienced while we were there.

Would love to return for lunch next!

Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 6 (didn’t really experience much of it but what we saw was good)
  • Food- 7.5
  • Ambience- 7.75
  • Value – 7

* * *

Address: 2 The Esplanade, Balmoral Beach, NSW

Tel:  (02) 9974 5440

Website: http://www.theboathousebb.com.au/#about

The Boathouse on Urbanspoon

Spice I Am, Surry Hills ($$)

My new work friend Mwela and I have decided to do lunch dates once in a while to try out some of the cool restaurants and cafes around the city.

One particularly hot day, we headed over to Spice I Am which, Mwela informs me, is one of her favourite restaurants.

I had been to Spice I Am in Darlinghurst previously, but had not yet visited the Surry Hills restaurant.

Atmosphere

The atmosphere at this hole-in-the-wall restaurant was one of busy chatter and steaming pans, cooking in the sectioned-off kitchen. There were plenty of workers wolfing down their meals in their lunch breaks but we were lucky enough to get a table without waiting, having arrived just after the 12:00 – 1:00 pm rush.

Although small, the restaurant can accommodate quite a number of diners, and its popularity means it is often full, especially on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Service

Although our food was quickly prepared and served, our waiter was not very friendly and she did not know much about the menu.

When we asked her to describe what the Chu Chee curry was, she didn’t really know much about it and ended up describing it as a “thick curry.”

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Iced Longan Drink

Food

We decided to order two dishes to share.

Despite the waitress’ poor description, we opted for the Chicken Chu Chee Curry.

Luckily, we were not disappointed.  The combination of fried chicken, a creamy and spicy sauce, and sliced chilli proved to be a recipe for a fiery heaven.

Mwela and I devoured the delicious curry and Mwela proclaimed that she would be returning again for more Chu Chee!

20131017_131743 Chicken Chu Chee Curry, $14.50

Our second choice was a favourite of mine, and Spice I Am’s signature dish, Crispy Pork Belly with Chinese Broccoli.

The pork was very crispy, although the pieces of flesh were a little too chewy. Also, there was a lot of steamed broccoli, which contributed a freshness and cleanness to the dish, but not much pork.

Overall, I think I have had better pork belly elsewhere, Wooden Spoon being one of those places.

While it was not the best dish of the meal, it was not bad, and we were still hungry enough to gobble it all up!

20131017_132031Crispy Pork Belly, $14.50

Overall, Spice I Am offers tasty Thai at a low price. It is conveniently located close to Central station and World Square, and service is quick, making it perfect for work lunches.

Would I return?

There are plenty of great Thai places in Sydney and while I don’t see this as being one of my favourites, the Chu Chee Curry is enough to make anyone come back for more!

Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 4
  • Food- 8
  • Ambience- 6
  • Value – 7.5

* * *

Address: 90 Wentworth Avenue, Surry Hills NSW

Tel: (02) 9280 0928

Website: http://www.spiceiam.com/

Spice I Am on Urbanspoon

Buffet Breakfast- The Glass Brasserie, Hilton, Sydney ($$)

My dad had a work conference at the Hilton and stayed there for three days until it was over.  During that time, I visited to join him for a pre-work breakfast at the Glass Brasserie.

Atmosphere

The atmosphere at the Glass Brasserie was one of excitement and activity, with a mix of people from all over the country mingling and chatting, brought together by the conference.

The interior of the Brasserie is modern yet elegant, featuring high ceilings, wooden floors and dark brown furniture. The mirrors keep the space bright and airy, while the low lamp shades and flowers add a touch of sophistication.

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The space is surrounded by food stations.

In front of us was the bread and pastry section (see below), and to the left was a long kitchen area where you could select from pre-made breakfast options such as grilled tomatoes, ham and bacon, or order your own freshly made to order items.

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Service

Service was excellent.

From the minute we entered we had a waiter lead us to a table.

We were then served tea, coffee or juice (and you could refill your own or ask for another when you were done).

The staff were friendly and polite and attentive, despite the large number of people in the room, vying for their attention.

Food

Food was great quality.

I ordered the Salmon Eggs Benedict, freshly made.

It soon came out, well presented and generously portioned. I could only eat half of the food as I wanted to try some of the other options.

It would have been good if they had asked if you wanted half an English muffin or a full one, as I would imagine other people may want to have a pastry or some fruit after their eggs too.

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Salmon Eggs Benedict

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Tea and coffee

There was a wide selection of mini pastries (the perfect size), including cherry danish, chocolate and plain croissants, snails, and various breads.

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Pastries and juice

I finished off my meal with some fresh and dried fruit and nuts (and a sneaky hashbrown).  The dried fruit and nuts were for porridge and cereals. The fruit was delicious and there was plenty of variety to choose from.

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Fresh fruit and dried fruit and nuts

Overall, the food was good, service was excellent and the atmosphere was lively and energising.

Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 8
  • Food- 7.75
  • Ambience- 7.5
  • Value – 7.5

* * *

Address: Level 2, 488 George Street, Sydney NSW

Tel: (02) 9265 6068

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

Opening Hours:

Monday to Friday- 6.00am to 10.00am

Saturday and Sunday- 7.00am to 11.00am

White Chocolate & Mango Tart (serves 8-10)

 

This recipe is a great way to enjoy two of my favourite things- mango and chocolate!

It’s very easy to make and is versatile as you can substitute the mango for raspberries, or any other fruits you like!

Let me know how you go with baking it and comment below with your favourite tart or dessert combinations :)

* * *

Ingredients: 

For the base:

  • 155g self-raising flour
  • 90g dessicated or shredded coconut
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 200g butternut biscuits
  • 200g melted butter

For the filling:

  • 200g white chocolate bits
  • 1/2 can of a 395g can condensed milk
  • 300mL thickened cream
  • 2 medium sized mangoes (I used one very large one)

For the topping:

  • 1 large mango peeled, cut in half and sliced thinly lengthways
Method:
1. Preheat oven to 160°C and grease a large (20cm) round loose base baking tin.
2. Using a food processor, crush the butternut biscuits until they are almost as small as breadcrumbs.
3. In a medium sized bowl, add flour, coconut, sugar, butternut biscuits. Stir to combine. Add melted butter and stir thoroughly.
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4. Press the mixture into the baking tin, prick with a fork a few times and bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.  Once browned, remove from oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.
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The base, before it is cooked
5. Puree the two mangoes in a food processor or blender, until smooth.
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5. In medium sized pan, boil thickened cream, stirring continuously. Then, on low heat, add white chocolate and stir until completely melted.  Once the white chocolate has melted, add condensed milk and mango puree and stir.
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6. Pour mango/chocolate mixture over base, refrigerate overnight. Once set, remove from tin and place onto a serving dish.
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7. Top with sliced mango and enjoy chilled!
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Kinn Thai (formerly Red Spoon), Castle Hill ($$)

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MC and I visited Kinn Thai in Castle Hill Tower’s Piazza (formerly known as Red Spoon).  The place has a great atmosphere and is usually quite busy on Friday and Saturday nights, so it is good to book in advance!

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We really enjoyed the food including the grilled chicken with hot and sour sauce which had a delicious turmeric based marinade and was juicy and tender.

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The massaman beef curry was so rich and creamy. It was spicy tasty and contained large chunks of beef cheek, crunchy roasted cashews, fresh herbs and a drizzle of coconut milk.  So many rich flavours in one bowl.  We were pleasantly surprised as some places we have been to have served up water curries and sliced beef rather than slow cooked cheek.

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The soft shell crab salad was next.  Delicious crunchy crab and a tangy and fresh apple, chilli and carrot slaw -this was definitely a winner. A good one for summer and no rice needed with this!

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Overall an enjoyable experience with tasty food and a nice atmosphere. The massaman curry is a winner!

* * *

Address: The Piazza, Castle Towers, 6-14 Castle Street, Castle Hill NSW

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

Kinn Thai Castle Hill on Urbanspoon