Platia Greek Taverna, Top Ryde ($$)

Platia is located in the outdoor restaurant level of Top Ryde Shopping Centre.

It’s a great addition to the outdoor area which already features Thai, Chinese, Ribs, Middle Eastern, Italian and modern Australian cuisine.

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Atmosphere

It was Platia’s opening day and we were super excited about the big launch!

As we walked into the restaurant we were welcomed by live Greek music and a happy party vibe. I thought the restaurant was quite spacious and had a fun and exciting atmosphere. We  also liked the modern and welcoming decor and the black and red theme.

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Service

The night started off OK – we were led over to a table in a nice quiet spot in the corner; the music was great, atmosphere was fun and we were given some menus for drinks and food.

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Our drinks orders were taken and it wasn’t long before MC got his Crown lager and I got my LLB.

However, despite the good start, there were some hiccups along the way and we waited a very long time between receiving our drinks and getting any attention again.

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MC had finished his drink, I had almost finished mine.  We both knew what we wanted to order, but we waited a long time before any attention was paid to us.

I watched the staff walk around somewhat lost and saw the lovely owner Kat try to appease some restless diners and I knew something was up.  When she came over to talk to us Kat informed us that they were having some opening day issues- she apologised for the wait and took our food orders, promising that the food wouldn’t take much longer.

It isn’t uncommon to have opening night problems, however a little staff training would have helped alleviate the situation, for example taking orders for more drinks, offering complimentary snacks, apologising for the wait.

Despite this, once the food came out everything was all but forgiven.

Food

When you think of Greek food you think of slabs of feta, cucumber and red tomato, lots of meats and cheese and plenty of pita bread.  This is what MC and I were hoping for when a friend of a friend invited us to the opening of her new restaurant, Platia.

The menu was delicious and featured:

  • Dips such as Tzatziki, Tarama and Tahini with pita bread
  • Spanakopita (spinach and feta pastries)
  • Eliopita
  • Saganaki garides
  • Loukaniko, lounza and halloumi
  • Rocket salad
  • Eliniki Salad
  • Feta and olives
  • Dolmades (vine leaf wrapped parcels of rice and minced meat)
  • Kalamari Rings/Whole
  • Marida (white bait)
  • Fries
  • Crusty breads
  • Toursi (pickled vegetables)
  • Snapper
  • Pan fried octopus
  • Souvlaki- chicken, pork, lamb
  • Lamb Chops
  • Mixed plate
  • Vegetarian moussaka
  • Tavas (a dish of lamb, rice and tomatoes)
  • Afelia (braised pork)
  • Baklava
  • Loukmades (deep fried batter in a syrup with nuts)

MC and I ordered the Halloumi, Tarama and pita bread, Spanakopita, Dolmades, Salata Tou Psara and the Meat Platter.

When the food came out we were super excited. MC and I loved the soft and tasty halloumi – one of our favourites.

The presentation was quite poor and this was something that was reflected in all the dishes which had the same messily plated salad on the side. I think a handful of herbs and a drizzle of olive oil was all this dish needed!

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We also enjoyed the subtle and wholesome taste of the Dolmades which had delicious tender grains of rice, herbs and mince meat wrapped in a lemony vine leaf.  MC was surprised at how good they tasted despite their strange appearance!

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I enjoyed the crunchy Spanakopita triangles- deliciously golden and crunchy and full of spinach and feta.  Perhaps a spring of parsley on top would help with presentation?

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The Tarama was sour and fresh, great with the super soft, warm pita bread. A wedge of lemon on the side would look great and add some more colour to this dish’s presentation.

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We didn’t really enjoy the Seafood Salad as it was quite bland and the seafood was pretty average.  I think some dark rocket leaves and cherry or roma tomatoes with whole calamari rings and large king prawns was more along the lines of what we expected. Nonetheless, it was a refreshing side.

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Finally, the main event: the Mixed Platter.

This platter did not disappoint. There was a generous serving of chips on the side, which were golden and hot.  The salad was bright and colourful (with less lettuce than the other dishes) and the meats were all PERFECTLY cooked.

They were tender and juicy, drool-worthy and moreish.

MC was in love and commented that he didn’t care about the fact that they had hiccups with the service- he would come back again for the food any day!

I think this one is definitely a winner and one for the boys!

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Rating

By the end of the night we were both super full but very satisfied.

We enjoyed our food greatly and also liked the live music and modern decor.

The only downsides was the lonnnnng wait for service and food.

Hopefully next time we go the kinks have been sorted out!

6/10 (but the mixed plate gets a 9)

* * *

Address:  Top Ryde Shopping Centre, 109/129 Blaxland Road, Ryde Sydney NSW

Tel: (02) 9807 3000

Website: http://www.platia.com.au/

Platia Greek Taverna on Urbanspoon

Part 2: Eurotrip Food Adventures

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So part 2 (see here for part 1) of my Europe adventure took me to the most touristy places in Europe -perfect for a first timer!

Wicko and I went on the Essential Europe tour with Topdeck who, I have to say, were great!  We had the best tour guide Michele and the coolest bus driver – Johann! Although we had a bit of a hiccup with the bus not having wifi and being a bit late to pick us up from Calais, apart from that everything else was smooth sailing.

I’ve put together a little collection of photos and I hope you enjoy them!

Stop 1: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The land of coffee shops and cafes (they’re two very different things!), amazing cheese shops and beautiful canals, this was one of Wicko’s favourite cities.

Wicko was obsessed with “Wok to Walk” in Amsterdam city where we got some yummy “choose your own” noodles and also the interesting Manneken Pis fries with sweet and savoury sauces.

I loved the stroopwafels (think flat as a pancake waffles with caramel sauce in between)!

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Wicko’s noodles!

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The infamous “coffee shops”

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Frites and Wafels!

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Stop 2: Rhine Valley, Germany

The Rhine Valley was a short stop and we stayed at a small B&B which offered a wine tasting course and a simple meal.

On the way to the Rhine Valley, however, we spotted a 0% alcohol “beer” and I tried a McDonald’s Germany steak wrap which contained a folded beef pattie…hmmm….

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Not impressed Maccas!

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We loved the beautiful view of the Rhine River and beautiful natural environment.

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Stop 3: Munich, Germany (Bavaria)

One of my favourite stops on the whole tour.

Munich was lively, vibrant, warm and fun. I loved the hearty food, friendly smiles and happy go lucky people enjoying their evenings at the beer houses.

Some of our fave foods were the pork knuckles and the pretzels -mmm!

We also tried Munich’s specialty, the weisswurst (white sausage)= delicious with the hot mustard although very unattractive!

The butchers at the market

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Keeping hydrated with juice from the markets and beer from the Hofbrauhaus

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Pork knuckle and weisswurst

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Stop 4: Kirchberg, Austria

Kirchberg is a small town in Tyrol, Austria.

We had a lovely stay at the quaint Alpenblick Guesthouse where the lovely Kiwi and South Australian couple and their friendly kids welcomed us with big smiles and hearty homemade Austrian meals.

The view was amazing and there were countless outdoorsy activities to partake in, including paragliding, biking and canyoning. Wicko and I chose the 3 hour mountain bike ride and had a blast!

I loved trying the delicious strudels and iced coffee at the local cafe and the homemade local specialities at the Alpenblick.

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Afternoon tea at the delicious Austrian cafe

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Homemade tomato and sour cream soup (amazing) and chicken and rice 20140718_193832 20140718_200018

Stop 5: Venice, Italy

Next was beautiful Venezia. Home of gondolas, masks and all things mystical.

Highlights were a shot of espresso at the Grand Cafe, delicious gelato, the best pasta of my life, trying my first Aperol Spritz and fresh juices and fruits.

A low was the very average pizza my friends got at the cafe where I got good pasta!

Nutella to go on the go

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The Gran Caffe and Gelato shops

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Fresh fruit and juices

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Aperol spritz- so refreshing!

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AMAZING prawn and chilli oil pasta!

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Average pizza :(

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Yummy lolly shops and delicious creamy cannoli!

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Stop 6: Rome, Italy

Ahh Roma! So much history!  We had a blast sightseeing with the crew and enjoyed the pizza and antipasti.

However, towards the end some of us were a bit over the carby pastas and pizza so we ended up having a Thai dinner which realllly hit the spot! Belissima!

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Bruschetta with tapenade and garlic and Wicko with his kids meal (lol jokes it was called “mixed fried”)

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Antipasto and pasta

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Iced coffee and a delicious toasted sandwich of prosciutto and mozarella

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Fresh pizza- better than the one in Venice!

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Thai time!

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Super cool cake at one of the gelato shops

 

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Stop 7: Florence, Italy

A taste of Tuscany was in store for us next with an amazing stop to another of my favourite places- Florence.

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Romantic cobblestones, beautiful views, art, history, food and culture. This place has it all!

We tried Florentine Steak and I had some of the best gelato of my life!

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Stop 8: Lucerne, Switzerland

It’s true what they say- Switzerland is all about the banks, watches, cheese and chocolate.  Well at least for the tourists it is.

We tried fondue, ate lots of chocolate and crepes and checked out the fun Blue Balls Festival with amazing food stalls, live music, arts and craft stalls and outdoor bars.

Another beautiful city with a great summer vibe to match!

Fondue for everyone! and….stroganoff?

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The beautiful Kapellbrucke by day and nightIMG_9357 20140723_214101

Crepes and apple fritters at the Blue Balls Fest!

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Stop 9: Paris, France

Wee Paris was one of the more touristy places we visited but I enjoyed the shopping and atmosphere nonetheless. Nothing beat visiting Laduree and L’eclair de Genie and trying frogs legs- yes, frogs legs!

We enjoyed Tour de France and seeing all the famous sites around town.

Sightseeing non stop for two days- so much to see!

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Dinner in the Monmarte district

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Hall of mirrors at the Chateau Versaille and Notre DameIMG_9609???????????????????????????????

Picnic under the eiffel tower

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Dinner at Champs Elysee featuring foie gras!

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Indulging on pastries and quiches- mmm!

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Maison Laduree- a 20minute wait to get in :/

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Tour de France

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L’eclair de Genie

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Stop 10: Brussels, Belgium

The final stop for the tour was Brussels where we had an amazing tour courtesy of my lovely friend Juju.

Juju showed us around all the main sites and we got to try some amazing pomme frites, waffels and other delectable sweets which were all washed down by some famous Belgian Beer!

Quick fast food stop at Quick!

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Trying out the chippies!

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Famous Pomme Frites and pretty cheap too!

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So many waffles!

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Chocolate shops and sweet shops were very big over there..

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….as was beer!

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We also enjoyed a nice dinner of snails, mussels and more for a great deal thanks to the waiters haggling for our patronage!

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So that’s it, my 2014 Eurotrip.

I’d love to know what you thought, what your favourite European foods were and what you’d like to try next time you are in Europe- please comment below!

 

Orange & Poppyseed Cake (serves 6-8)

This delicious sweet yet slightly crunchy cake is perfect with a cup of tea for a refreshing autumn or winter snack.

I got this recipe from Taste, one of my favourite recipe sites and adapted the syrup recipe.

Ingredients:

Cake

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup poppyseeds
  • 180g  butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 Tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • Grated zest of 3 oranges
  • 1/2 cup orange juice (I used freshly squeezed but bottled juice would give more colour and sweetness)
  • 2 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 2 Tsp baking powder

Syrup

  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1 clove
  • 1 cardamom seed

Method

1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease a 24cm cake pan and line base with baking paper. Grate oranges.
2
2. Place milk in a bowl and stir in poppyseeds. Stand for 20 minutes.
3. Beat butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and pale.
4. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each.
5. Gently fold in zest, juice and poppyseed mixture.
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6. Sift flour and baking powder over top and fold in.
7. Spoon mixture into pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
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8. Cool cake in pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a plate.
9.  To make the syrup, add all syrup ingredients into the pan, bring to the boil then simmer for 2 -3 minutes.
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10. Pour syrup over cooled cake and top with some zest or peel.
Serve as is or with a dollop of whipped cream.
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Enjoy!

Part 1: Cambridge & London Food Adventures – July 2014

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So it’s been about a month since I’ve been back from my adventure abroad and I thought it was about time I posted something Europe-related on TCFB.

While overseas, I stopped by in HK, Dubai and Bangkok and did some sightseeing in Cambridge, London, Amsterdam, Rhine Valley, Munich, Tyrol (Austria), Venice, Rome, Florence, Lucerne, Paris and Brussels.

I ate a multitude of weird and wonderful things from frog legs to pretzels and I’ve put together a little breakdown of them all for my lovely readers!

Part 1 is Cambridge and London and Part 2 will be Europe.

Part 1

Cambridge, UK

My first stop was for a short uni course at Cambridge University in beautiful England.

I loved the stunning green fields and lavender bushes, beautiful old buildings and friendly summer vibe in this quaint little university town.  The history and stunning scenery are enough to make you swoon and I enjoyed some delicious hospitality with breakfast, lunches and tea served daily while we studied at Clare College.

Dinner at the Ronaldo, Cambridge

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Dining at Clare College, University of Cambridge – Breakfast, Lunches and tea20140711_080435 ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? 20140708_081535IMG_7028 - Copy IMG_7032IMG_708820140711_131515??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? IMG_7089 20140708_103805 20140711_104809

Drinks at the Eagle Pub, Cambridge

The famous English Pub known for being the place where Watson and Crick announced they had discovered DNA and where RAF pilots wrote their names on the roof using cigarette butts and lipstick after returning from World War II, was also the site of the first Pimms & Lemonade I had in England.

Deliciously refreshing, Pimms is an alcoholic beverage served mixed with lemonade and/or ginger ale, cut up strawberries, cucumber, orange and mint. It was one of the most pleasant and fuss-free drinks I’ve had and definitely a new favourite!IMG_7041

Cambridge Shakespeare Festival

We enjoyed a lovely picnic of prosciutto, cheeses, fruits, cider, crackers, baguette and dips which we bought at the supermarket, whilst watching A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the lovely grounds of King’s College.

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Dinner at the Anchor Pub

A quaint little pub by the side of the River Cam with a posh pub feel and a delicious menu!

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Tea at the Orchard Tea Garden, Grantchester

The Orchard Tea Garden is located at Orchard House, where poet Rupert Brooke formed The Grantchester Group with some of his friends including poet Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, Augustus John, Russel and Wittgenstein.

My friend DeeV and I caught the bus up from Cambridge on our free day and spent the morning sipping some tea, eating scones and walking around the ‘burbs in Grantchester, marvelling at the tranquility and beauty of the English countryside.

The Tea Rooms were definitely one of my favourite places in Cambridge.IMG_7192IMG_7195 IMG_7197 ??????????????????????????????? 20140709_115721 IMG_7194

Dinner at The Mill

The Mill is a busy and old “pubby pub,” also located by the River Cam. It’s a bit more crowded than the Anchor and also a fair bit more dated.

It has a number of small rooms with tables and chairs and a big bar out the front.

Good atmosphere for us as we watched the semi-finals of the Football World Cup here.IMG_7464 ???????????????????????????????

End of course dinner at Loch Fyne, Cambridge

At the end of our course in Cambridge we had a course dinner at the Loch Fyne seafood and grill restaurant, located opposite the Fitzwilliam Museum.

The building in which the restaurant is located is over 500 years old and the interior has been modernised but still retains some of its original features.

While there was a great atmosphere, and some good pieces, I wasn’t too keen on some of the seafood including the salmon salad which was too dry.  I think I am a bit biased though as we are spoilt with amazing seafood in Australia!

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Crepe Affaire

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English Lolly Shops

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London, UK

Returning from Cambridge, I then stayed at London for three nights (and then another three nights upon my return from Europe).

I did heaps of sightseeing and really enjoyed the fun, lively summer atmosphere.  Will have to return in winter to see how different that is!

Harrod’s food hall 

The Harrod’s food hall is like the David Jones food hall on steroids.

It is full of exquisite (and expensive) gourmet deli items, chocolates, pastries, sandwiches and more.

It was quite crowded and a little chaotic but I enjoyed trying out some of the amazing cakes and sweets they had for purchase.

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Notting Hill and Portobello Markets

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High Tea at Shangri-La @ The Shard

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Marks & Spencer Cornish Pasty

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Supermarket Wines – pre-poured in cups

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Caffe Nero Chai Latte

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Camden Markets

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Amorino Soho Gelato

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As you can see I had some amazing food in the UK- and this isn’t even all of it!

I loved the variety of foods and trying out some new things like cornish pasties!

Hoping to have a bit more time in London next time I visit so I can try out some of their amazing hatted restaurants!

 

Taste of Shanghai, Sydney CBD ($$)

Address:  907/644 George St, Sydney NSW

Tel: (02) 9261 8832

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

* * *

Atmosphere

It was a busy Friday afternoon when Mum and I decided to grab some lunch in our lunch breaks. We headed over to Taste of Shanghai in the bottom level of World Square Shopping Centre.

When we got there, there was a queue with about 6 people ahead of us. We asked how long it would take to get a seat and were told that it would probably be about 15 minutes.

Mum wasn’t keen on waiting but I really wanted to try this place out as I have walked past it so many times, so we decided to wait.

It turned out that the wait was only 10 minutes and we were soon seated at the back of the restaurant at a big round table with two other groups of people.

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The front of the restaurant is average looking but presentable. There are lovely patterned  stencils on the walls and dark brown chairs and tables.  However the back is a bit of a mess: the fish tank at the back and the papers and random signs make it look disorganised and a bit cheap.

Service

Service was disappointing.

We had a look at the menu and after ordering we were told that our meals would take about 30-35 minutes to come out.

We couldn’t wait that long as we had to make it back to work within the one hour lunch breaks we both had so we thought we would ask if they could make our orders any faster or if there was a particular dish that they could make quickly.

After editing our order, we were told the food would take about 15 minutes. Happy with this, we decided to wait.

The staff were a bit like zombies. They didn’t really communicate much and, when they did, they weren’t all friendly. We had one gentleman who was polite and brought us some green tea and water with a smile and a friendly “hello” but all the others were grim faced and sullen; possibly due to the busy shift- but still!

Food

To start off we chose the Pork Dumplings in Chilli Oil. We felt like something a little spicy and this dish definitely hit the spot.

The dumplings were soft, warm and juicy. They were quite large and filled with the delicious pork filling. Really great dish and I would be keen to try some of the other dumplings and pork buns available.

4

Mum decided to order Braised Pork with Rice and Quail Eggs.

I’m not a fan of quail eggs but Mum said they weren’t too bad. Overall the dish was bland with average pork, small pieces and a rice wine vinegar flavour.

3

I decided to go with the Combination Noodles.

Unfortunately, while there was plenty of food, it wasn’t very flavoursome and there were only 3 prawns in the whole dish and a few pieces of chicken and pork. Would have preferred less noodle and more meat!

5

Overall the meal was very average.

If not for the delicious dumplings I would probably never go there again. That said, I will probably return for the dumplings -if only to try the spicy crab meat ones!

Cost

Overall both meals cost about $32.00.

Rating:

Overall I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 4
  • Food- 6
  • Ambience- 6.5
  • Value – 6

Taste of Shanghai on Urbanspoon