N2 Extreme Gelato, Chinatown ($)

Address: Shop 43/1 Dixon St  Sydney NSW

Email: sydney@n2extremegelato.com.au  

Website: http://n2extremegelato.com.au/

Opening Hours:

7 days a week, 1pm to 11pm

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Here’s an ice cream related post in honour of the English summer, while I am away!

N2 Extreme Gelato is a gelato store in Chinatown, Sydney (also on in Melbourne) which has featured on numerous blogs and websites since it opened last year.

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Why is it any different from all the other gelaterias around town, you might ask? Well, the difference is that N2 makes gelato using liquid nitrogen.

According to Wikipedia (come on, we all use it!), Liquid nitrogen is nitrogen in its liquid state, when at an extremely low temperature.

Is it dangerous? Well, as N2′s website says, liquid nitrogen is safe as it is “non-toxic, non-flammable and it constitutes 78.09% of the earth’s atmosphere”.

Wikipedia states that liquid nitrogen’s culinary use was first mentioned in a book in 1890!  As it is so cold, it produces a cold steam of nitrogen bubbles which cause rapid freezing on contact with fresh food and produce.

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Liquid nitrogen at work!

Upon entering N2, you feel as though you are in some sort of secret lab (although it is not so much of a secret these days!).  It is a dark space, with interesting pictures of anatomy on the wall.

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The random chalk board scribbles make it seem as though you are in a mad scientist’s lab, watching some exciting and innovative creations unfold, while the colourful chairs add a playful feel to the space and brighten it up.

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Behind the counter is a blackboard with the daily specials. These change regularly, although you can sometimes get the previous day’s gelato as well, depending on how much is left over.

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I visited N2 on two consecutive days.

The first day I tried the Lemon Lime and Bitters gelato ($6.00).

After ordering, I watched as my lemon lime gelato was made in the coloured magic mixers. The misty concoctions were interesting to watch and I loved the cute beakers that were used to hold the ingredients.  The lab coats also added to the experience.

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I watched as a creme brulee ice cream was made, with a blow torch to make the sugar coating at the top of the ice cream golden!

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When my gelato had been made, it was sprayed with Angostura bitters to give it a beautiful orange glow.

Presentation wise, it was lovely and glossy, scooped generously into a cup and piled high. I thought half a slice of lime or lemon would have looked cute, pushed into the top of the gelato.

While you can order two scoops, at N2 Gelato it would probably be unwise as the servings are quite large!

My first taste: it was delicious. The gelato was fresh, creamy yet light and so tangy. I love the taste of lemon and fresh citrus fruits, and it was perfect for the warm summer day.

I definitely enjoyed this flavour!

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Lemon lime and bitters gelato, $6.00

The next day, I returned with Kiwi Kompanion for some more. It was 30 degrees and we were craving some ice cold salvation (or should I say salivation?).

Kiwi Kompanion went for the Pear and Blue Cheese gelato, the interesting N2 Black order of the day ($8.00).

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Kiwi Kompanion with her gelato

This ice cream had pear inside the ice cream and a chunk of blue cheese on top. It was decorated with a crisp water cracker.

At first, Kiwi Kompanion thought it was a very odd taste, and despite being a blue cheese fan, she wasn’t sure whether she liked it.

Later however, after trying a bit of ice cream on the cracker with some brie, she began to warm to the taste and ended up finishing her whole ice cream- a good effort!

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Pear and blue cheese gelato, $8.00

I chose the Black Salted Caramel ($6.00). One of my favourite flavours, salted caramel has been quite popular in the past couple of years, perhaps since Adriano Zumbo introduced salted caramel macarons!

The gelato came topped with some black salt, which was so salty I had to stir it all in so it wasn’t too strong.

This ice cream was much much creamier than the Lemon Lime and Bitters one I had the day before. It was also a lot thicker and actually resembled the sticky, stretchy consistency of salted caramel or dulce de leche.

It was absolutely delicious and I was pleased with my choice!

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Black salted caramel gelato, $6.00

Overall, I really enjoyed both my visits to N2 and will be making many more return visits over the coming summer months!

N2 Extreme Gelato on Urbanspoon

Contrabando, Sydney CBD ($$)

Address: 21 Bent St, Sydney NSW

Tel: (02) 9231 0049

Website: http://www.contrabando.com.au/contact-1/

* * *

MC and I returned again to Contrabando, this time to try out the new menu.

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Service

Upon arrival, the lovely wait staff greeted us and recognised us instantly from our previous visit.  They were super friendly and made us feel like we were right at home, always paying attention to our needs and offering advice on the special items on the menu.

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Food

The food came out quickly and one after the other so we could enjoy each dish as part of an informal degustation, although the dishes were left on the table for us to pick at if we had not finished them by the next dish.

We started off with some olives (various types), marinated in olive oil and salt. MC is not a fan so he passed on these but I enjoyed them and loved the saltiness to get the palate started before the rest of the meals.

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Next were the Clarence River School of Prawns which we had tried previously. Super crunchy and well seasoned they were great with the glossy squid ink aioli.

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We then enjoyed the wagyu brisket sliders which had soft bread and a tangy blue cheese creme with pedro ximenez onions. They were a decent size and packed with lots of flavour. I loved the tangy dressing on them and the soft bun.

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We also enjoyed some duck fat potatoes: baby chat potatoes cooked in duck fat until crispy and just right. The potatoes were a good bulker and went really well with the rosemary salt.

20140401_204910The Lamb Skewer. The skewer was cooked on the rotisserie. It was a little difficult to eat as the pieces of meat were quite large and also a bit chewy.  However, the flavours were strong and the meat was quite filling.

We also had a fresh salad on the side to go with the other dishes which freshened up the dense potatoes and meat. Despite not being a salad lover, MC tried a little and seemed to like it and we got through most of the dish. The freshness of the licorice-like fennel and the vinegar dressing cut through the fatty foods we had previously and made for a light refresher which we both needed as we were getting very full!

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Finally, we had a dessert consisting of banana, vanilla bean gelato, dulce de leche and crushed nuts and biscuit. It was heavenly and the perfect mix of sweet and fluffy to finish off the meal.

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Overall, another enjoyable meal. We love Contrabando’s interesting style, great service and unique menu and would come here again!

Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service-9
  • Food-8
  • Ambience-8
  • Value –7.5

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Candelori’s Ristorante e Bar, Smithfield ($$)

Address: 685 The Horsley Dr, Smithfield NSW

Tel: http://www.candeloris.com.au/

Website: (02) 9729 1155

* * *

This review was written by MC for TCFB.

Candelori’s is owned and operated by the Candelori family since 1999 and provides a beautiful, high quality venue for social and business occasions in the Western Suburbs of Sydney. Located in Smithfield, Candelori’s has recently undergone an extensive renovation and a revitalisation of their menu.P1000227

P1000231This is my (MC’s) first solo review for the Casual Food Blogger and I was glad to be part of the big reopening night for Candelori’s. I have previously been to Candelori’s many times since their beginning in 1999, and looked forward to seeing the freshly renovated restaurant.

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Atmosphere

Candelori’s has always been a very classy restaurant and a popular venue for special occasions, family celebrations and general social dining.P1000190

The location is unique, being in Smithfield in Sydney’s west, as most fine dining restaurants are located in the City and East..

The restaurant has undergone a renovation to coincide with an updated menu.

The restaurant has as a formal dining venue in an area generally such special occasions are reserved for a trip into the city or elsewhere.

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Once inside, the atmosphere, décor and quality of service make you think that you are in the heart of the city. There is a sense of elegance around the restaurant and this is amplified by the colours, fittings and decorations. The interior designer should be applauded as they have created a formal dining restaurant equal to or greater than many of the same category of restaurants located in the CBD or elsewhere.

Service

On previous visits to Candelori’s, their service has always been outstanding and the launch party night was no exception, with the wait staff friendly, helpful and prompt in checking on the status of drinks, clearing empty plates and restocking table water, bread plates and any other items on the tables.

For drinks I was offered a glass of House White Wine upon arrival and I kept with that for the evening, until having to stop since I was driving. There was also a House Red available on the tables, with the wait staff refilling both very promptly. A choice of sparkling or still water was also available for the table, again the staff being quick to exchange an empty bottle for a new one.

Food

The menu for the launch party consisted of trademark dishes from Candelori’s as well as a selection of items from the updated menu.

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Before being seated, there was an array of appetisers available, including olive tasters, antipasto and a mozzarella twisting demonstration.

The Stuzzichini (“Finger Food”) items were the first of the food items to be brought out. Though not being a fan of olives normally, the crumbed (and fried!) olives were very nice and I don’t mind saying that I had 4 of them. The mixed bruschetta plates were also very nice, with the tomato, basil and garlic on ciabatta bread being a great combination of fresh tomatoes and well-cooked, crunchy bread.

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Crumbed Stuffed Green Olives

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Mixed Bruschetta

La Tavolata (“The Table”) followed soon after, with a wide range of dishes being brought out in groups of three at a time, being shared between six people. This allowed each person to have one serving whilst allowing for those who desired a second.

The Antipasto Board carried a range of thinly sliced meats, Sardinian crisp bread and parmigiano cheese which served as more of an additional entre rather than part of the main. The meats were smoked and cooked to perfection with the bread living up to its crisp name.

The Octopus Carparccio had a fresh taste with a moist texture befitting an octopus dish. The octopus pieces were finely cut and saturated in the marinade, with the aromas of all the ingredients well present.

The Buffalo Mozzarella was nothing short of fantastic, with the taste and texture making it one of the best cheeses I have ever eaten. This was the favourite amongst the ‘first round’ of dishes.

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Antipasto Board

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Octopus Carpaccio

The next batch of dishes started with Zucchini Flowers, stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach, covered with a lightly fried batter. The crunchy exterior and warm soft interior textures provided a nice combination of flavours in the mouth.

Also included was a dish of Oven Baked Figs. Admittedly the green of the figs did not look appetising, however once tasted that thought vanished. The prosciutto taste added to the flavours of the fig and the gorgonzola sauce.

The favourite of this dish was definitely the Gamberi in Tegame, consisting of tiger prawns, cherry tomatoes in a sauce containing olive oil, garlic, parsley, pomodoro and chill. This dish had all the flavours and textures I enjoy.

Lastly for this batch was the Gnocchi with Duck Ragu. An interesting dish, the meat was cooked perfectly and the sauce was rich, thick and very flavoursome.

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Zucchini Flowers

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Oven Baked Figs

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Gamberi in Tegame

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Gnocchi with Duck Ragu

Two pizzas were included in the menu however only one made it to our table, which was a disappointment. The pizza I did sample was the Woodfired Pizza Margherita D.O.C. Anybody who loves pizza would appreciate the base, toppings and crust of this pizza. The rich cheesy and tomato flavours combined with a crispy base and crust make for a great meal. I went for seconds (and perhaps thirds).

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Woodfire Margherita

The final dish of the night was, in my opinion, the best and I was glad I allowed extra room for dessert. The Crespelle was a mascarpone crepe with rich dark chocolate crushed hazelnuts. A raspberry was added for a fresh texture, but the taste of the chocolate inside the crepe was fantastic and my only disappointment was when I had very quickly eaten all of it. Let this be a lesson for all to save room for dessert; this was brilliant and a great way to end the food servings.

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Crespelle

Summary

Candelori’s is a wonderful experience for those seeking a formal, elegant Italian restaurant. For those who rarely venture west of the Sydney CBD, it is assured to be well worth the visit for the quality of food and service you will receive.

The proprietors should be proud of their achievement and continue to give customers an exposure to the kind of high quality dining normally reserved for waterfront boutique venues.

Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service: 9/10
  • Food: 9/10
  • Ambience: 8.5/10
  • Value: 7.5/10

MC dined courtesy of Candelori’s and Wasamedia.  All opinions are however, our own.

Candelori's on Urbanspoon

The Colonial Restaurant, Darlinghurst ($$)

Address: 118 Crown Street Darlinghurst

Tel: (02) 8084 6700

Email: bookings@thecolonialrestaurant.com,au

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

Opening Hours:

Tues to Sunday

Lunch- 12.00pm to 3.00pm

Dinner- 5.00pm to 10.30pm

* * *

Last Friday MC and I visited The Colonial in Darlinghurst.  The Colonial is a British Indian style restaurant which features a mix of Indian dishes with a British twist.  We were interested by the idea, having heard of a few other British Indian style restaurants, but never having been to one.

Atmosphere

The restaurant is a quick ten minute stroll from Hyde Park, which makes it perfect for post-work dinners!

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The interior is decorated with mirrors, candles, chandeliers and neutrals.

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It is quite a bright and inviting space, and very modern and clean.

 

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There is a bar on one side of the restaurant…

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and the kitchen is at the back.

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The British Indian theme is brought in with pictures on the wall, including the London Buses and Charlie Chaplin.

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Overall, a very modern and spacious environment which made for a comfortable start.

Service

Service was great and MC and I both enjoyed talking to our lovely waitress.

She told us about her experiences at The Intercontinental and later, we heard from Manager Janark about how she is a huge hit with all the diners.  It was easy for us to see why; a super friendly smile, professionalism and a good knowledge of the menu is what made our meal at The Colonial all the more enjoyable.

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We were given a couple of menus to browse while we waited for our drinks.

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I chose a pineapple juice and MC a coke.

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Food

To start with, complimentary pappadums with mint sauce. The pappadums were crunchy, large and flavoured with cumin.

MC loved them and said they were “better than chippies”- a big call coming from the number one potato fry fan!

I loved the sweet mint sauce.

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Pappadums, $3.00

Our friendly waitress informed us that the platters would be enough for two, so we ordered the Non-Vegetarian Platter.  We were impressed by the beautiful presentation and good portion size.

The platter featured delicious Tandoori Chicken Tikka which consisted of beautiful pieces of marinated breast chicken, cooked to perfection.

We also enjoyed the Lamb Lollipop, a lamb chop marinated in yogurt and spices and served with mint sauce.

The Tangari Kebab chicken drumstick was a little disappointing as I am not a huge fan of drumsticks and we didn’t really taste much flavour.  The drumstick was also a little undercooked.

However, the delicious Keema Samosa was the redeemer and absolutely delicious with soft, buttery pastry and a well-seasoned and flavoursome lamb filling.  Amazing- I am drooling as I type!  We enjoyed it with the chutney which was sweet and spicy.

Overall an amazing start to the meal!

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Non -Vegetarian Platter, $10.00

Then came the mains.

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For starters we had the Lamb Korma, mild lamb with a creamy and thick cashew sauce. One of my all time faves and the lamb was cooked perfectly.

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Lamb Korma, $17.00

Next was the Chicken Chettinad, boneless chicken pieces with curry leaves, coconut cream, mustard, spices and chilli.

An unusual flavour combination but still quite tasty, we enjoyed the unique flavours.

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Chicken Chettinad, $16.00

The vegetarian option, Paneer Makhani, was amazing. The best cheese curry I have ever had! Perfect texture, creamy sauce, a vegetarian’s dream!  You would think cheese in a curry would be an odd combination but this is a match made in heaven, a must try!

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Paneer Makhani, $16.00

We ordered sides of Garlic Naan, which was buttery and puffy but could have done a little longer in the oven as the garlic was a little under.

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Garlic Naan, $3.50

I have a bit of a thing for rice; I can eat it on it’s own and love it freshly made and steaming hot.

On our waitress’ recommendation we had the Peas Pulao Rice, which had white and yellow rice with peas, shallots and onions mixed in.  Delicious buttery flavour, fresh peas and beautiful colour.  Loved it.

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Peas Pulao Rice, $5.00

We had a small raita to go with the curries, it was fresh, creamy and thick and a great way to cool down after the spicy curries! Perhaps not worth $4 though!

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Raita, $4.00

Finally, although we were bursting at the seams, we could not leave without trying dessert.

We did want the Creme Brulee but unfortunately it wasn’t available so MC chose the mango kulfi on my recommendation.  It was creamy, had a strong mango flavour and a hint of cardamom. Very refreshing and a light end to the meal.

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Mango Kulfi, $6.00

I had been dying to try the Rasmalai on my friend Ash’s recommendation.

Rasmalai is a Bengali dessert of Paneer (like cottage cheese) immersed in a creamy milk and topped with pistachios.  I decided to order it and was super pleased with the choice.  It was creamy and had a very funny texture that was pleasant yet unfamiliar. I loved the sweet milk around it and the crunch of the nuts.  A new favourite!

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Rasmalai, $6.00

Summary

The food here is amazing, the decor very neat and tasteful and the service excellent. The dishes are very reasonably priced and the restaurant is located about a 10 minute walk away from Hyde Park.

Great food and wonderful experience, will return.

Rating

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service-  8
  • Food-  8
  • Ambience- 6.75
  • Value – 7.75

TCFB and MC dined courtesy of The Colonial.  All opinions are however, our own.

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Nick’s Seafood, Darling Harbour ($$$)

Address: The Promenade/Cockle Bay Wharf, Sydney NSW

Tel: (02) 9264 1212

Website:  http://www.nicks-seafood.com.au/NicksSeafoodRestaurant.htm

* * *

MC and I visited the beautiful Nick’s in Darling Harbour for dinner one lovely summer’s day.

We were impressed by the fantastic service, pleased by the lovely view and satisfied with the tasty food.

Atmosphere

Nick’s has a cool and chilled out beach meets fine dining atmosphere and is perfect for dates and business meetings, in particular!

The atmosphere at Nick’s Seafood is really great on a summer day as you get a great view of Darling Harbour and the lovely sparkling water.

You can find great restaurants, little shops and cool bars so it is a great place to chill out after work or on the weekend and the place is abuzz with all sorts of people, tourists, locals, school kids and workers.  There are even fireworks some Saturday nights!

Service

The staff at Nick’s were friendly and we felt as though they were always there if we needed anything but perhaps they were a little too present as you don’t get much privacy when they are always wondering around near your table.

Food

We started off with garlic bread, which was a great choice as the bread was toasted and crunchy Turkish bread with a delicious hint of garlic.

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Garlic Bread, $4.50

I chose the Garlic King Prawns for my main (the daily special that was on for about $36.00).

There were four large prawns, which doesn’t sound like a lot but there was quite a lot of flesh so it was very filling.

They were served with a delicious buttery garlic and herb sauce which was great with a squeeze of lemon.  The prawns were cooked perfectly and the dish was well presented.

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Garlic Prawns

We had a side of chips which were crunchy and thick cut, but which lacked seasoning and seemed as though they weren’t very fresh.

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Chips, $6.00

MC ordered the Tasmanian Salmon Tail with saffron pilaf.

It was presented in a cute manner with the saffron pilaf at the head and a beautiful, large salmon tail at the end.  The dish was colourful and the salmon meat was well-cooked, with a delicious crunchy skin.

There was plenty of fish but MC said the pilaf was not very flavoursome.

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Tasmanian Salmon Tail with Pilaf, $39.00

Overall, we had a very pleasant and enjoyable meal. We really liked the flavours of the seafood, Nicks’s specialty, which they do very well!

Rating

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

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

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