Euro Taste Cafe, Top Ryde ($)

Address: Corner Devlin Street and Blaxland Road, Ryde NSW

Tel: (02) 9808 1268

Website: http://www.toprydecity.com.au/dining-a-entertainment/restaurants/item/eurotaste-cafe

Opening Hours: 

8am – 11pm – 7 days a week

* * *

MC and I had originally been hoping to go to Hurricanes in Top Ryde. However, once we got there we found that it was packed out and we would have to wait one hour to get a table.

We decided it definitely was not worth the wait and walked around the restaurants and cafes looking for somewhere to eat. I had already been to Kazbah before, had eaten at Red Spoon Thai in Castle Hill the night before, and had tried The Poets and Sushi Roll previously. We wanted something different and eventually we settled on Euro Taste.

Despite the name, Euro Taste appears to be run by Asians. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but just don’t expect very authentic European food.

The fare is the typical Italian style foods with classics including pizzas, pastas, schnitzel, steaks and grilled salmon.

Atmosphere

There were quite a few people around and the restaurant was busy but as it was a cold night and the only source of heating were the patio heaters, I think most people were just trying to get warm. Euro Taste doesn’t really have much indoor space, it’s mainly outdoors but covered with a pergola. It’s not too bad but some better insulation and cool music would help (listening to Get Lucky by Daft Punk now and thinking that some of this wouldn’t be amiss there :p).

Service

Service was OK. Our waitress didn’t say much and was a bit inattentive. I did notice a male waiter who was very helpful to both his own customers and to us when we needed something.

Food

There was a special deal where you could get a free garlic bread or garlic pizza and we decided to take advantage of it by ordering one of each.

While the garlic bread was pretty average, the garlic pizza was surprisingly good. Not surprisingly because it was garlic pizza (everyone knows that garlic pizza is amazing), but surprising because I didn’t expect this small and (to be honest) pretty cheap cafe to have such great garlic pizza. It was hot, cheesy (could always do with more though- especially around the edges), very garlicky and had a delicious soft base.

1

MC ordered the steak with Pepper Sauce – which was quite peppery. The steak was tasty and quite well cooked, although perhaps a little too well done to be medium-well.

2

My grilled salmon with chips and salad was delicious. The salmon was well cooked, hot and slightly buttery, if a little small. The salad was refreshing AND colourful on the plate and the chips were generous, well salted and crunchy.

3

Overall, a pretty good meal for under $50.

Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 5
  • Food- 7
  • Ambience- 6
  • Value –7.5
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Red Spoon Thai, Castle Hill ($$)

Address: Level Piazza, Shop 7, 6-14 Castle Street, Castle Hill, NSW

Tel: (02) 9899 5669

Email: castlehill@redspoonthai.com

Website: http://www.redspoonthai.com/castle-hill/

* * *

Atmosphere

This chic Thai restaurant is full of elegant wooden furniture, carved screens and rich, deep colours.

The half open kitchen adds some excitement and noise to the restaurant, giving it a more lively atmosphere and outside, patio heaters keep diners warm in winter and the fountain nearby keeps them feeling cool in summer!

Service

We were late for dinner, arriving at about 8.00pm, but I was still surprised that we only had to wait 5 minutes to get a table for 6 on a Friday night.  The place was packed out!

The service throughout our meal was pretty good. At one point the waitress took our steamed rice away and we were left wondering why (as we hadn’t finished eating yet). However, she soon returned with a bowl of refilled steaming hot rice. It would have been nice if she had told us what she was doing first though! Overall staff were efficient, friendly and pleasant.

1 Food

We decided to order 5 curries and steamed rice.

We went with 2 x Massamun Beef, a Crying Tiger Beef dish, Chilli Basil Prawns and Panang Chicken Curry. The Massamun beef was divine. Delicious tender beef, falling apart when gently pushed with a fork. Creamy, spicy curry and crunchy nuts with starchy potatoes. 5 The Crying Tiger was a great novel dish, not one of the typical Thai dishes (red curry, green curry, pad thai). Soft beef strips, slightly pink in the centre and thinly sliced to perfection. The sauce was fishy, salty and slightly spicy- delicious! 3 The Chilli Basil prawn was quite disappointing. The basil flavour was not very strong and there weren’t enough prawns in the dish- a bit unfortunate as I LOVE prawns! 4 The Panang was also not so great. Although it was creamy and sweet, the sauce wasn’t as rich as other Panang Curries I have had before. There was also an insufficient amount of chicken in this dish as well. 6 Overall, not a bad restaurant. Food is pretty good (esp the Massamun and Crying Tiger), service is standard and the atmosphere is great.

Cost

The meal came to $132 all up, including drinks.

Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service-7
  • Food-7.5
  • Ambience-8
  • Value –7

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GPK, Castle Hill ($$)

Address: Shop 10 Castle Towers, Old Northern Road, Castle Hill NSW

Tel: (02) 9894 5900

Website: http://www.gotogpk.com.au/

* * *

A reunion with some of my closest high school friends meant a trip to Gourmet Pizza Kitchen in Castle Hill. We all enjoyed the delicious food and had a great time reminiscing about the past and celebrating Niki’s engagement.

Atmosphere

The atmosphere at Castle Towers’ Piazza is always very good. The Piazza is filled with plenty of great restaurants, cafes and dessert spots. On a Friday night it was suitably busy and the atmosphere in GPK was one of pre-weekend relaxation and enjoyment!

Service

Service was really good, we had a friendly waiter and out meals were brought out quickly.

Food

We ordered a variety of dishes, to share, as well as beers and soft drinks.

Pizzas:

First up we ordered the Geneva which contained pepperoni slices, crispy bacon, semi-dried tomato, mushrooms, capsicum, red onions & cheese served on GPK’s tomato sauce. The pizza base was perfect and there was a good amount of topping on the pizza. A very flavoursome pizza, great for salami lovers!

3

Geneva, $23.50

The Marrakesh pizza had chicken breast fillets marinated with Moroccan spices & char-grilled eggplant served on GPK’s tomato sauce, topped with herbed yoghurt, fresh parsley & a wedge of lemon. The tangy lemon and herbed yoghurt, paired with the chicken and eggplant was a great combination.

4

Marrakesh, $22.90

The Kathmandu pizza was an Indian-styled pizza with chicken breast fillets marinated with tandoori spices & fresh broccoli served on a curry coconut sauce, topped with a mango chutney, herbed yoghurt & fresh parsley. The mango chutney was so sweet and I really loved that part of the pizza. I wasn’t a big fan of the broccoli on this pizza however, as I thought it was a bit unusual in an Indian pizza.

6

Kathmandu, $23.50

The Saigon pizza was tasty and sweet, with a delicious soy-based dressing. This was Niki’s favourite pizza, and I thought it was probably one of the better pizzas I tried as well. It contained tiger prawns with a light honey teriyaki sauce served on Asian pesto, and topped with fresh coriander.

7

Saigon, $23.50

Pastas:

The Chilli Prawn Pasta was one of my favourite dishes. It was quite spicy which made it a standout in terms of flavour and impact. There was a good amount of prawns in the dish, and a large serving of pasta. I would have liked to see some more green, perhaps some fresh herbs, and maybe a wedge of lemon on top, but overall this was my favourite dish.

2

Chilli Prawn Pasta, $18.90

The Basil Pesto Pasta was absolutely delicious. It had plenty of pinenuts, kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes and crumbly feta. A few rocket leaves added some colour to the dish. This would even be great as a main dish for one.

1

Basil Pesto Pasta, $17.90

Salad:

The salad we ordered was just a side to balance out all the pizza. It was quite tasty and included rocket & semi dried tomatoes, tossed in a balsamic & olive oil dressing, topped with roasted pinenuts & shaved parmesan. MC is not a big fan of rocket and so he didn’t touch the salad but I enjoyed the semi-dried tomatoes and roasted pinenuts in this dish.

5

Rocket and Parmesan Salad, $12.90

Cost:

The meal came to $30.00 each, which was $180.00 all up. Not bad for such a feast!

Rating:

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

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

Gourmet Pizza Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Ribs n Rump, North Ryde ($$)

Address: 11 Talavera Road North Ryde NSW

Tel: (02) 9805 1199

Website: http://ribsandrumps.com/

* * *

Atmosphere

For a Saturday, the restaurant was pretty quiet when I got there. However, it eventually filled up, and our sunny and bright spot by the window was quite nice. The music was way too loud at first although eventually they turned it down.

Although the restaurant looks quite neat and tidy, I did notice a few bugs around the place, and at one point a bird flew into the restaurant.

Service

Service wasn’t that great. My friend made a reservation and thought the staff member who made the booking was a little pushy.

The waiter who served us did a good job of checking whether we wanted drinks or entrees, and bringing out our food. However, I was a little annoyed when he said we couldn’t sit outside because they only open that area for groups of 7 or more (we were 5), and later let a couple of other guests sit in the outside area.

Food

I ordered the 350gram Rib-Eye steak which came with a side of fries. I also ordered some spicy sauce to go with it (the mayo on the plate was part of my friend’s meal and was accidentally served with mine)!

I ordered the steak medium-well and it came out perfectly cooked. The chips were absolutely delicious, crunchy and so golden. The sauce was also quite nice.

Overall I really enjoyed this, and would like to try out the ribs next time.

1

350 gram rib-eye steak, $35.95

My friends all enjoyed their meals as well, with most ordering steaks, and one ordering calamari.

 

Rating:

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

    • Service- 5.5
    • Food- 8
    • Ambience- 6
    • Value – 7

Ribs and Rumps on Urbanspoon

Guest Review: Landmark Hotel, Eastwood

Address: 20 West Parade, Eastwood NSW

Tel: (02) 9858 4497

* * *

My trusty junk food reviewers, Sim and Mike are back again with a review of the burger and fries at Landmark Hotel, Eastwood.

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It has beef, streaky bacon, fried onions, mustard, mayonnaise, BBQ sauce and a pickle.

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Check out that cheese and bacony goodness! This is definitely not one for those on a diet!

The guys made a YouTube video review which you can find here.

Overall they rated the meal 9/10 but apparently they “don’t have very high standards” so you may wish to try it out for yourself and see what you think!

DISCLAIMER:

This review is a guest review and reflects the reviewers’ own personal opinions on the product. The Casual Food Blogger accepts no responsibility for anything that is said in this review or anything contained in, or arising out of the videos or photos contained in or referred to in this review. 

Jackson's Restaurant Landmark Hotel on Urbanspoon

Arawan Thai, Ryde ($$)

Address: Shop 2-3, 43 Blaxland Road Ryde

Tel: (02) 9807 1822

Opening Hours:

Monday to Sunday 5pm-10.30pm

* * *

An Ouffer voucher led us to try out Arawan Thai restaurant in Ryde.

Atmosphere

Visiting Arawan Thai is like going on a holiday to an exotic destination. As soon as you walk in, you step away from the hustle and bustle of busy Ryde and are greeted by a beautiful and modern atmosphere which incorporates both exotic Asian decor and sleek, modern furniture.

MC and I loved the decor and the whole time we were there we felt as though we were on holiday somewhere in Asia.

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Arawan Thai’s modern, sleek, decor.

Service

Service was great. Our waiter was friendly and helpful and although his English wasn’t fabulous, it only added to the experience.

We were quickly advised that the deal allowed us to have:

  • 1 Mixed Entree each
  • 1 Main each from the stir-fries or curries section or one from the seafood section of the menu
  • 1 choice of ice -cream each
  • 1 bottle of wine for the table (we chose white and were given a bottle of Chardonnay)

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Food

When the food came out we were not disappointed.

The Mixed Entree contained fish cakes, satay chicken skewers, curry puffs and moneybags with two dipping sauces. It was well presented and the food came out hot.

The satay chicken skewers were divine and the nutty peanut sauce was melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

The moneybags were crunchy and golden and the addition of coconut to the pork mixture inside was a nice touch.

The vegetarian curry puffs were just that little bit spicy and the pumpkin filling was creamy and tasty.

Although I am not a lover of fish cakes, I don’t mind them and these were delicious with the onion and cucumber dressing.

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For mains we decided to order Chilli Prawns and the Panang Chicken Curry with steamed rice.

The prawns weer spicy and cooked just right (not too hard/chewy and not under-cooked). There were some nice crunchy stir-fried vegetables in the dish, although I would have liked to see some snow peas in there.

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The Panang Curry was delicious. The spiciness of the chillis in the creamy sauce was  offset by the mild coconut milk. There was a generous serving of the dish, although there were probably more vegetables than chicken. Nonetheless we absolutely enjoyed this dish and although we ate a lot, we even had about half of it left over at the end to take home.

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Finally we moved on to dessert which was a choice of ice-cream flavours including green tea, mango, coconut, vanilla, chocolate and red bean.

MC chose the mango and I chose coconut. The mango was flavoursome and tasted as though mango pulp had been mixed into it. The coconut was also refreshing and when we mixed the two flavours together it was heaven!

Although the ice -cream was a pretty boring dessert, we were already full at that stage and the creamy, cold ice-cream was a great way to finish off the meal.

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Overall we had a wonderful time at this restaurant. From the atmosphere to the service to the delicious food, everything was enjoyable. MC mentioned that he would return here for lunch one day (as he works in the area), and I would definitely come back next time I’m at Top Ryde.

Rating:

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

    • Service- 7
    • Food- 8.5
    • Ambience- 7
    • Value – 8

Arawan Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Kazbah, Top Ryde ($$)

Address: La Piazza, Top Ryde Shopping Centre, Cnr Devlin Street and Blaxland Road, Ryde

Tel: (02) 9555 7067

Website: http://www.kazbah.com.au

Opening Hours:

Open 7 days:

Mon- Friday 11.00am to 3.00pm and from 5.30pm onwards

Sat and Sun 8.00am to 3.00pm

* * *

After a lovely post-uni/ pre-graduation massage with one of my best friends, we headed to Kazbah for a lazy Sunday lunch.

After checking out the menu and being seated,  the waiter asked us what we wanted to drink before she gave us the menus. Bad start.

We asked for a few minutes so we could browse the menu and then ordered the 2 courses + wine deal. Unfortunately my friend and I aren’t huge wine drinkers so we asked if we could swap the wine for a frappe or juice (both were cheaper on the menu than the wine). We were told that we could not and, a bit disappointed, we ended up ordering a coke and a lift.

We were served water from an interesting looking jug (see below), and we soon received our entrees, which included an assortment of dishes from the mezze section of the menu.

Source: Kazbah website

First out was a trio of dips with some soft and fried Lebanese bread. The dips were yummy and fresh and fried Lebanese bread is one of my favourites!

Dips & Bread 

Lebanese Bread- fried on the left and soft on the right

Babaghanouj, Tzatziki and Hummus (from left to right)

Thinking the entrée was over, we were surprised (but not displeased) to find a mezze plate being placed on our table. The waiter quickly explained what was on the plate, but we barely heard what he said as he spoke too fast.

The plate contained:

  • Vegetarian eggplant samosas;
  • Chicken wings;
  • Grilled haloumi cheese;
  • Smoked salmon with avocado salsa; and
  • Tabouli.

We tried them one at a time, but my friend skipped the smoked salmon as it wasn’t really her thing (more for me!).

I found the samosas quite nice and unusual as I am used to mince meat or potatoes in samosas. They were a little spicy but the pastry was tasty and enjoyable.

We didn’t really know what the wings were, having not heard what the waiter said when he explained what was on the plate. We tried to cut it and realised there was a bone in the middle, and eventually worked out that they were fried wings! There was a tangy but sweet sauce drizzled over the wings and the green leaves added a bit of freshness, which we appreciated. I’m not 100% sure but looking at the menu, they were probably the char-grilled quail with pomegranate sauce.

Next was the haloumi cheese. I had never tried haloumi before and was intrigued by the thought of fried cheese. I expected a tofu-like taste, but was pleasantly surprised to find that it was firmer, and less cheesy than I expected. I really enjoyed this cheese and think I will order it more often and perhaps see if I can find some in the deli next time I’m there.

I tried the smoked salmon and avocado salsa and, being a salmon lover, really enjoyed it. It was fresh and the tomatoes in the salsa cut through the richness of the salmon and the creamy avocado. Divine!

The tabouli was a great way to end the entrée as it was fresh and light.

The mains which we had ordered soon came out: my friend had ordered the Lamb Kafta Shish Kebab, and I ordered the Squid ink pasta with prawns.

 When my dish came out my initial reaction was, “great I’m going to have to de-shell the prawns.” However it wasn’t too difficult and thanks to my years of prawn-eating experience, I had soon de-shelled them.

I was a little disappointed that there were only 3 prawns in the dish. Although they were large, by the time I took the heads and shells off, there wasn’t much of them. However, they were cooked well and tasted great!

Harissa King Prawns, Squid Ink Linguine, Feta, Chakchouka, Baby Spinach, $25.00

The squid ink pasta was something I had wanted to try for a while as I had seen it on MasterChef last season when the contestants were in Italy (see here for an interesting article with more information on squid ink and squid ink pasta). It looks a little bit creepy (like it should be in a halloween movie) but tastes much the same as normal pasta, if a little rubbery. I read somewhere that it should have a salty flavour, but I think the pasta sauce in this dish may have overpowered that flavour a little.

The sauce was tomato-based and quite spicy, but tasted nice and overall, I did enjoy the dish.

I tried a bit of my friend’s Shish Kebab and thought it tasted great. The lamb was well seasoned and slightly charred on the outside and came with a few condiments and sides.

Lamb Kafta Shish Kebab served on pita bread with condiments, pickles, chips, $23.00

On a previous visit to Kazbah I have tried the Lemon Baharat Chicken Shish Kebab ($24.00) and remember thoroughly enjoying it, so I think the Shish Kebabs at Kazbah are a good option for diners wanting a taste of the Middle East without going too far out of their comfort zone!

Cost

The meal cost us about $80.00 all up with a Sunday surcharge of $7.00 and a credit card surcharge (which we weren’t too pleased about) + a small tip to round it up.

Rating

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

  • Service- 6
  • Food- 6.5
  • Ambience- 7
  • Value – 7

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