Guest Post: How To Choose The Best Restaurant

This article was written by Aiden Korr, who writes about food and restaurants. He loves to try different foods from different parts of the world.  He is currently working as a PR Manager for Quintessentially and he is overwhelmed by the quality of service they offer.

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You’ve probably been in this position many times: I have. You’re hungry, you want to eat, you want to eat out but where do you choose. The problem is exacerbated when you’re in a strange city, especially when on holiday because eating out and trying the local cuisine is all part of the holiday experience: so how do you choose the best restaurant?

For human beings, food is a key part of our existence. It’s more than something that you have to do to keep you alive. It can be part of a memorable experience you share with those you love. It can make or break a holiday. Sometimes you want something a bit different from the food served up in one of the national chains. Okay, there’s something comforting in knowing what you can expect: but sometimes you just want more. But where do you start?

Here are a few tips that will help you choose the best restaurant.

1. Get Yourself a Good Guidebook

If you live in a little village where there’s only one restaurant, this tip is not for you. In fact, you can ignore the whole article, unless of course you’re travelling. If you are travelling at home or abroad, one of your key pieces of preparation should be to wise upon the restaurants available during your stay.

Today, the place that you are likely to turn to first is the internet. You will be spoilt for choice. Many establishments will have their own websites. You can also look at the website of the city that you are visiting. They will often highlight places that may not be found in the typical guidebook. Another option is to see if there is an online edition of the local newspaper where you can look at the dining out section to see which restaurants have advertised there.

A good travel guide can give you some useful information. Guides like Fodor’s and Lonely Planet are first class. However, check the date of publication. You know how things change.

Any guide is a snapshot of a moment in time. A good idea is to use the guide as a starting point and then check on the web to see if your chosen destination is still in business. Do bear in mind that travel guides will tend to focus on tourist popular places, and thus you may miss out on a local delight that does not make it between the covers of the guide.

2. Use the Power of Social Media

If you have social media accounts it’s well worth trying your networks to see if anyone can recommend somewhere to you. There is every chance that someone will know someone who has eaten in a restaurant in the city where you are going.

You could try posting a tweet along the lines of “Can anyone recommend a restaurant in…”.

You can almost guarantee that someone will be only too willing to recommend somewhere. You can also try doing a Twitter search the for the city that you are going to.

Local restaurants may have deals on that they are advertising.

3. If You Don’t Ask You Don’t Get

Okay, in the ideal world you’d do all your research before you get to your destination: but the world is not ideal. You may have done plenty of research: but be unable to find what you want. You may have done plenty of research: and the choice is just too overwhelming.

Therefore, you can do far worse than take advice from the true experts: those who live – and eat – in the city.

You’ll find that those who work in the local hotels are very knowledgeable about the places to eat. Remember, they get asked the same thing all the time: where’s a good place to eat.

Having knowledge of where to eat is almost part of their job.

You could also just ask people on the street. You’ll be surprised just how helpful and friendly people can be. You’re in their town and you’re asking them where you can eat. That’s a compliment to them and their town.

DISCLAIMER:

This is a guest post and reflects the reviewers’ own personal opinions. The Casual Food Blogger accepts no responsibility for anything that is said in or caused by this review or anything contained in, caused by, or arising out of, the content of this review.

The Casual Food Blogger did not receive any fee or payment for this article.

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Guest Blog Post: How to Make your Picnic Memorable with Easy Appetizers

This article was written and submitted by a TCFB reader, Katy Cavallero.

For a memorable picnic, prepare unique and mouthwatering appetizers that are also easy to make at home and will transport well.

Ideally, easy appetizers could be prepared the day or night before the picnic so they are ready to go the morning after.

Appetizers are commonly finger foods that need no utensils such as forks and spoons to eat.

Some can be skewered with toothpicks or picked with a napkin, pita bread, or chips. These can include dips, kebabs, skewers, dumplings, pizzas, pies, fries, vegetable sticks, cheese tarts, turnovers, stuffed vegetable, bruschetta, chicken wings, ceviche, cheese puffs, meatballs, pickles, deviled eggs, grilled oysters, clams, or mussels, shrimp cocktail, smoked salmon, caviar, nachos, onion rings, quesadilla, chicken nuggets, and tempura.

Cold vegetable soup recipe or hot chili can also make a satisfying appetizer served with bread.

For a fun and festive picnic, make different kinds of dips and spreads for crackers, chips and pita bread. Not only is this super flavourful, the presentation can also be quite colorful and exciting especially if guests are trying out the dips for the first time.

Some delicious dips you can make ahead at home are artichoke lemon dip, guacamole or avocado dip, hummus, baba ganoush or eggplant dip, cheesy beer dip, chili dip, tomato and black bean salsa, sour cream and crab dip, pesto cream cheese spread, caponata or eggplant relish, tepanade or olive paste, caramelized onion dip, chicken liver pate, curried egg salad, edamame dip, fava bean dip with garlic and goat cheese, mushroom caviar, oxtail pate, salmon spread, shrimp dip, and tzatziki or yogurt dip.

You can also make a seven layer bean dip of refried beans, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, chilies, sour cream.

For a very simple yet elegant picnic appetizer, prepare a cheese plate with different kinds of cheese and pair it with a selection of red and white wines.

You can also make a platter of cheese and cold cuts as well as slices of bread and fresh fruits. For a wonderful meze, you can include olives, roasted peppers dressed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and sundried tomatoes.

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 or caused by this review or anything contained in, caused by, or arising out of, the videos or photos contained in or referred to in this review.

Guest Review: The Australian Youth Hotel – Angus and Bacon Cheeseburger

Address: 63 Bay St  Glebe NSW

Tel: (02) 9692 0414

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

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One of the final burger reviews in the Guest Blog series by Mike & Dave, this review    looks at Glebe’s Australian Youth Hotel.

Let us know what you think in the comments, below!

Mike’s Review

Following the completion of our five-burger challenge, we were informed by Dave that The Sydney Morning Herald’s Pub Food guide team had previously declared The Australian Youth Hotel’s ‘Angus and Bacon Cheeseburger’ as the best burger in Sydney. Naturally, we were inclined to check it out to see how it stacked up against the rest.

Thankfully, the burger lived up to its name. The beef, bacon and cheese melted in your mouth and was complimented nicely with tomato chutney which had sultanas in it – a great touch. I do like a bit of salad in my burger so it was nice to have tomato and lettuce thrown in but the flavours were still very powerful. It was this diversity and a superior bun that helped it to edge The Landmark Hotel’s ‘100% pure beef burger’.

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I gave the Angus and Bacon Cheeseburger a 9.5/10. It’s got everything you need in a burger.

Dave’s Review

The Australia Youth Hotel in Glebe offers a dining environment like no other venue whose burgers we’ve reviewed. Within the white walls of the gloriously quaint old pub is a dining room, where the furnishings and table service are absolutely up to restaurant standard.

These features almost made us hesitate to say “3 burgers please”, as the classic pub burger seemed almost out of place in such an elegant setting. When it came out, however, all such hesitations were swept away.

The burger was incredible. A sensation on the tongue, with texture and flavour melding together in every harmonious mouthful.

Above and beyond expectation was the crowning feature – the relish. As it is usually tasty no matter how or where it comes, relish can be glossed over by burger creators, who spend more time and effort on the paddy.

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The chefs within the Australia Youth Hotel, however, have gone to every effort to ensure that no aspect of this splendid burger has been overlooked. The juicy, succulent, sweet relish was as tasty as you could possibly imagine, and then, on top of that – raisins. I’m not saying that this is unique to the Australian Youth Hotel, but having previously sampled Sydney’s “top 5 burgers” without a hint of a sultana, they were a surprising and most welcome addition.

Now, unfortunately, I have to write that my burger had a faint taste of burnt bun to it, taking away slightly from the experience. Had it not been burnt (and I was assured that my colleague’s were cooked to perfection), I may well have given this a perfect score.

As it was, this burger had to get a 9 out of 10.

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

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 or caused by this review or anything contained in, caused by, or arising out of, the videos or photos contained in or referred to in this review. 

 Australian Youth Hotel on Urbanspoon

Guest Review: East Village- Wagyu Beef Burger

Address: 234 Palmer St Darlinghurst NSW

Tel: (02) 9331 5457

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

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One of the final burger reviews in the Guest Blog series by Mike & Dave, this review checks our the Wagyu Beef Burger at the East Village Hotel.

Mike’s Review

After the long anticipated “Return to East Village” we were finally able to sample the last of the five burgers on our list. Unfortunately, the burger’s fate was sealed as soon as I sunk my teeth into the bun.

Ironically enough, we postponed our review of this burger because they had run out of burger buns and I’ve got to say that it certainly wasn’t worth the wait. The bun seemed to be cold, stale and hard to chew. It didn’t match up with the soft meat patty, cheese and aioli. The tomato relish was also applied fairly lightly and absorbed into the bun so it hardly made an impact.

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The flavours were all there, don’t get me wrong, but the bun spoiled it for me. It wasn’t quite as disappointing as the burger at Three Weeds so I’m going to give it a 7/10.

Dave’s Review

East Village Balmain was to be my first review, but for a cruel twist of fate which saw us awkwardly exit the premises after being informed that the kitchen had run out of buns.

A few months later, we were back, nervous, excited and most importantly, hungry. Somewhat ironically, it ended up in fact being the last burger we reviewed (of the initial 5).

I’ll dive straight in.

The burger was great. It presented well, with cheese and aioli blending in and oozing over the paddy, which was succulent and jammed full of flavour. The chips, delicious, and the salad was served as a side, which was a nice touch. Unfortunately, the burger was let down by the bun.

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I’ll admit straight away that I generally prefer pre-warmed, toasted or charred buns, though, when fresh, an unaltered bun can sink in quite nicely to a warm paddy. With this particular bun, however, I wasn’t impressed. It was almost stale, and certainly detracted from the burger as a whole.

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I would’ve loved to have given the burger a 9 or more based on flavour, however the bun really did bring it down to an 8.

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

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 or caused by this review or anything contained in, caused by, or arising out of, the videos or photos contained in or referred to in this review.

East Village Hotel on Urbanspoon

Guest Review: Royal Exhibition Hotel – The Homemade Beef Burger Review

Address: 86 Chalmers St, Surry Hills NSW

Tel: (02) 9698 2607

Website: http://www.royalexhibition.com.au/BarsDining/tabid/58/language/en-US/Default.aspx

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We have a brand new guest review for TCFB readers! This one is of the Homemade Beef Burger! Check it out!

Michael’s Review

Most of the burgers we’ve tried so far have had a degree of ‘specialness’ about them. While that’s nice in principle, it’s always good to have that old favourite that you can rely on to satisfy your taste buds.
For the Homemade Beef Burger at The Royal Exhibition Hotel in Surry Hills, this burger lived up to its name, as it felt like it had been made with a bit of love and care…the sort of feeling you would get if you were trying one of your mum’s home cooked meals.
The burger had all the classic ingredients – beef, tomato, lettuce, mayo, bacon, cheese, seeded mustard and tomato relish for a bit of kick.
The bun had char marks on top for added presentation and the fries were pretty much as good as what you’d get from Maccas.
I was very content with the burger. All of the ingredients complemented each other very nicely. The only criticism I would give is on the quality of the bun. A little more crunch would have been nice.
This burger didn’t quite reach the level of the burger at the Landmark hotel but nonetheless it was still very impressive.
I give it an 8.5/10.
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Simon’s Review
My relationship with The Exhibition Hotel was off to a rocky start when I received $5.50 change in mostly gold coins. I was required to pay $14.50 for the burger (with a request for no tomato) and paid with a $20 note. I was then given two $2 coins, one $1 coin and a 50 cent coin. I knew they had a $5 note because Dave had just given them one.

However when the burger came out quickly (almost no waiting time) all was forgiven. It was your standard presentation (just the burger and chips). The burger bun was grilled at the top (mostly for presentation) and the chips were the best tasting pub chips I have had.

After removing all the lettuce, I dug into the beef, bacon, cheese, mayo and relish that comprised the burger. Taste was fantastic. Just enough mayo, just enough relish (very nice taste) and just enough cheese. The beef gave you the ‘melt in your mouth’ feeling craved for in a burger.

One down side was the softness of the bun. The bun was easily pulled apart. This can be problematic when you eat your burgers with a knife and fork (like I do). Apart from that, this burger was solid all round.

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I give this burger an 8.5 out of 10. While it tasted nice, it was not as good as the burger from the Landmark Hotel (which rated a 9). As mentioned, I didn’t like the softness of the bun. Will go back to get this burger.

Dave’s Review

At $14.50, the home-made beef burger at The Exhibition Hotel in Surry Hills is the cheapest of all the burgers we’re reviewing. It also arrived in quicker time than any of the previous burgers. Those two factors led to an initial skepticism which was instantly eradicated once the first mouthful of succulent beef patty and perfectly-charred bun passed between my lips and seeped into every one of my taste buds. This burger was near perfect.

The secret was in the simplicity. Just the classics are present: tomato, lettuce, and a beef patty topped with bacon. All extravagance was saved for the relish – perfectly-textured and delicious enough to drink.

My rating of a 9 is the highest mark I’ve given thus far. The only thing lacking was creative presentation and some sort of originality with the chips (simple yet tasty ‘shoestring’ fries), though I am being particularly harsh with this criticism, as anything too creative would’ve taken away from it’s near-perfect simplicity.

In summary, this is just about the only burger I ever need to eat again.

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TCFB: Big call Dave! Great work guys, love the review!

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

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 or caused by this review or anything contained in, caused by, or arising out of, the videos or photos contained in or referred to in this review. 

Royal Exhibition Hotel on Urbanspoon

Guest Review: Woolpack Hotel, Redfern

Address: 229 Chalmers St  Redfern NSW

Tel: (02) 9698 2977

Website: http://woolpack.com.au/

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Sim, Dave and Mike are back again with a review of the Woolpack Hotel. Read on to see what they thought of the Hotel’s burgers.

Michael’s Review

‘Babe the Burger’ – $18.00- includes a pulled pork patty, char-grilled apple, radish, watercress, horseradish mayo, tallegio cheese and redcurrant jelly.

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This burger had a bit of everything. The star of the show has to be the pulled pork patty, which you don’t normally see on your everyday burger. It melts in your mouth and is surprisingly sweet.

Together with the char-grilled apple and redcurrant jelly, the sweetness of these three ingredients is nicely contrasted with the bite of the rocket and horseradish mayo and is topped off in style with tallegio cheese.

There were a lot of flavours at work here. Personally, I’m not a fan of rocket so this burger was never going to reach any great heights for me but I can appreciate the flavour and texture diversity in the burger. The pulled pork was sensational.

I give ‘Babe the Burger’ 7/10.

Sim’s Review

It felt a bit weird eating a ‘Babe’ burger. Then again, I never enjoyed the movie with the talking pig.

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This pork burger was different from the norm. The fruit giving it a somewhat sweet taste. Not necessarily superior but a nice change.

As shown in the video, I picked the rocket off my burger before digging in. If I wanted that I would have ordered a salad.

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The combination of the pork, apple and mayo made for a nice combination. However I believe this burger made the ‘top 5 Sydney burgers’ list based on that novelty and not on the quality of the burger itself.

The decor of the pub was fantastic. Especially as we went at a quieter time. The burger was served with good, crunchy chips too.

Overall I give the burger 8 out of 10. I did not like the rocket and the bun was a bit dry.

Dave’s Review

‘The Vego Drama’ – $15.00. This burger contains two big slices of grilled haloumi, roasted veggies, rocket, aioli.

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The ‘Vego Drama’ enticed me with haloumi and grilled vegetables. Overall it was a terrific burger, but let down by the overwhelming amount of aioli. I have to admit I’m not a fan of the stuff, but more than willing to push through it in the name of a proper review. On this occasion, however,the amount of aioli on the burger would be enough to startle even the most passionate of aioli enthusiasts, taking away from some of the other qualities of the Vego Drama.

Other than that, the haloumi was great (though it is hard for haloumi to disappoint), vegetables tasty and the burger spot on. Unlike the others, I’d eat rocket any day, and it was a great addition as a replacement for the standard lettuce found on most burger.

I’d recommend this burger for vego fans, but be warned about the aioli, which smothered the score down from a 9 to a 7 out of 10.”

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

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. 

Woolpack Hotel & Lounge on Urbanspoon

Guest Review: 3 Weeds Hotel, Rozelle

Address: 193/197 Evans St  Rozelle NSW

Tel: (02) 9818 2788

Website: http://www.3weeds.com.au/

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Simon, Mike and our friend Dave visited the 3 Weeds Hotel in Rozelle to review their burgers.

After an initial hiccup, they were finally able to try out the Hotel’s offerings and it seems it was worth the wait!

IMG_0257Here’s a link to the YouTube video.

imageDISCLAIMER:

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.