Mr Crackles, Darlinghurst ($)

Address: 155 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst NSW

Tel: (02) 8068 2832

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

* * *

Atmosphere

One lunchtime KiwiKompanion and I decided to check out Mr Crackles after discovering it was really only a 10 minute walk from work.

When we finally got to the Oxford Street store, we found a small hole-in-the-wall takeaway joint with benches and stools lining the walls on both sides.

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The large blackboard lists the interesting and exciting rolls on the menu including The Crackles Classic, The Sweet Pork, The Lamb, The Chicken Katsu and The Vego.

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To the right is a glass cabinet with huge pieces of pork crackling which had us drooling!

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Loud and distracting music was blaring from the speakers, and KiwiKompanion and I were not too keen on sitting around so we ended up ordering quickly and eating again small park.

Service

Service wasn’t anything amazing and we didn’t even find that the staffs were friendly or even helpful.  We ordered our food and waited about 5 minutes to receive our orders, which were called out to us by one of the staff members.

Food

I ordered The Crackles Classic and KiwiKompanion ordered The Lamb.

The Crackles Classic contains five spice pork belly with crispy crackling and Vietnamese salad. The pork was soft, juicy, tasty and had a delicious super crispy skin. I also enjoyed the crusty roll and the tangy mayonnaise in the coleslaw style salad. Delicious!

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Crackles Classic, $12.00

KiwiKompanion’s lamb roll had rosemary and garlic infused lamb shoulder with caramelised onion, tahini  and spinach. She also enjoyed her roll and commented that the meat was soft and tender.

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The Lamb, $12.00

Overall, the food was amazing and one of the top rolls I have ever had.

A great foodie experience that I highly recommend!

Rating

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service-  4
  • Food-  7
  • Atmosphere- 3.5
  • Value – 7

Mr Crackles on Urbanspoon

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SoCal, Neutral Bay ($$)

Address: 1 Young Street, Neutral Bay NSW

Tel: (02) 9904 5691

Website: http://socalsydney.com.au/

* * *

I had seen SoCal pop up on FB a few times and was pretty curious to find out what it was all about.

Sydney’s North Shore isn’t exactly a hip and happening spot for a night out.  A few places such as Blackout Cafe, Cabana Bar, the Greengate, Kipling’s and The Far North have improved the North’s nightlife, but apart from these you have to trek about 40 minutes on a train into the city to get a good bar.

I was super excited when I then got an invite from the lovely Jo at Pendulum Communications, inviting me to the SoCal launch on Tuesday.

MC and I caught the train to North Sydney after work and jumped on a bus for a 5 minute ride to SoCal.

It is pretty easy to get to on the way there but the irregularity and infrequency of buses on the way back makes it a little difficult to stay out very late if you’re not driving or getting a lift.

That said, Neutral Bay is a nice area and SoCal or even The Oaks would be great for a day time visit for lunch on the weekend.

Atmosphere

SoCal is a new initiative by Chef James Privett of Bistro CBD, and Hamish Watts and Ben Carroll of Applejack Hospitality (which also own Bondi Hardware and The Botanist).

The place has a 2.00am licence and can fit 100 diners inside and another 50 outside.

As we walked in and up the flight of stairs we were greeted by about three different ladies all dressed in various shades of yellow.

The girls were all friendly and welcoming and invited us to take a seat somewhere while drinks were being prepared.

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We chose a seat outside at one of the little tables in the middle of the court yard and had a look around.

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The outdoor area is full of bright and summery colours, particularly blues, yellows and oranges.  The white furniture and planters contrasted strikingly with the colour and gave the place a very beachy and fun look.

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I could definitely see the Southern Californian touches with the painted stools and South American influences such as habanero sauce on the table and palm trees around the courtyard.

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The outdoor area also had a semi-covered pergola with coloured lights which looked beautiful at night time.

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After a few hours outside, we began to get a little cold (summer hasn’t quite kicked in fully), so we decided to move indoors.

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SoCal’s indoor section has beautiful cushions, high tables and a bar area with a DJ and stools around a tiled table.

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It’s a cosy and fun setting and the chilled out atmosphere, combined with funky unique music and funny bar tenders makes for an awesome hang out spot!

Service

Once the place started to fill up a little, the staff came around with some drinks.

The menu on the table featured a variety of cocktails, wines, beers and spirits.

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On offer were some of the American brands such as Pabst Blue Ribbon, Pacifico and the very Mexican, Coronas.

MC enjoyed both these beers and had quite a few!

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I, on the other hand, went for the Del Martini, featuring vodka, peach liqueur and nectar, lime juice, sugar and peach bitters.

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The martini was delicious, very sweet and fairly strong, just the way I like it.

The beautiful bright yellow and the refreshing mint leaf made it feel very tropical and I enjoyed pretending to sip on a cocktail and imagining I was at a beach house in Mexico.

Food

Once the food came around (past the other hungry scavengers waiting by the kitchen and the bar to grab some!), we were quite pleased with the variety on offer.

First up was a Hawaiian Tuna Poke. What is a “tuna poke” I hear you ask?

Well I thought the same thing. A quick Google informed me that it is a raw fish appetiser, served in Hawaiian cuisine.

This “poke” was served on a toasty corn tostada.

I really enjoyed the refreshing taste of the slightly oily tuna combined with a little lemon or lime juice and fresh herbs. MC, who is not really a fan or raw fish, and who only ate sushi for the first time a few years ago, actually had a second serving of this tuna poke when it came around AND he enjoyed it. Amazing!

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After a loooong food drought during which one waitress kept serving food to the same crowd of people, leaving none for us, MC finally managed to pick up two hot dogs on his way back from the bar.

The hot dogs, SoCal Chilli Dogs, were mini frankfurts on a soft and chewy bun, topped with black beans, chilli, cheese, tomato sauce and mustard.

They weren’t my favourite thing on the menu (especially when I ate parts that weren’t covered in the chilli) but MC enjoyed them, so maybe it’s a dude food?!

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Next up were the Crab and Sopressata Empanadas.

These tasted a bit too fishy for my liking, but the crunchy pastry and creamy sauce (I don’t know what was in it) were delicious!  The pastry reminded me a little of the pastry used in Sri Lankan patties.

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We managed to pick up some Pollo Loco Pinchos – spiced chicken skewers on rice with sauce Mole.  The cute boats were perfect for this dish and made it look very beachy and exotic.

The chicken pieces were well cooked through without being too dry and the quinoa, pea, lemon and herb mixture was very fresh and light.

I really enjoyed this dish and would order it again.

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Finally, for dessert, we had Churros with Chocolate Sauce. Of course, being a sugarholic, I loved this!

The churros were tasty and golden, cooked until crunchy and coated in cinnamon sugar.  The dark chocolate sauce was a little bitter for the churros but was a nice way to end the meal.

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Overall

Overall, MC and I had a fun night out at SoCal.

We enjoyed the music and fun atmosphere, loved the funky and beachy decor, and enjoyed the interesting and unique food on offer.

This will definitely be one of summer’s hot spots on the Lower North Shore.

Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 6.5
  • Food-  7
  • Ambience-  8.75
  • Value – 7

TCFB and MC were invited as guests of Pendulum Communications and SoCal.

SoCal on Urbanspoon

Buns & Balls, Potts Point ($$)

Address: 33 Bayswater Road, Potts Point, NSW

Tel: (02) 9326 9054

Email: info@bunsandballs.com.au

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

Opening Hours:

Tues – Fri: 18:00 – late
Sat – Sun: 15:00 – late

* * *

Reviewed by: Wicko

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Buns and balls is a beautiful restaurant “in the heart of Potts Point”. True to its name it features a range of meatballs, and burgers, as well as a variety of freshly made cocktails to go with.

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It advertises itself as “a burgers and booze joint with a twist in the heart of Potts Point”.

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Atmosphere

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The restaurant is only a short walk away from the main street of Kings Cross, perched in a cozy corner underneath a nice looking apartment building.

The vibe of the place hit us instantly as we walked in.

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The layout was nice, with an inside and outside area.

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Having this option is always good.

The area was very comfortably decorated, and I felt it presented the character of the place very well.

The roof was decorated with writing, as were some of the walls.

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I often found myself reading them with interest, had I perhaps been there with someone I had recently met, I can imagine these being very helpful conversation starters or points of discussion.

I was certainly impressed with the amount of people eating there, for a Tuesday night, it had gathered a considerable crowd, creating a buzzing yet relaxing atmosphere which contributed greatly to the mood.

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This was helped by a relaxing mix of music which I thoroughly enjoyed.

I overheard that song requests could be made if you asked them online (most likely on their Facebook page).

Service

After being greeted straight away, we were guided to our table, where we were soon happily sitting with freshly made cocktails in our hands.

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Watermelon, lime and vodka cocktail, $12

t was freshly made and tasted amazing. This cost $12 with alcohol and $7 without. Considering the freshness and quality of this, I feel that it is an appropriate price.

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Pineapple, ginger beer, vodka and bitters, $12

This I did not like. I feel this is due purely to my personal dislike of the taste of regular ginger beer; it seemed only as if the bitters made it worse.

I found that the service was great, we were frequently checked on by the friendly staff, yet not in an annoying way, or during the middle of a conversation.

They seemed to have a great knowledge of all their products, and were very enthusiastic about what they were selling.

Food

Our food came relatively quickly, and was well spaced out, it seemed that each consequent part of our meal come exactly when we were about to move on.

Soon we were given all the flavours of meatballs that they had to try. All of them cost $9 for about 4-5 meatballs. This is quite expensive and would not be satisfying to order on their own.

The flavours were;

  • pork and beef in a chunky sauce with shaved parmesan (tasted amazing, it was soft, had a crunch and seemed to have a punch of flavour)

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  • barramundi croquettes with tartare sauce (similar to the beef and pork in texture, but definitely my personal favourite)

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  • chicken in a spicy Louisiana sauce (I found it very tasty, however my sister though it was a bit too spicy so I can understand some people not liking it)

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  • tofu meatball (while this isn’t strictly a “meatball”, it was potentially the best tasting tofu I have ever had; the tofu was cut up very small and had some shallots in it).

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We ate these with a side of garden salad.

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Green Salad, $7.50

We also got Spicy Louisiana Chicken Wings, which I devoured happily.

They had an amazing crunch and taste to it, but admittedly I did have to reach for a drink for relief once or twice, however I overall felt that the reward outweighed the cost. A bit less chilli might make it more appealing to those who aren’t keen on the hot stuff!

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Spicy Wings, $1 each (either 3, 6, 9)

Next came the main event, our burgers.

TCFB got a Grilled Chicken Burger with BB’s chilli sauce, while I got the Char-Grilled Cheese Burger.

TCFB really enjoyed the chicken burger and loved the sauce and texture of the chicken. We were told that the sauce is the original Oportos recipe which Gary, the owner of Buns and Balls kept when he sold Oportos, his previous business.

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Chicken Burger, $10

I really enjoyed the beef burger.

It seemed as if the beef was just perfectly cooked and spoke for itself. In comparison I felt that the chicken’s sauce did the talking for that burger, which is fine as chicken often has less flavour than beef, I find.

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Char-grilled Cheese Burger, $10

Last of all came our deserts.

Served on one wooded board was both an ice cream sandwich and doughnuts in chocolate. The doughnuts were amazing, they didn’t feel heavy or oily at all, but were simply crisp on the outside and soft on the inside; the chocolate sauce that we dipped them in complemented it perfectly.

TCFB preferred this; however my obsession was with the ice cream sandwich.

It was one of the best tasting cookies I had ever had, sandwiching in the ice cream between its choc-chips. The warmth of the cookie and the coldness of the ice cream contrasted well, and I was definitely a fan of this desert.

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Donut bites, $8 and Ice Cream Block, $14 to share (with 3 sandwiches)

P.S Here are some pics of more food we tried when we visited another time:

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Hand-cut and twice cooked fries, $8.00

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Sweet potato fries, $9.00

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Overall

The food tasted amazing and it was a great night with a great atmosphere.

The music was great and it was pleasantly filled with a good amount of people. Service was quick and friendly.

While some items may be considered slightly pricy, I feel it is a great place to go with friends or family for a tasty feed!

Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

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

Buns & Balls on Urbanspoon

Chur Burger, Surry Hills ($)

Address: 48 Albion Street Surry Hills

Tel: (02) 9212 7979

Website: http://churburger.com.au/

Opening Hours:

Mon 11:30AM – 5pm
Tues – Sat 11:30AM – 10PM
Sunday Closed

* * *

After some Thursday night shopping and a little Nespresso tasting at Westfield Sydney, MDS and I headed over to Chur Burger in Surry Hills.

I had heard good things about this place, a new Sydney foodie hotspot which has even been described as having Sydney’s best burgers (Good Food, SMH).

Atmosphere

MDS and I walked in, past some people who were sitting outside.

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We didn’t know about the set up or how the whole reservation thing worked so we just waited near the door until someone came over to us.  We were told that we could get a table in 15 minutes, so we put our names down on the list and waited outside with the others.

We waited just 10 minutes before being shown to a high table with some stools around it.  While we had to share our table with two other groups, the table was pretty wide so we didn’t get in anyone’s way.

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Inside, Chur Burger has a very hip hop warehouse feel to it. There is loud music playing in the background (Kanye West at the time) and a large kitchen area on one side. You order at a small window on the right side of the room, and pay upon ordering.

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It was a bit of a different set up to anywhere else I have been and as I am a fan of hip hop, RnB and rap, I enjoyed the music and loved the chilled out atmosphere.

Service

Service was quite average and we didn’t have much interaction with the staff. However, the girl who put our names down for a table and greeted us was pretty friendly.

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Our food came out quickly and with no fuss and our used plates and cups were soon cleared away.

Food

MDS and I ordered a burger each and decided to share chips.

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I ordered the Grilled Chicken, Hot Sauce Mayo and Minted Slaw burger ($10.00).

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The burger was pretty large and although I was hungry when I started, I couldn’t finish the whole burger. I ended up leaving the bun and eating the filling!

The sauce was not hot at all but it had a nice spicy tang to it. The slaw was tasty and fresh and the chicken had a lovely charcoal taste, which I enjoy.

MDS ordered the Pulled Pork, Chur BBQ Sauce, Red Slaw and Fennel Mayo burger (also $10.00).

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She enjoyed this colourful burger, but she too could not finish the whole thing.

For sides we shared the Chips with Chilli Salt ($5.00) and the Sweet Potato Fries with Garlic and Lime ($5.00).

The chips were crunchy and hot and the added kick of chilli was great!

Sweet potato fries are healthier than regular fries, and the sweetness of the thick cut chips was nice.  I couldn’t really taste much of the garlic and lime though.

Overall

I definitely think these burgers are some of the best I have had. There is some great variety on offer here, the burgers don’t take long to cook, service is fuss-free and the atmosphere is great.

A very cool option for a late night dinner and there is also a dessert and milkshake menu!

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Cost

Our burgers and fries came to $30.00 all up.

Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 6.5
  • Food- 9
  • Ambience- 8
  • Value – 7.5

Chur Burger on Urbanspoon

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/

* * *

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/

* * *

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

Jafe Jaffles, Opera House Sydney ($)

Address: Opera House Sydney

Tel: 0466 343 133

Website: https://www.facebook.com/JafeJaffles?group_id=0

* * *

Atmosphere

Atmosphere was obviously amazing as it was located near the Opera House, with a gorgeous view of both Vivid Sydney and the Harbour Bridge (see The Lowenbrau review for photos).

The little truck means there are no spots for seating, but the cute truck makes for an interesting dining experience!

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Service

There is a guy out the front of the truck calling out names and taking orders who is very friendly and talkative. He was the only person we really had contact with and he was really nice.

Food was quick out of the kitchen so we didn’t have to wait long- although even if it did, we wouldn’t have minded as the view is pretty fabulous!

Food

Mattycakes ordered a pork jaffle and a nutella one.

The pork one was more golden, soft and full of delicious filling.

The nutella jaffle was delicious and sweet, the perfect dessert or midnight snack! There was plenty of filling and the crisp toast and melting ice cream was a great combination together. The only thing that was missing was some banana on top!

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Cost:

Each jaffle was about $7-8.00.

Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

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

Jafe Jaffle's on Urbanspoon