Product Review: Domino’s Peri Peri Pizzas

What is it: Domino’s Peri Peri Pizza

How much is it: $8.95 each

Where to order it: http://www.dominos.com.au/menu/pizzas

Contact:  Domino’s – 1300 366 466

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Thanks to Domino’s Australia, I got to try out the new Peri Peri Range, retailing for $8.95 each.

A delivery of three pizzas, a garlic bread, cold Coke and a lover’s lava cake arrived at our door and we were soon stuck into the pizzas!

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In the boxes were the Chicken Peri Peri, Beef Peri Peri and Prawn Peri Peri pizzas.

First off, the prawn.

It was bursting with freshness from the fresh, just cooked prawns to the juicy cherry tomatoes and green spinach. Delicious flavours and generous amount of prawns and vegetables.

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Next was the beef.

The beef pizza was a little dry. The sauce helped a little but I could do with more sauce due to the dryness of the beef. Not much vegetables on this one- definitely for the guys and kids!

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Finally, the chicken.

Soft chicken breast,  fresh vegetables and lots and lots of melted cheese.

A beautiful looking pizza and a very nice tasting one too. I really enjoyed the crispy crust and creamy cheesy centre.

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Rating

I give the prawn an 8/10, the chicken a 6/10 and the beef a 6/10.

Disclaimer: TCFB sampled the Peri Peri pizzas courtesy of Domino’s. All opinions expressed on this blog are entirely my own and are not intended to be factual and/or taken as advice. 

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Gama BBQ, Turramurra ($$)

Address: 1/1380 Pacific Highway Turramurra NSW

Tel: (02) 9988 4939

Website: http://gamabbq.com.au/

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Atmosphere

The atmosphere was a little quiet as it was early on in the week and there weren’t many customers around. However, the sounds of the TV playing The Voice and the sizzling BBQ made it the place a little more interesting and no doubt Fridays and Saturdays are busy nights for this little suburban restaurant.

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Entrance to Gama BBQ

Service

Some would say service is pretty average as when we walked in the owners themselves were cooking at a bbq table! It was a bit unusual for a restaurant but my family, MC and I all thought service was great. Why? Because the owners were extremely friendly, very helpful and welcoming.

Although they were eating their own meals nearby, the lovely gentleman came over to set up our BBQs and teach us how to use it, would come and change our hotplates when they became charred from the meats, and would check the temperature of our BBQs.

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The BBQs

The friendly lady made us tea and coffee and would now and then answer my mum’s questions about Korean food.

They were both so friendly that we felt like they too were guests who were dining with us.

Food

The food was quite good. I have only had Korean food a couple of times and so I was interested to see what the Korean BBQ would be like.

The restaurant is set up with the hot plates on each table and a separate area for the buffet. You choose your own meats (including pork, beef, rump, wagyu, prawns, NZ mussells, octopus, marinated chicken etc) and bring them over to your table where you cook them to your liking.

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My dad and brother choosing their meats

You can also choose from steamed rice and soup, a variety of pickles including Kimchi and radish, lettuce and carrot, garlic, onions, and various sauces (such as BBQ sauce, tomato sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, satay sauce and chilli sauce).

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Pickles, kim chi and salad (bit of a mess!)

The variety of foods on offer and the option of cooking with different sauces made the experience really exciting, especially for the younger ones who tend to get bored at dinners. Needless to say, my brother and MC had a very enjoyable time cooking their own meats!
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My brother enjoying cooking his own food

There was plenty of food available, even though my family are big eaters. My dad enjoyed the prawns, MC enjoyed the beef and my brother and I enjoyed the chicken.

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Some of the raw meats- marinated chicken, wagyu beef, angus steak and bacon

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Cooking the meat

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BBQ prawns, meat and chicken

Summary

Overall the food was tasty, the experience interesting and the service friendly and welcoming. We would definitely return to try this again, perhaps next time we will ge the Hot Pot!

Cost:

Gama BBQ’s Korean BBQ buffet costs between $25-30pp.

Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service-6.5
  • Food-6.5
  • Ambience -5
  • Value –7.5

Gama Korean BBQ Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Service Review: Rhys Barrington Private Master Class

What is it: a private cooking class by a trained Chef

For more information: http://rhysbarrington.com/

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About the Chef

Rhys Barrington is a Chef from New Zealand.

He started off as an apprentice at the Crowne Plaza in Christchurch before winning the New Zealand Toque D’or 2010 (a national competition for Junior Chefs) and becoming a finalist in the 2010 Fonterra “Proud to be a Chef” competition.

He then began working at the exclusive Blanket Bay Lodge in southern New Zealand.

He eventually moved to Sydney, decided he loved it and made it his home.

He gained further experience working at The Four in Hand restaurant in Paddington and eventually found his calling as a private Chef, cooking for people in their homes.

Rhys’ One on One Classes

Rhys runs one on one group training sessions for people in their own homes – teaching them how to cook – usually over a twelve week period.

The price is $250 per 3 hour session (excluding cost of food) for one person and a friend and the content and recipes are tailored to what each pair wants to learn.

Rhys provides all recipes, tailored to each individual’s kitchen and interests, and classes are held at the person’s house. Alternatively, a kitchen can be hired to run the classes in.

Rhys also does private dining events for cocktail parties, sit down dinners and other events, which is great for a special occasion.

Rhys Private Master Class

Rhys also runs Master Classes which cost $95 per person.

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I was contacted by Rhys a few months ago but due to other commitments we never actually got to tee anything up to discuss his new projects.

A short while ago he contacted me again regarding attending a Private Master Class session with a few other bloggers and some customers.

Wicko and I attended the class, located in Bondi. There were tables of 4-6 people per table and we were seated with a lovely and friendly couple towards the front of the room.

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Each table had a worksheet with the recipes for each course inside, and a pen to write notes with.

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The class began with a glass of white wine, poured and served by Rhys’ lovely helper, also a former Four In Hand employee.

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Rhys then spoke a little about himself and what we would be doing that day , before serving us the first course, Prawn Salad with Tomatoes and Asparagus.

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I thought the salad was lovely. While it was quite small, it was simple and light, would be perfect for summer and seemed to contain fresh and high quality ingredients which were inexpensive and easily accessible.

Rhys gave us some tips about the dish and how to prepare vegetables and prawns.

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He also taught us how to make “tomato water”, a clear liquid of pure tomato flavour which is perfect for dressing a salad or dish.

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Tomato water, looks clear doesn’t it?!

He then showed us how to actually present the dish on a plate, giving us tips such as working with the natural curves of the food and plating the dish in a straight line through the middle of the plate.

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Next up was the Braised Beef with Carrots, Fennel and Aioli.

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Some volunteers were chosen to come up and help Rhys with the dish.

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During the cooking process, we were served a glass of red wine, which Rhys said would perfectly complement this dish.

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Again Rhys showed us how to plate the dish. I liked the fact that each step was broken down and he really took the time to show us what was happening, coming around with plates and bowls of sauces and ingredients to show us what they should look like.

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We all gathered around to take photos and get a closer look.

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More volunteers came up to try their hand at plating and attempt to implement Rhys’ tips! ???????????????????????????????

The beef, carrots and salad, all plated up!

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The carrots had been cooked in orange juice, with a small sliver of ginger and then roasted in the oven until they were soft and tender.

The orange juice gave them a sweet yet tart flavour and they were probably the best carrots I have ever tasted!

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The fennel salad was light and fresh and went really well with the crisp radish and fresh leaves.

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The beef. The star of the show, it was tender, could be broken apart with the back of the fork, and was moist and full of flavour.

The delicious glossy gravy, a mixture of red wine, tomato juice, stock, tomato paste and herbs was shiny and flavoursome and just glided over the chunk of beef.

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Finally, we went over dessert, the Chocolate and Berry Summer Crumble.

Rhys explained that this dish was easy to make and cost-effective as well and explained that the texture of the chocolate part of the dish would be interesting and novel.

He began with the chocolate ganache mixture, going around the room to show us what it should look like.

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When the chocolate part was done, he showed us one he had prepared earlier, all cut into slices.

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He then went over how to prepare the berries. It was very simple: cut the strawberries, sprinkle with icing sugar and allow to macerate.

For the cherries, a simple syrup of sugar and water with vanilla was made and the cherries were infused in it for sweetness.

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When it was all ready he again showed us how to plate it up.

You can see Simon from Simon Food Favourites in the background getting the money shots! 🙂

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Finally, the dish was plated up, again with the help of volunteers.

The end result? Spectacular.???????????????????????????????

The dish was something you would expect to be served in a hatted restaurant. It was well presented, tasted divine (especially that chocolate jelly/ganache), and was also the perfect combination of fruity and sweet.

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Overall

Our overall experience at Rhys’ Master Class was fantastic.

Rhys was welcoming, entertaining, funny and very skilled.

We learnt a lot of great tips about how to make simple vegetables taste delicious, and got some great recipe ideas.

It was a fun night out and I think Rhys’s class would be great for a Christmas or engagement present, a birthday party or pre-hens night dinner.

His private classes would be perfect for proposals or special occasions and a great gift for those who have always wanted to learn how to cook.

I would definitely suggest giving Rhys’ class a go.

If you are interested, more details can be found on his website (above).

Thai Passion, World Square Sydney CBD ($)

Address: Shop 12, 123 Liverpool Street Sydney

Tel: (02) 9264-5665

Email: order@kokorogroup.com.au

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

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Atmosphere

Thai Passion is tucked in a corner of World Square, behind the Rydges Hotel and some other little restaurants.

While the colours used in the restaurant are warm and inviting, it is not a particularly striking place.

Nonetheless, the space is cosy and at lunchtime is full of busy workers keen for a quick Thai curry or a hot stir-fry.

MC and I were no different, looking for a place to keep warm and stay out of the chilly winter breeze.

Service

Service was average, as we had to look around and wave someone down to get their attention to order, get the bill, get water etc

Other than that we had an enjoyable time as the food came out quickly (very important when you are on the go). There were even a bunch of coppers having their lunch at one of the tables 🙂

Food

We started off with the veggie spring rolls. They were very very hot (almost burn my mouth in my excitement and rush to start eating).

Nonetheless they were great with the sweet and sour sauce. There were quite a lot of mushrooms in there, and the rolls were quite large and worth the $8.50.

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Next up was my choice, the satay chicken with rice. While the satay flavour was nice, I was hoping for a thick, rich, nutty sauce with plenty of chicken pieces and a few capsicum strips and snow peas.

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What we got was more of a stir-fry, with a few pieces of chicken, some veg (including the odd addition of lettuce!?!?!) and a somewhat thin sauce…

That said the sauce has a pleasant flavour and as we were starving, we devoured the meal.

I also loved the white rice as I have a strange obsession with steamed rice, especially the kind you get at Asian restaurants.

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MC chose the Chilli Basil Beef stir-fry with egg noodles. We got thin egg noodles with the dish. My preference is for the thick ones and these looked like the typical 2 minute noodle packet ones.

That said, the basil flavour in the dish was really prominent and the beef and vegetables were well cooked. While MC left his snow peas and capsicum on his plate, I demolished the veg and really enjoyed the fresh lime over the top of the beef. Great flavours in the stir-fry but the noodles could be better.

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The verdict? Well the place serves up OK food at a good price. While the spring rolls were the highlight, the other dishes weren’t bad but were nothing special.

Rating:

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

  • Service- 5
  • Food- 5.5
  • Ambience- 5.75
  • Value – 7.75

Thai Passion Plus at World Square on Urbanspoon

Top Speed Thai, Willoughby ($$)

Address: 331 Penshurst St, North Willoughby NSW

Tel: (02) 9417 7500

Website: 

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Atmosphere

My family and I decided to check out Top Speed Thai on Sunday night for an early 5.30pm dinner. Located in the North Shore suburb of WIlloughby, TST is a modern-style Thai restaurant with pleasing aesthetics and a warm atmosphere.

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We were surprised to find that the restaurant was quite busy. There were three other tables of about 4-5 people and a couple of tables of 2. Not bad for a Sunday night. On top of that, plenty of people came in for take-away. A busy restaurant is always a good indication of the quality of the food!

The wooden tables and cute candles make TST look quite cosy, while the dark decor and pink and gold accents add some vibrancy to the space.

I liked the general set up of the restaurant except for the fact that some of the staff were making spring rolls and food on a dining table at the back of the restaurant, which was visible from our table. This was a little odd and I think, they should have used a screen to cover that area up if they were going to use the space for food preparation.

Service

Service was quite good. The staff were friendly, and food was VERY quick- we barely waited 10 minutes before we were served our first order although the food did not all come out at the same time. Further, our water was filled up promptly and our wine (corkage $2.00 pp) was cleared away when we had finished.

Food

To start off we ordered the Gai Satay, “tender marinated chicken breast on skewers, grilled and served with peanut sauce.”

This dish was delicious and was served with a sweet watermelon flavoured syrup with chilli floating in it, and a thick, crunchy peanut satay sauce. The chicken was delicious and moist and the dish was a winner with all of us!

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Gai Satay, $7.90

Next up were the Curry Puffs, “assorted vegetables cooked with Thai herbs and curry powder, then wrapped in puff pastry and served with sweet chilli sauce.”

This dish was great too. The pastry was lovely and crispy, obviously fresh and made hot to order. The filling was quite spicy, but that’s exactly how it should be so I was quite happy with this dish.

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Curry Puffs, $6.90

For mains we ordered Cashew Chicken with Chilli Jam Sauce which was a chicken stir fry with cashews, vegetables including onions, broccoli and carrots, chilli jam and chillis. This is usually a classic Thai dish and one of my favourites but I was disappointed that the sauce wasn’t darker and thicker. It wasn’t very flavoursome and although it tasted OK, was a bit of a let down for me given my love of this dish.

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Cashew Chicken with Chilli Jam Sauce, $16.90

Next up was Satay Beef which contained strips of beef stir-fried with vegetables in a peanut sauce. I did enjoy this dish and my brother loved it, having a second serving and pouring all the sauce into his bowl!

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Satay Beef, $16.90

We also ordered the Volcano from the Sea, “a steamed combination of seafood (prawn, fish fillet, squid, mussels, scallops and egg) in red curry sauce and coconut milk.”

This came to the table on fire, with some oil around the foil being lit for special effect and to keep the dish warm. What a dramatic entrance! Once the fire went out we opened up the foil to find a delicious creamy coconut sauce with perfectly cooked seafood inside. There were also some steamed leaves (bok choy) in the bottom of the dish, but we didn’t eat them as they seemed a little odd in a creamy curry and we were beginning to get full. However, all up the curry tasted delicious and for mum and I, was a favourite.

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Volcano from the Sea, $22.90

Finally we ordered the Lamb Cutlets in Massaman Curry. This dish consisted of 4 lamb cutlets with massaman sauce, Thai spices, baby potatoes and cashew nuts. It was delicious. Although the serving was quite small, the lamb was very tender and soft. The curry was creamy and rich and the dish was very well presented. The soft, starchy potatoes were great with the creamy sauce. A fantastic dish which is quite different from the usual Thai fare!

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Lamb Massaman Cutlets, $20.90

We also had steamed rice to go with the food, at $3.00 per person.

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Cost

I had a voucher for dinner for two which cost $40.00 on Groupon. I decided to take my family along as well and so we ended up paying another $45.00 for their meals. All up dinner cost $85.00.

Rating:

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

  • Service- 7
  • Food- 7.75
  • Ambience- 7
  • Value – 8

Top Speed Thai 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