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

Address: 86 Chalmers St, Surry Hills NSW

Tel: (02) 9698 2607


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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.


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

Fat Buddha, QVB Sydney ($$)

Address: Level 2, Queen Victoria Building/455 George St Sydney NSW

Tel: (02) 9264 9558


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They say it is lucky to rub a laughing buddha statue’s stomach. MDS and I decided to give the statute at the front of Fat Buddha a rub before entering for dinner with out friends. Turns out we weren’t very lucky in our choice of restaurant, but hopefully the luck shines through elsewhere!


Fat Buddha is one of the more well-known restaurants in Sydney’s beautiful Queen Victoria Building. I had seen the signs advertising this restaurant around the Town Hall train station and wanted to try it out. A dinner with some of my uni friends gave us the chance to check it out.

The location of the restaurant, being in the beautiful QVB in Sydney’s CBD , is convenient and central. The interior is modern, clean and quite spacious.


I definitely rate Fat Buddha’s aesthetics. A very elegant and formal looking restaurant.


Service wasn’t great. We weren’t exactly welcomed at the door but rather, had to ask the young-looking lady at the front desk if we could do yum cha. She said yes and an older gentleman who appeared to be the owner (?) led us to a round tabel by a window.

Throughout the night service was quite poor. Yum cha orders are taken by marking on a piece of paper, which dishes you want. There isn’t much information about each dish apart from the name in English and some other details in Chinese.

At one point the staff ran out of something we ordered and brought some other dish out to us without asking if we wanted that instead. Pretty poor.


The food was quite nice and although our friend, AsianChuckBass, didn’t think it was that great (he’s the expert, you know), it was quite tasty, if a little overpriced.

We ordered:

  •  Black pepper beef ribs- $9.50

These ribs weren’t very nice. It wasn’t a great cut of meat, with chewy bits of fat on it and a drippy sauce. The portion size was small, and being ribs, most of it was bones. Not a fan.


  • BBQ Pork Buns- $6.50 (my favourite!)

These were delicious, soft and sweet yet a little spicy. Excellent, almost as good as Din Tai Fung’s! We ordered 3 of these all up.


  • Prawn dumplings -$9.50

Prawn dumplings were delicious. Soft prawn meat, slightly salty dumpling. I loved these dumplings and thought they were just so delicious. We ended up ordering another round of these lil’ babies.


  • Steamed Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf- $9.50 

This dish was something quite unique. It was basically some (mushroom) flavoured steamed rice with chicken, wrapped inside a lotus leaf. The leaf looks quite dry and old and not very appetising at all, but the rice itself is fragrant and smoky. Something interesting to try next time you’re at yum cha!


  • Vegetarian dumplings- $7.50

These dumplings were soft and tasty, great with soy sauce. Small portions for the price and they don’t look very pretty, but they’re not bad.


  • Vegetarian Spring Rolls- $7.50

The spring rolls were crunchy and great with the dipping sauces we were given. I am not a huge fan of mushroom but the mushroom was not too overpowering so it was still enjoyable.

  • Deep Fried Rice Paper Prawn- $9.50

Although delicious and crunchy with a soft interior, this dish is quite overpriced for only four wontons. Nonetheless it was one of my favourite dishes.


Inside of the prawn wontons:3

  • Spicy Salt & Pepper Calamari -$15.90

Despite the name, this dish wasn’t spicy at all. There was quite a generous serving of it, however (possibly a good indication of portion sizes for the a la carte menu). The calamari was crispy and crunchy and had a lovely salty taste. Great dish.



This meal cost us about $27.00 each.


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

    • Service- 4.5
    • Food- 6.5
    • Ambience- 5
    • Value – 5.5

Fat Buddha Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Thyme Square, Hornsby ($)

Address: 5/43a Florence Street Hornsby NSW

Tel: (02) 9476 0700


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The news of my friend’s engagement to her long-term boyfriend brought us to Thyme Square for some Sunday morning brunch!

Prowsey, Kate-T and I chose a cosy booth for our morning coffee and breakfast spot. We were greeted by a nice waitress who was pretty efficient despite telling us that she was new to the job. She soon took our orders and the coffees and my chai latte were soon brought out.


Chai tea latte

My chai latte was delicious and creamy, very soothing and quite tasty with the honey. A good choice!

While Prowsey and Kate-T both chose the Bacon & Eggs with a cappucino, I opted for the Smoke Salmon breakfast. This option included toasted wholemeal bread (although I ended up getting sourdough), smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, half an avocado, and rocket, all for $15.50.

The Bacon & Eggs contained two eggs with bacon and toast for $13.50. The girls also ordered a side of spinach and mushrooms (extra).


Smoked salmon breakfast

I really enjoyed my meal. The avocado was a little hard, not ripe enough, but that is something which isn’t always controllable!

The eggs weren’t as fluffy as I would prefer them to be but were still tasty and enjoyable.

There was plenty of salmon for the amount of eggs and toast, and the toast was crunchy and delicious.

I didn’t see any rocket on the plate however, which was a little disappointing as it could have done with more greens!

Also, the girls asked for some Turkish bread but also got sourdough -perhaps they ran out? Either way we should have been told that there was no Turkish bread instead of just being served a different type of bread.

Overall there were some minor issues but the place is quite cute and cosy and the food pretty tasty and reasonably-priced.


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

  • Service- 5.5
  • Food- 7
  • Ambience- 4.5
  • Value – 6.5

Thyme Square Cafe on Urbanspoon

Rice Paper Rolls

On Tuesday I made some delicious rice paper rolls for the family for dinner.

I used tuna and shredded roast chicken with an assortment of vegetables and mint.

Here’s how they turned out:



Delicious AND healthy! What more could you ask for?

Boca Argentinian Grill, Darlinghurst ($)

Address: 308-310 Liverpool Street Darlinghurst NSW

Tel: (02) 9332 3373


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I returned again to de Boca to try some of their other tasty offerings.

My friend, a Spanish speaker, chatted to the friendly staff and we were very pleased with the service there.

Although small and not very fancy, de Boca is popular among locals and the office crowd. We had to wait about 5-10 minutes for our food, but only because there were a few orders before us.

This time around I ordered the Lomito Roll ($5.00) -char grilled rump steak slices tossed in a garlic, parsley dresssing with aioli. The steak was cooked to perfection, pink on the inside and charred on the outside. It was tender and juicy, full of flavour and absolutely perfect with the green tangy sauce.

I also ordered some Tapioca chips with paprika seasoning ($3.00). While there was only a small serving of these large, stringy chips, it was more than enough for me as I didn’t really like the somewhat bitter flavour of the chips. The paprika seasoning didn’t do much for it either and I would have preferred some salt on it as well. My Spanish-speaking friend said one of the staff members told her they would put salt on it for us next time we came around.

Overall, a delicious and filling lunch which I really enjoyed.


Boca Argentinian Grill on Urbanspoon

Meatballs (makes about 18)

These meatballs are perfect as an appetiser, with spaghetti or pasta, served with couscous, shaped into koftas, or even just on their own with a salad.

They are fast and simple to make and taste delicious. Try them out for yourself!



  • 500g mince meat
  • 1 Tbsp Montreal steak spice (or substitute with any seasoning of your preference e.g. cajun)
  • 1 Tsp mixed herbs
  • 3 Tsp breadcrumbs
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to season


1. Defrost mince meat and put into a mixing bowl.


2. Add Montreal steak spice, herbs, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper and garlic to the bowl.


3. Mix together by kneading with your hands until the spices are evenly incorporated into the meat.

4. Shape tablespoon-sized amounts of the meat into round balls.


5. Heat the oil in a pan on high and add meatballs. Cook for about 10-15minutes until golden brown on the outside and cooked through on the inside.

6. Remove meatballs from pan and drain on paper towels.