New Shanghai, Chatswood Chase ($$)

Address: Lower Ground Level, Chatswood Chase- 345 Victoria Ave, Chatswood NSW

Tel: (02) 9412 3358

Website: http://www.newshanghai.com.au/splash.php

* * *

Wicko and I attended a menu tasting at New Shanghai in Chatswood.

Wicko has started covering a few more events for me as I try to manage work and blogging and transition to being a part-time uni student from March onwards.

This event was particularly appropriate for him  as he went to school in Chatswood so knows the area quite well.  He also is quite a fussy eater so I thought exposing him to something different would be good to develop his blogging palate!

???????????????????????????????

Atmosphere

The restaurant is located in the food court of Chatswood Chase shopping centre, so we decided to park in the centre and walk down.  This was a good idea on the way there, but was a little creepy when we had to walk through the shopping centre in the dark on the way back!

The atmosphere at the restaurant was a little different to what I had expected.

It was a lot darker, almost a little grungy and it gave off a “busy modern city meets traditional tea house” vibe.

The place was packed out with busy diners, quite good for a Wednesday night out of the CBD.

IMG_6404

There is a small drinks bar on one side, featuring prints of a smiling Chinese girl and a large printed umbrella.  The colours brighten up the dark space and the slightly faded look gives an “old-yet-new” feel.

IMG_6406

There was also a private dining room which was being used when we entered (this photo is from after the meal as I did not want to take a photo while there were people in there).

I loved the red, shiny bamboo wall paper on the walls, an elegant way to brighten up the space.

IMG_6461

Wicko and I also liked the glass windows (similar to those at Din Tai Fung), which showed off the skills of the dumpling and bun makers, kneading and rolling away until each dumpling was perfect.

???????????????????????????????

The final touches were the antique-looking carved wooden windows ….

???????????????????????????????

the red windows and bunting….

IMG_6412

and the bamboo coloured neutral table settings.

IMG_6403

Service

We were looked after by the friendly and pleasant Jerry, the Chatswood Manager who was overseeing the staff taking our orders and delivering food.

After perusing the menu, we ordered drinks.

IMG_6409

IMG_6410

Some chose pineapple, some Yakult and others pineapple an coconut.

The drinks took a while to come out and all came out at different times but they were really nice and worth the wait.

Wicko chose a Kiwi Blended Ice which was not at all sour, like some of the kiwis you find here. It also contained large chunks of Kiwi on the top.

???????????????????????????????

Kiwi Blended Ice, $5.80

I chose the Lychee Blended Ice, which I found tasted like lychee jelly, rather than fresh lychee, which was not a problem for me as I love lychee jelly anyway!

The drink was refreshing but I would have liked some pearls or jelly in there like at Easyway and Chatime.

???????????????????????????????

Lychee Blended Ice, $5.80

The lovely Georgie, who was sitting next to me, chose the Strawberry Blended Ice, which came out topped with a couple of strawberries and some mint.

IMG_6426

Strawberry Blended Ice, $5.80

Food

Food. Boy was there a lot of it.

The menu at New Shanghai is seasonal except for the key basic dishes so in order to try a bit of everything we had both Dim Sim and Mains to share.

We started off with the delicious pillows of pan fried pork buns that were soft on top, crisp on the bottom and full of juicy pork.

IMG_6417

Pan Fried Pork Buns (8 pieces), $10.50 

Next were the Xiao Long Bao, pleated dumplings with a delicate and soft skin, these dumplings were bursting with broth and pork flavour. Delicious and quite a generous serving for the price!

???????????????????????????????

Xiao Long Bao (8 pieces), $7.80 

One of the more exciting dishes on the menu and definitely one of my favourites, was the Prawn Wonton tossed with peanut butter, red chilli oil and spice. The creamy, nutty flavour of the peanut butter (which you can see in the middle) was perfect with the spicy chilli and cool cucumber and the prawns were cooked until JUST done!

???????????????????????????????

Prawn Wontons with peanut butter and chilli sauce (10 pieces), $14.80

The steamed Pork Belly Buns were soft and slightly chewy with a tasty sauce, however, the pork was quite dry so I didn’t really like this dish.

???????????????????????????????

Pork Belly Buns, $6.00 (2 pieces)

The pan fried pork dumplings were great as they were so golden and delicious on the bottom, perfect with the vinegar and soy sauce.

???????????????????????????????

Here’s a photo of the bottom of the dumplings:

IMG_6434

Pan Fried Pork Dumplings (8 pieces), $9.90

After we had enjoyed the Dim Sim, we moved on to the Braised Tofu and Mushroom in Sweet Soy Sauce.

While I am definitely not a mushroom person and couldn’t handle more than a bite of these slimy looking things, I did enjoy the tofu, the glossy sauce and the braised greens.

Great for the vegetarians!

???????????????????????????????

Braised Tofu and Mushroom in Sweet Soy Sauce, $16.80

Next were the Stir Fried Claims with XO Sauce. The claims were well cooked, the sauce was sweet and a little spicy and the shallots were crunchy and added some freshness and colour.

Wicko also enjoyed his first clam, noting that he had caught one once on a fishing trip by accident.  Nice.

IMG_6438

Stir Fried Clam, $15.80

The Steamed Fish with Seaweed was soft and flaky, falling apart easily when prodded with our chopsticks. I’m not 100% sure exactly what the sauce was or how much it cost though as I couldn’t find it on the menu.

IMG_6439

My favourite dish, possibly of all time, had to be the Salt and Pepper Soft Shell Crab.  This dish was a winner all round and we enjoyed the super crunchy fried crab, the spicy chili and the well seasoned batter.  The presentation was also nice with some bright colours to lift the look of the dish.

IMG_6442

Salt and Pepper Soft Shell Crab, $29.80

Next we had the King Prawn in Ginger and Shallots with Vermicelli.  There were plenty of prawns in this dish, even if they were a little overdone and hard to peel (HOW do you peel prawns with chopsticks and a soup spoon!?).

The ginger and shallot sauce was tasty but I wasn’t a fan of all the noodles at the bottom, a little too much vermicelli for me!

IMG_6445

We then had the Salt and Pepper Deep Fried School of Prawns, which were the same as the soft shell crab, except crunchier.

IMG_6447

The Sizzling Seafood Hot Pot was next.  A pot full of seafood broth, steaming vegetables, tofu, fish, prawns and squid, this dish was something light that you could enjoy with fried rice of noodles, without feeling super guilty that you just ate all dat fried crab.

???????????????????????????????The Rainbow Beef was next.  The beef was cut super thin, battered and then fried and coated in a red sweet and sour sauce, leaving it crunchy and sweet.

???????????????????????????????

Rainbow Beef, $17.80

It was served with some steamed plain bread that you were meant to place the beef in, although I only ended up trying a piece of the bread and a couple of pieces of the beef.

The bread was light and pillowy and very cutely shaped so that they looked like little clouds!

IMG_6452

Finally, the last dish was the Fried Rice with XO Sauce.  The rice was so flavoursome and colourful and I loved the prawns and egg in there.

A great dish to complement any of the other mains, especially the steamed vegetable and seafood dishes.

IMG_6453

Fried Rice in XO Sauce, $11.90

For dessert, we shared HUGE bowls of shaved ice, ice cream, fresh mango and strawberry (yes, fresh!), and some condensed milk.

Despite half the dish being ice, once the ice cream and ice started melting the combination of fruity flavours mixing in with the ice made for a cold and satisfying dessert.

We were surprised to find that all this was only $10.80, however, you are only able to choose either mango or strawberry when you order this at the restaurant.

???????????????????????????????

Fresh Mango or Strawberry Shaved Ice, $10.80

Summary

The food was very tasty and there was so much variety, flavour and technique used in making these dishes.  Great value as well and large serving sizes.

The decor is traditional meets modern, and I loved the glass area where the dumplings and buns were made and the beautiful red and black antique looking features.

Rating

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service-  8
  • Food-  8
  • Atmosphere- 7.75
  • Value – 8

TCFB and Wicko dined complimentarily as guests of Wasamedia and New Shanghai. 

New Shanghai Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Criniti’s Darling Harbour, ($$)

Criniti’s, Darling Harbour

Address: Shop 461, 2-10 Darling Drive, Harbourside Shopping Centre,  Darling Harbour NSW 2000

Phone: 1300274 648

Website: http://www.crinitis.com.au/

* * *

A half day at work meant the colleagues and I headed over to Darling Harbour (via monorail) for a day of food, drinks and bonding!

The monorail ride over was something different and as I hadn’t been on a monorail in a while. I thought that it was a great way to get another view of Sydney and although windows and building facades blocked the view some of the way, there was a fantastic view of QVB and Darling Harbour from the monorail.

If only the windows were cleaner and didn’t have pictures on them, we could actually see out of them better to take photos!

I can see why they are planning to take the monorail down this year- there weren’t many people on, the tickets are a little pricey considering you could walk the distance in the same time (it is quite slow), and it is hard to take photos out the window when there are stickers and pictures on them blocking the view.

That said, I wish they would have added it on to a hop on hop off bus price and use it as a bigger tourist attraction as it is definitely a unique part of Sydney.

Atmosphere

After our monorail trip, we walked over the Pyrmont Bridge to Harbourside shopping Centre.

As always, Criniti’s restaurants are very well presented. The decor is fabulous, taking you to Italy with the large woodfired pizza ovens, exposed brickwork and football jerseys.

1

The gorgeous view of Darling Harbour

On this occasion we visited during the day and sat outside. I had only ever been to Criniti’s at night so it was interesting to see what the place looked like by day.

There was plenty of bright light coming in from the balcony and while the restaurant wasn’t anywhere near as busy as it is at night, there were still quite a few tables of people around us.

Service

Service wasn’t as good as during the night. We had 2 waiters look after our table during our meal and, as we all ordered drinks and food at different times, some taking longer to peruse the menu than others (guilty!), there was some confusion over who had ordered and who had not.

Overall however, they were pleasant and professional.

Food

We all ordered a variety of things.

I went for the Chicken Skewers with Lemon & Herb seasoning. They were served with three delicious sauces which tasted like aioli, chilli and prego. They also came with a fresh half a lemon (I love lemon and the fact that they weren’t stingy with it!), and a large basket of chips which was more than enough for me.

The chicken was juicy and well-seasoned; the meat had really absorbed all the flavour of the marinade. The charred capsicum and onions added some smokiness and the crispy chips definitely hit the spot!

Despite the fact that this dish cost $36.90, which is a fair bit for a casual lunch, there was plenty of chicken in the dish, it was well-cooked, the chips were perfectly crunchy and well salted, and the sauces and dish were presented nicely on the plate. Definitely work the money!

7

8

Others in the group ordered a variety of things including:

Beetroot, pumpkin, goats cheese and walnut salad with grilled chicken $19.90 + $9.90 for the chicken

6

Pizzas from $26.50

5

The Prego Burger, $21.90

4

Chicken Schnitzel with chips and salad $33.90

3

Grilled chicken with side salad, $29.90

2

The consensus was that Criniti’s had fantastic portions, delicious food, and great presentation. Everyone enjoyed their meals and we left there very full!

Cost

All of our meals + soft drinks came to about $310.

Rating

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

  • Service- 6.5
  • Food- 8.5
  • Ambience- 6
  • Value – 7.5

Criniti’s Darling Harbour on Urbanspoon

Gama BBQ, Turramurra ($$)

Address: 1/1380 Pacific Highway Turramurra NSW

Tel: (02) 9988 4939

Website: http://gamabbq.com.au/

* * *

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.

1

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.

2

3

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.

5

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).

10

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!
8

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.

4

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

7

Cooking the meat

6

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

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.

20130926_191701

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.

20130926_192642

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.

20130926_192640

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.

20130926_192538

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.

20130926_192541

20130926_192653

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

20130926_194029

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).

20130926_194035

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!

20130926_192659

20130926_192656

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

The Cook’s Garden, Turramurra ($)

Address: 272 Bobbin Head Rd  North Turramurra NSW

Tel: (02) 9144 5086

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

* * *

I had heard good things about this place and had been wanting to visit for some time.

Prowsey and I finally got the chance one Saturday afternoon as we headed up to North Turramurra to check it out.

Atmosphere

As it was the afternoon the atmosphere was pretty quiet and calm, really serene.

The interior is decorated with lots of wood panelling and neutral colours like whites and greens and you can see the little garden at the back which is a nice touch, but the front view of the street is quite boring.

The tables were nicely set up and as we were dining the waitress was preparing them up for dinner service.

3

The Cook’s Garden proved to be a good spot to have a chat as apart from Prowsey and I, there were only two other ladies at the restaurant.

Service

We stepped into the little chocolate and cake shop at the front of the restaurant and waited about 5 minutes before someone came to the front of the shop to greet us.

We decided to have a tea and cake each and ordered and paid at the front counter before taking our own seats by the window.

There really wasn’t much to the service. We didn’t have any amazing waiters or friendly smiles. We just ordered, our tea and cakes were brought out and that’s it.  As we were leaving however, a friendly gentleman at the front of the shop did thank us for coming and was quite nice but other than that it was a really average experience.

Food

Prowsey and I both ordered English Breakfast teas and Persian Polenta cakes.

The Persian Polenta cakes were delicious. They were moist and very orangey, had a lovely mini-sized presentation and were slightly sticky. Delicious.

2

Persian Orange Polenta Cake

While the tea was also tasty and quite nice, the cups they were served in were a little stained and chipped. Not very good presentation for a place which supposedly has a couple of Good Food Chef Hats!

1

English Breakfast Tea

Cost

The tea cost $4.00.

There are a variety of cakes available at the front of the restaurant.

Rating

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 5.5
  • Food-  7
  • Ambience- 6.5

The Cook's Garden on Urbanspoon

Top Speed Thai, Willoughby ($$)

Address: 331 Penshurst St, North Willoughby NSW

Tel: (02) 9417 7500

Website: 

* * *

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.

20130421_174502

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!

20130421_180816

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.

20130421_180625

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.

20130421_181726

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!

20130421_181530

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.

20130421_182022

20130421_182505

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!

20130421_181906

Lamb Massaman Cutlets, $20.90

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

20130421_181535

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

Fratelli Fresh, Bridge Street Sydney ($$)

Address: 11 Bridge Street, Sydney NSW

Tel: (02) 8298 2700

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

Opening Hours:

Mon-Fri 10.00 am -7.00 pm

* * *

A reunion with some of my friends from law school brought me to FINALLY try Fratelli Fresh in Sydney’s CBD.  I’d heard a lot about this place and was keen to see what it was all about.

Atmosphere

Fratelli is located just off Bridge Street and you need to walk down a small, dark set of stairs to get to the actual restaurant. As it is underground, it has a sort of “cellar-ish” vibe to it with mood lighting, lots of wood and some interesting chalk board menus placed around the restaurant.

The space also serves as a providore which sells some of Fratelli’s sauces, fresh fruit and vegetables and pasta, among other things.

At the front of the restaurant is the kitchen with a wood-fire oven, where the pizza is made. The front seating area has some tables and chairs,while the back bar area has some (very uncomfortable  high tables and chairs which I found difficult to sit on. Bar stools and bench tops line the kitchen and bar areas all around the restaurant. 

Overall the space is quite nice, with a warm and inviting feel to it. The space is large and the cellar atmosphere makes it a cosy space in which you can enjoy some after work drinks and home-style food.

Service

I arrived at the restaurant at 5.40pm, 20 minutes before the scheduled meeting time with my friends. I was hoping to find a little corner to sit in and read my book (Anna Karenina btw) while I waited.

I stood in line beside the “Please Wait to Be Seated” sign and despite there being two wait staff members chatting nearby, I did not receive any attention. I waited there for about 2-3 minutes (seemed like 5-10) while the waiters walked around organising themselves. Eventually one girl came over to me and said she would get the manager. I would have been happy with a “Good evening, we’re a little busy setting up but someone will be with you shortly.” But no. Eventually the manager came over, wrote my name down on her list and a waitress led me to a table.

Despite the shaky start, our waitress during dinner was lovely. She was friendly and helpful and despite the fact that we weren’t always able to get her attention when we wanted it (I’ll excuse that as the restaurant was very busy), she accommodated any requests we made.

12

3

Food

Food was rustic and home-style. The menu was a bit tricky to read for non-Italian speakers but would be alright for those who, like me, know some food-related Italian words (such as formaggi!).

We ordered two sides to share between us: the Chips and the Raddichio with dressing. The chips were delicious thick-cut chips which were golden, piping hot and perfectly salted-delicious. The radicchio was beautiful and colourful, with fresh and crunchy leaves. The bitterness of the leaves was great against the tangy dressing. My only complaint would be that the leaves were so large which made it difficult to eat, but this is a minor complaint.

8

9

I ordered the Lamb Ragu with Rigatoni. This dish came under the “Primi” options (first course/entree) on the menu so it was a smallish serving. Plenty for me but not enough for a big eater such as my brother. The lamb was soft and tender, the pasta al dente and the sauce tomato-ey. The dish was well presented and topped with parmesan cheese. Not an amazing dish but quite satisfying.

4

My friend SB ordered from the main menu, chicken schnitzel with coleslaw. It was quite a small serving and the chicken was quite dry as it was very thin. The coleslaw had beautiful colours and was well presented and tasty.

6

heetz ordered the Orecchiette with mushrooms, smashed peas and mint. Orecchiette is a sort of thumb print shaped pasta which means “little ears”. While the subtle mint flavour and creamy peas made for an interesting dish, Sheetz unfortunately received shell pasta and linguine instead of orecchiette, which was disappointing. We weren’t told that there was no orecchiette and that she would get a different pasta, we were just served a different kind with no apologies. Even more disappointing, there were only about two mushrooms in the dish!

7

Vegetarian PS ordered the risotto with mushrooms, taleggio and marsala. I tried a little and was delighted with the dish. It was well -cooked, creamy, and the most flavoursome dish of them all. A very good option for vegetarians who like Italian food.

10

For dessert we ordered two dishes to share between us.

The first was the Torta Banoffee- banoffee pie. If you don’t know what a Banoffee Pie is check out this link (you can thank me later). I expected an individual sized tart piled high with banana and oozing caramel. What we got was quite different. We received a slice of the tart instead of an individual sized serving which, I think, doesn’t look that great on the plate. The biscuit base was quite hard to cut through and there was only one thin layer of banana. While the caramel tasted nice, it wasn’t gooey and oozing out as I had hoped. The cream tasted a bit like banana however, which added to the flavour of the dish overall.

11

Our second dessert option was the Mango and white chocolate semifreddo with fresh mango and meringue. This dish was quite nicely presented with cute mini meringue buttons on top and a gorgeous glossy sauce on the plate. The semifreddo had a creamy mango flavour and there were generous serves of fresh mango on top of it which livened up the dish a lot. The sauce was sweet and tangy and the meringues added some texture and bite. A delicious dessert which I really enjoyed.

12

Summary

Overall, not a bad restaurant. Service at the door could be improved a little by friendlier staff and more attention to customers. There is a lot of variety in the dining options and the food is cooked well and presented nicely. Great dessert menu and cool interior. Would definitely recommend this place!

Cost

The bill came to $140.00 – $35.00 pp (excluding drinks).

Rating:

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

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

Café Sopra at Fratelli Fresh on Urbanspoon