Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Matcha parfait @ Chanoma Cafe Sydney

I'd seen photos of a matcha parfait on reviews about Chanoma Cafe in Sydney and put this on my list of places to try on my next visit to Sydney. Located at Regents Place on George Street, there are quite a few other restaurants and cafes in the complex.
I had a look at the menu outside to decide which parfait I wanted. There are several matcha options to choose from with hot and cold drinks, and soft serve ice cream being a popular choice.
Surprisingly, they also sell hot dogs. It was 3pm and I wasn't hungry enough to have a hot dog, so I'll have to try them out another time.
The cafe itself is quite small with limited seating available. Some 'greenery' has been brought inside with glass decals of foliage hanging down from the ceiling.
The kitchen is tiny and narrow too. I ordered the chocolate matcha parfait ($9.50) and got a seat outside.
Diners can peek into the window and watch everything being made.
It took less than 5 minutes for my parfait to come out. It was piled high with various items - matcha ice cream, sweet red bean paste, chopped up fruit, rice cakes, pocky, cornflakes (yep cornflakes), whipped cream, chocolate sauce and topped with a waffle cone as decoration.
It looked pretty impressive! I didn't think I'd finish it all but I did :) The matcha ice cream is beautiful and I found it easy to just keep digging in and eating all the different elements.
At first I thought the cornflakes would be a little strange in the parfait, but I loved the crunchy texture it gave to the parfait. A brilliant idea.
The parfait used really simple ingredients, hence it was made so quickly, looked great and tasted good too. Worth a try especially if you love green tea and green tea ice cream.

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Foodgasm 7.5/10
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Sunday, 17 August 2014

BrodDogs by Brodburger

A few weeks ago, Canberra burger institution Brodburger opened up its second venture, BrodDogs, in its distinctive red van in Belconnen. Selling gourmet hotdogs, BrodDogs made an appearance back in February at the Canberra National Multicultural Festival and it must've taken off from there!

BrodDogs is located on the top floor carpark of Westfield Belconnen towards the entrance (near Fernwood).
There are 8 broddogs to choose from and the majority give you a choice of dog - vienna frankfurt, spicy kransky or pork free dogs. You could have all sorts of combinations with a variety of extras such as chilli beef, pork belly, seasoned popcorn cauliflower and coleslaw. You can even make it a double dog for an extra $3.50. It's great to see that all dogs are gluten-free and there are gluten-free buns for $1.50. The Veggie dog is the only choice for vegetarians and this can also be made vegan.
The Veggie dog ($8.50) consisted of seasoned fried popcorn cauliflower and eggplant, fondue cheese sauce, topped with sweet potato ribbons and shaved gruyere cheese. The cauliflower is covered in some brown sauce which I can't ascertain as it's not overly powerful or salty. I love the crispy sweet potato ribbons on top. It really is drowned in fondue cheesy sauce. Yum!
The white hotdog bun was so soft and fresh.
The New Yorker ($9) consists of your choice of dog (I chose the spicy kransky) with sauerkraut, triple smoked pork belly, corn relish and American mustard.
There was a mild amount of spiciness from the kransky which had bits of chilli in it. The corn relish  is drizzled on as the first layer at the bottom of the bun. This sweet relish is a good accompaniment to balance out the vinegary sauerkraut and salty dog. I couldn't tell whether the pork belly was smoked let alone triple smoked so that didn't add much value for me.
The BrodDog ($10.50) comes with your choice of dog (in this case the Vienna frankfurt), bacon, coleslaw, pickles, ketchup, corn relish, topped with sweet potato ribbons with shaved gruyere cheese. Packed with so many toppings, this is definitely a winner. I loved the crunchy coleslaw, the zing from the pickles (and I don't usually like pickles) and the yummy frankfurt. The generous serving of shaved gruyere looks so soft and delicate, and tastes delicious.
Lots of mayonnaise and tomato sauce on this dog.
With 5 versions of chips available, I chose the cheesy chips ($6.50) smothered in fondue cheese and grated gruyere cheese. I'd closed the bag this comes in as I was taking this home with me so the chips got a little soggy because of that. Definitely an indulgence, these chips were great. Chips and two types of cheese? You can't go wrong.
There are no tables or chairs, but most people prop their food on the ledge (with not the best view) looking over some cars and bins below or take it back into the plaza food court. Both times I went between 12-1 and only waited 10-15 minutes before my number was called out. One broddog is enough to nicely fill you. Similarly to Brodburger, I think BrodDogs will gain a loyal following. I wonder if they'll bring BrodDogs to Kingston?

Worth checking out. BrodDogs is open Tuesday to Sunday. There's no dedicated website at this stage but the Brodburger Facebook page has some updates.

Foodgasm 7.5/10

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Thursday, 14 August 2014

Checking out new Braddon bar @ Hopscotch

The newest drinking spot to open in Canberra is Hopscotch located at 5 Lonsdale Street in Braddon. I could see the neon arrow pointing to the bar from Cooyong Street. Hopscotch's name comes from the bar selling both hops (beer) and scotch (whiskey). And there is a lot of scotch whiskey in the drinks menu - Canadian whiskey, Irish whiskey, French whiskey, so much whiskey! There are also wines, beers, ciders and a short cocktail list.

The first thing you see is the large outdoor beer garden with wooden picnic style tables and sun umbrellas. Hopscotch will be hosting Sunday sessions with a whole pig/s roasting outdoors. Ahh this is going to be great in summer!
I like the large mural outside above the BBQ pit where I'm assuming the whole pig on a spit will be roasted. The Canberra Times reports the mural was created by a 16 year old street artist.
Green foliage peeks through above the bi-fold windows providing a glimpse of nature before opening up onto the beer garden in the warmer months.
The long bar to the side displays a glorious array of whiskey and spirits.
Art work is dotted around the bar. I like this one of a firefighter near the entrance.
There's a slight warehouse feel with a mix of exposed piping and brickwork, aluminium sheeting, large downlights and the colour scheme used. But it still remains cosy and hip.
The black back wall shows off the Hopscotch sign.
The menu (available on the Hopscotch website) is inspired by everything BBQ with an Argentine wood-fired grill imported from the US. The menu states a mixture of iron bark and red gum is used to impart a light smoke flavour to meals. There are bar snacks available if you just want something small or a whole list of mains, sides and desserts. There's no indication of gluten-free options so better check with the staff.
Orders are taken at the bar. When I asked whether mocktails could be made, it was a general 'no it's not on the menu' which was disappointing. It's not that hard to mix soda and juice - oh well. There are cups and jugs of water at one end of the bar which you can help yourself to. After placing our food order, it only took about 15 minutes for our entree to arrive. A friend and I shared the Tajin spiced calamari ($15) with kimchi slaw and fried onions. These are large cuts of delicious, soft and fresh calamari, not your usual small rings. I loved the light coating of spices which didn't over power the calamari and allowed the natural calamari goodness to shine through. I enjoyed the crunchy kimchi slaw that has a real kick to it.
I ordered the Jamaican jerk chicken with jalapeno corn bread, pineapple salsa and avocado ($27) for my main. This huge chunk of chicken was succulent and slightly charred on the outside. The corn bread had sliced jalapenos and cheese melted on top - spicy but I liked it. The pineapple salsa was divine providing a hit of fresh sweetness to the dish. Yum!
My friend was happy with her Argentine slow cooked brisket with red chimmi churri, soft maize and smoked eshallots. A large slab of meat that she didn't end up finishing.
Overall, I enjoyed my experience at Hopscotch. The vibe is lively with people enjoying an after work drink and there's enough space to sit comfortably. It is a gastropub so expect it to be a little noisy inside, particularly with live music playing every weekend. All tables were taken by around 7pm so it's certainly popular already! The menu looks good and I'm keen to go back for a Sunday session and to try out more dishes from the menu. 

*Edit - 14 August 2014 - So I went back for more food! This time I decided on two bar snacks for dinner rather than a whole main. I chose the honey mustard glazed pork with fennel scratchings and a side of ranch dressing ($15). Large chunks of mouth watering succulent pork - wow! It's coated in its own fatty oil (you'll notice a bit of oil soaking up the paper at the bottom of the basket) but it's so tasty you won't care. The scratchings are crunchy and perfect. Delish.
The wood-fired crab and corn quesadilla with avocado, sour cream and salsa ($16) comes in a serve of two. The quesadilla is served warm and filled with what seems like creamed corn with a hint of crab. I layered on the avocado, sour cream and salsa as it just didn't have enough flavour for my liking.
My friend who would like to be referred to as Mr STTA ordered the gluten-free version of the warm lamb salad consisting of pulled lamb, BBQ vegetables, fetta, roquette and gremolata vinegar ($18). He really loved this and mentioned it was something simple made extremely well. Staff are still learning the ropes so it took a few minutes for them to figure out if it could be made gluten-free or not but they're very friendly and happy to check.
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Foodgasm 7.5/10
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Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Lunch @ Pheast Manuka

Pheast recently opened in Manuka replacing what was Charlie Blacks. There are specials written up outside on the bi-fold glass doors - 2 for 1 dinners on Mondays and Tuesdays as well as $10 lunch specials look like good bargains.
Located on the corner of Furneaux and Franklin Street, the fit out is pretty much identical to Charlie Blacks minus the piano. A mix of wooden high tables and stools in front of the bar with tv screens for sports-loving diners, casual tables on an elevated platform to the side, lounge style seating on the other side (a good spot for evening drinks) and outdoor seating in the front courtyard.
The menu looks like your typical pub style fare with steaks, fish and chips, chicken parma and schnitty, burgers, chips, pizza and pasta. The full sized Texas pork ribs for $42 would be good to try but I'd have to share this with someone as there is no half size option.
I started off with a soy mocha ($4) but was really disappointed with it. Weak coffee and overly milky. My friend's flat white was similar - not enough coffee and too much milk.
We shared the hand cut chips with gravy ($9) which came on a massive plate. This was a larger portion than expected for an entree. The chips tasted superb - nicely seasoned, really crunchy on the outside with fluffiness on the inside. I didn't think there was enough gravy in the small bowl but we didn't end up finishing the chips anyway.
For my main, I decided on the single slow braised lamb shank with rosemary, garlic and Mediterranean vegetables ($24). All mains come with sauce (mainly for steaks) with a side of creamy mash, chips, seasonal vegetables or salad. I chose the creamy mash with my lamb shank. The large single shank was enough for me though there was quite a bit of fat to cut around. The jus was fantastic - slightly sweet with yummy caramelised onions that went perfectly with the shank. What was lacking were the Mediterranean vegetables stated in the menu. I couldn't see any vegetables except onion and spring onion. The creamy mash came out a little cold with no seasoning so I added some salt and pepper to it.
My friend originally ordered the prawn and chorizo linguini but was provided the linguini matriciana instead. The waitress apologised for the mix up but didn't offer to take the dish back for the correct dish. My friend didn't want to make a fuss and just ate the linguini matriciana consisting of pepperoni, capsicum, tomato and chilli, and asked for some prawns to go with it. The dish wasn't spectacular and only half was eaten.
I'm 50/50 on this one. Substandard coffee and pasta, a wrong order, a decent lamb shank but with vegetables missing, and yummy chips. The chips were the dish of the day as there was nothing wrong or missing! Pheast has only been open about a week and a half so there could still be teething issues. We went to pay for the bill at the bar and waited at least 15 minutes as other people were buying beers and the efpos machine took a while to work. At least we were allowed split billing.

I'm curious to see how Pheast cooks its steaks and ribs but I'd take advantage of the 2 for 1 dinners on Monday and Tuesday nights for a cheaper meal. It may be worthwhile checking out the $10 lunch specials too.

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Foodgasm 5/10
Pheast on Urbanspoon


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Sunday, 10 August 2014

Brunch @ Stand By Me

A friend and I headed to newly opened cafe, Stand By Me, at the Lyons shops for brunch last weekend. There are only a handful of tables inside and a back area with outdoor heaters to keep you warm. Arriving at around 10am, there were only a few stools left at the the small bar by the front windows. I was greeted warmly and with a big smile by one of the waiters who kindly showed me the back courtyard but I preferred to sit inside. The fit out is bright and urban with exposed brickwork and lots of bright popping colours dotted through out the cafe - like the brightly coloured mural on the back wall, coloured cushions and comfy bright orange stools.
The yellow daisies on each table also helps to brighten up the cafe.
There are books on the back shelves if you want something to read. There's also an old school vinyl player and records but I'm not sure if it was working. We noticed some opera music playing at one stage. I thought the water tap installed into the shelf was a good idea to quickly fill up water jugs.
I ordered a soy mocha ($4.50) to start with before perusing the menu. Very creamy and not as chocolatey as I like, but still good to drink.
The one page breakfast menu lacks a form of a 'Big Breakfast' but bacon and other sides can be added to any dish (no sausages though). There were two breakfast specials that morning - a meatball sandwich and an omelette. The menu states that most dishes can be made gluten free as well.
I ordered the ricotta hot cakes ($13.50) with blueberry compote and maple and mint yoghurt. The hotcakes were light and sugary. Not as fluffy as I'd like but they still tasted great with the compote. A decent serving too so I wasn't too stuffed afterwards.
My friend had the slow roasted tomatoes with home made pesto, poached eggs on toast ($13).
I'm really liking the small cafes found at most suburban shopping areas.
Stand By Me is open Monday to Friday for breakfast and lunch, and both Saturday and Sunday from 8-2 for all day breakfast.

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Foodgasm 7/10
Stand By Me on Urbanspoon
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