Sunday, July 25, 2010

Coffee Garam

Hello everyone! Still remember me? The blogger that doesn't update her blog that much?? I know I know.. haven't been writing for a while. Was just so tired all the time in the last couple weeks. Started a new role at work, but still can't get rid of the old role, so pretty much doing 2 jobs now. Then there was the day when I had to wake up at 3:45am to get to the warehouse at 5am. Or the few days when I had to wake up at 5am to get to city at 7am. Not very fun :p Anyway, enough of me whinging about work. I'm sure everyone got their 'work stories' to tell. Plus it's weekend, I really should post something up before I lose all my readers. 
The other day I had to go to dentist for my stage 1 surgery for a tooth implant (*sigh* another long story about that but I should refrain from whinging too much here). So I thought I probably wouldn't be able to eat much after the surgery, so better to have a nice big breakfast before I went to see my dentist. So we went to this new cafe at Surry Hills - Coffee Garam (in Indian it means hot coffee). It has only been opened for about 1.5 months. 
Robin's flat white. No, it wasn't the waitress fault that the coffee spilt. I did that :p I was turning the coffee to take a photo and I turned it too quick. 
This was my mocha. It was very creamy. I like ordering mocha because I like eating the froth with the chocolate powder :) 
Robin's English Breakfast - $8.99 with free coffee. There was fried egg, bacon, mushroom, baked beans, roasted tomato and one slice of toast. Serving was very generous. While the mushrooms smelt nice and garlicky, but they tasted a bit sour. Still, for just $9, I don't think there are many places that can beat that. 

This was my Turkish Delight $9.99 - toasted white bread with mayo, turkey breast, lettuce, red onions, cheese and plenty of seeded mustard. There's 1 thing that I didn't notice till I looked at the photo of the menu just then. It says "All sandwiches $7.50 with a can of drink!". So sandwich alone is $9.99, but with a can of drink it's $7.50 ? I think $7.50 with drinks has to be the price for takeaway. 

We had a bit of chat with the owner Harvey in between waves of customers that came in for their coffee in the morning. His idea was to create a new breed of cafe - fusion of Australian and Indian. While there were the familiar sandwiches and fried eggs, there were also some Indian snacks that Harvey had added to the menu. 
He got us to try the specialty of his cafe - Masala Chai. Apparently the masala that Harvey used at his shop was home made! It was basically tea with some spices like cinnamon/ ginger. Surprisingly good! I wasn't so sure about it before my first sip, but it turned out to be something very refreshing. 

We also tried an Indian snacks - Dabeli $3. We were quite full before we ordered the extra snack, then I thought $3, it should be something small like a curry puff that I could share half with Robin. So I ordered it. Turned out, it was like a burger!!! It was basically a burger bun with filling that was made with sweet potato mix, pomegranate, onions, green chutney and tamarind chutney topped with roasted peanuts and coriander. Robin couldn't really eat it because it was too spicy for him. I didn't mind the spiciness though. It was a bit of savoury, a bit of sweet, and the roasted peanuts added crunchiness to the otherwise mushy mix. Very interesting snack. The only problem I had was that the filling kept on falling off. 
Overall it was quite a nice cafe. New, modern, good place to just sit, relax and have some light meals. Staff was very friendly too. 1 thing that we thought could be improved was how quickly the drinks/food got served. We had to wait quite a while for our coffee and food to arrive. Then we had to wait quite a bit again for the our second round of order with the masala chai. Some people came in to order a cup of coffee for takeaway and they had to wait too. Not a big issue for us since we were just killing time before going to dentist, but I think for people that came in for coffee on the way to work, they probably might like their coffee served quicker. 

Coffee Garam
29-37 Bellevue Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010
Tel: (02) 8065 1941

We went there in the morning, so no problem at all with lighting. It had big panels of glass across the front of the shop to let plenty of light in. The cafe was very spacious too. 

*Robin and YW dined as guests of Coffee Garam

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bilson's Restaurant

One day, Robin said to me, "Book this day out, we're going out for dinner" and wouldn't tell me where we were going. He dropped a hint and said "Surry Hills". On the actual day, when we were driving past Surry Hills, he didn't stop. So I asked "didn't you say we're going to Surry Hills?" he answered "I didn't say we're GOING TO Surry Hills, I said Surry Hills and we did PASS BY Surry Hills". I gave him a very dirty look because I had been flipping through the Entertainment book and checking out all the Surry Hills restaurant all week. Anyway, I knew it's going to be somewhere really nice because he specifically told me to wear nice, no t-shirt and jeans. Then, we arrived at the Radisson Plaza Hotel and saw the Bilson's sign. Straight away there's this silly grin on my face that probably didn't go away until we left :) It's a 3 hatted restaurant!! A really nice surprise dinner indeed! After we sat down, he told me that he already decided what we were going to have and ordered the Fine Bouche - 10 course degustation. So I didn't really get to 'analyse' the menu before it was taken away by the waiter. Not long after that some bread and butter were served, followed by our amuse bouche. 
Veal sweetbread with parsley with mango chutney. This was my first time having sweetbread (the first time I heard of sweetbread was actually not long ago on Masterchef). This definitely made a very good first impression of sweetbread for me.
Freshwater Crayfish and Lobster Bavaroise, Green Pea a la Françaisé - From front to back of the photo, it's lobster bavaroise, prawn with jelly consommé, tart with peas and the streak of peas purée at the side. The lobster bavaroise is very rich, like a pate but softer and creamier, simply awesome! Here's the same dish again from the other end.
Tartar of Black Angus and Cuttlefish, Ink Mayonnaise and Mustard Ice Cream. For some reason I actually quite like mustard. English mustard, dijonaise mustard, even McD mustard sauce (my favourite sauce to go with the chips). I love ice-cream too!! So imagine mustard ice-cream :D It's 1 of those things that when heard, it's like "that's so weird!!" but once ate, it's "how come nobody thought about this earlier?!?"
Roasted Scallops, Petit Salé of Puy Lentils and Foie Gras Vinaigrette. As expected scallop was perfect. Sweet, fresh, nicely done. However, to me that's not the most impressive part of the dish. It was the bacon!! The bacon was like paper thin, it was so so so so so crispy!! 

Hiramasa Kingfish with Braised Octopus, Cauliflower and Black Olives. Fish fillet with crispy skin! :) There was also a small piece of roasted cuttlefish at the side. Reminds me of those roasted cuttlefish snacks that I used to eat so much in Malaysia. 
Roasted Partridge with Beetroot Braised Red Cabbage, Glazed Carrots and Rocket Pistou. O.k. I have a confession to make. I made the deadliest food blogger mistake. *YW takes a deep breath* I forgot to take photo before I took my first bite. There you go! I said it! Don't hit me!! That's why I had to crop the photo like this, so that it doesn't show the 'disturbed' gravy on the plate and the other half eaten piece of meat :p 
Angus Beef Tenderloin ‘Façon Niçoise’ that is beef tenderloin with spanish onion purée and potato. Look how pink that beef was! This is how exactly how a steak should be done! 
Palate cleanser time! Basil ice cream with carrot n cardamom. Another funny flavour ice-cream heehe..:) However, different from the mustard ice-cream which was a bit 'heavier' to go with the beef, this was very light and refreshing with the taste of the fresh herb. 

Dessert time! Ta-da!! On the menu, it's caled Eve’s Platter. Lucky for the 'note' application on iphone that Robin had installed and pushing the limit of my short term memory trying to remember every word the waiter said, this is what I managed to jot down. From right to left, apple tart, apple parfait, ice cream with apple pieces, poached baby apple with balsemic reduction and ginger bread with mascarpone. Everything on this plate is miniscule and so cute!! Both Robin and I agreed that the best part was the apple parfait (second from right in the pic that looked like an apple with a black stem). It was like a apple flavoured ice ball with some sort of custard inside. 
Eve's platter was a light dessert. This Autour Du Chocolat on the other hand was the rich and heavy 1!  Again, couldn't tell much from the menu, so had to rely on my goldfish memory to quickly write down everything after the waiter explained the dish. Clockwise from the top, chocolate parfait, chocolate ice cream with chocolate crumbs, white chocolate ice-cream with chocolate brittle, dark chocolate cube with gold leaves. The dark chocolate cube was interesting. It was like a wobbly jelly, but very bitter (in the good dark chocolate way). Not something anyone should put the whole thing in the mouth even though it was just a little piece. 
Petits Fours - rose meringue, pistachio cake with strawberry. I preferred the rose merigue over the pistachio cake. I thought the strawberry that's wedged inside the cake was a bit sour. 

Overall, it was an AWESOME dinner!! The food was very impressive. 1 thing that maybe still have room for improvement was the staff. Not that they did anything bad, it's just some of them still felt a bit inexperience with handling the cutlery. Also, there was 1 waiter that gave the impression that he was impatient when he was explaining the dishes to us. Either he's rushing to somewhere else, or he just memorised the descriptions and tried to say it all out in 1 breath. There was 1 thing that I was very happy about though was that they were 'bloggers friendly'. The floor manager actually asked if I was a blogger and we exchanged business cards :)

Bilson's Restaurant
27 O'Connell St
Sydney NSW 2000
Tel: (02) 8214 0496 

It was a little dark, but not a big problem, just need higher ISO. 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Ice Cube

It was the day when we went Imax to watch Avatar. Thinking we should go early to get ticket and then start queuing up for good seats, so we decided to have dinner nearby. What could be nearer than Ice Cube which was just downstairs? Plus we got to use our Entertainment Book too :)
Started with our entree - Seared scallops, on spiced avocado and gazpacho dressing - $21. Fresh and plump scallops, nicely caramelised on the outside, rested on top of spiced avocado 'stubs'. We didn't really like the whole dressing and avocado combination though. Didn't feel like they suited the scallops. 
Second entree - Seasonal sashimi plate - $19.50. Since they had a sushi/sashimi bar in the restaurant, so we thought we would try the sashimi. Not too bad, thick slices of fresh salmon and kingfish. Nothing too impressive though.  
After our rather "o.k but not great" entress, we didn't really have high expectation of the mains. To our surprise, the mains were actually very good!! Robin's main - Whole Fish of the day - Oven baked Snapper - $34. Fish was nicely done with crunchy skin but meat still moist. Very fresh too! Robin happily polished the whole plate clean. 

Thinking I should have something different from what I normally would order, I went for the Rock fish casserole - black tiger prawns, scallops, bugs, reef fish, squid & mussels delicately poached in a citrus infused crayfish broth served with a crusty garlic baquette & saffron rouille - $38.50. This was so good!! The broth was so full of seafood goodness. It was really sweet from all the fresh seafood. It was surprisingly filling too!! 

Didn't really have any room for dessert, plus didn't really have time too because by the time we wait for dessert and finish eating, we would've been late for movie. When we paid the bill, we were asked to give some feedback, in return, we would receive a $40 voucher for next meal. We said we definitely would go back again once we get the voucher since we enjoyed the mains very much. We did get the voucher after a few days, but the voucher is now expired :( (ops.. I guess that sort of shows how far behind I am with my posts. The voucher given for another visit was expired even before I got to write about first visit :p ) Anyway, conclusion was the mains were way better than entrees. Not that they were bad, just wasn't as impressive. Wouldn't mind going back again if my voucher hasn't expired :p 

Ice cube
Ground Floor, The Imax Theatre Complex
31 Wheat Road
Darling Harbour, Sydney NSW 2000
Tel: 02-82673666

It was a little dark there, but not too bad. Just need slightly higher ISO like 400 or more.