Monday, 24 June 2013

Luxe Bakery

My first trip to Luxe bakery was not preempted by whispers of its mouth-watering pastries or aromatic coffee. I had never even heard of Luxe bakery before my first trip there.

One gloomy afternoon (It was actually quite sunny, but my soul was feeling quite gray and cloudy), I was strolling along Missenden Rd craving coffee. Put off by my disappointing successive trips to Campos coffee, I decided to pop in to what looked like a crowded cafe next door. I'd seen the sign before, and thought the decor was quite cute, but never had the urge to suss the place out.

So here I was, on my quest for some good coffee, and was met instead by a cabinet full of enticingly beautiful pastry, a wall of exotic breads (including sourdough!), and another cabinet of mouth watering sandwiches. This place reminded me of all the quaint little cafes Melbourne is so famous for.

My first step in to the bakery, and I was greeted by welcoming staff. I was served promptly and I ordered my usual skim latte. Whilst waiting, I just couldn't help myself with the other things on display. I ended up getting an almond croissant and the bircher muesli to go. 

Bircher Muesli- $8, Large Sk Latte- $4 Almond Croissant- $4

Whilst the croissant was beautifully light and crisp, the bircher muesli was definitely not the best I've ever had (which was disappointing for the price). The coffee was the biggest let down of all. I will be returning, however, not for the coffee but to sit down and have a proper meal. I'll be giving some of their sour dough a go, or one of their delicious sandwiches. This proper meal will definitely be followed by one of their delicious pastries! 

In terms of pricing, everything is a bit overpriced but I guess if you don't go there every single day, it's well worth a try. 

Luxe Bakery on Urbanspoon

Monday, 17 June 2013


I'd actually never heard of Pendolino before I won a $200 voucher to this lovely one-hatted restaurant. After hearing some good reviews from friends who had been, I was quite excited to go and try it. So for our anniversary, my boyfriend and I got a table with no problems for a Monday night.

The front of Pendolino- credit to the Australian for the photo

Despite the lack of view, Pendolino has a very cosy sort of feel to it. Immediately you're engulfed in an aroma of olive-oil, which gets your salivary glands working. The restaurant was dimly lit, which was perfect as it always makes the dining experience feel more private. It made me picture a lady having a secret rendezvous with her lover in her candle-lit boudoir. And maybe because it was a Monday night, but the chatter of other patrons was only a soft buzz. No noisy children running around. No other couples going over board with PDA. Just civilised individuals enjoying their meal.

But enough about the magnificent atmosphere.

Upon being seated, we were attended to immediately. We ordered and shortly after we were given a complimentary basket of bread. The waiter explained what each bread was and explained the olive oils.

Complimentary walnut sourdough, olive ciabatta, and white sourdough, with olive oils. 

Now, normally I don't touch the bread basket because we all know the bread basket can get you full before you even start your meal. But after the waiter's bread-repertoire, I couldn't help myself- and it was well worth it.

Even though the entire menu sounded absolutely scrumptious, I only felt like two things that night, fish and beef. Being students, with poor student incomes, fine-dining restaurants are usually saved for special occasions for us. So we decided to order different things so we could taste as much as possible.

He ordered the
  • Carpaccio Di Manzo All'Albese- Alba style Free-Range Raw Beef Carpaccio with Truffled White Walnut Puree, Testun di Baralo Cheese, Rocket Cress, Wild Baby Olives and Handmade Rosemary Grissini
Carpaccio Di Manzo All'Albese- $26.50

Whilst I chose the
  • Tonno Tonnato- a raw salad of yellow fin tuna with Tonnato dressing, rocket cress, baby chard and sicilian capers.
Tonno Tonnato- $24.90

I have to say, my choice definitely tasted better. The flavours were rich without being overbearing. Though the raw beef sounded appealing at first, the flavours of the oils were too much for me. It left me feeling kind of full and sick. The boyfriend also agreed that the tuna was absolutely beautiful, whilst his beef... well not so much.

For the mains, I just couldn't tear my eyes away from the beef so I had the
  • Brasato Di Manzo Alle Amarene- Ten Hour Cooked, Pasture Fed Beef Oyster Blade, Parsnip Puree, Grilled Green Shallot, Pearl Garlic, Amarena Sour Cherry Sauce.
Brasato Di Manzo Alle Amarene- $42.90

And since my boyfriend loves his lamb, he had the
  • Agnello Al Forno Con Salsa Al Dragoncello- Slow Cooked Gippsland Lamb, Grilled White Polenta, Tuscan Black Cabbage, Baby Carrots, Dragoncello Salsa and Lamb Sauce.
Agnello Al Forno Con Salsa Al Dragoncello- $43.60
Once again, I liked my dish so much better. I felt like the lamb just had too many things going on. It was like a party in my mouth but the crowd didn't quite mix. I was not a fan of the Tuscan Black Cabbage as it was too salty, and just made the whole dish too acidic for my liking. The grilled white polenta was an absolute delight, though, and went beautifully with the lamb. 

My beef, however, was tender, moist, and perfectly pink- and slow-cooked it was! It felt like professional ballroom dancers were waltzing in my mouth. 

By then we were both immensely satiated but we wanted to use the whole $200 voucher and the dessert menu sounded scrumptious. Normally I would've chosen something extremely rich and creamy like the Nougat, Ligurian Honey and Almond Milk Semifreddo with Candied Almond and Crostoli. But since dinner was rich enough, I chose the Granita Di Melograno E Anguria instead- Pomegranate and Water Melon Granita with Rose and Basil Gelato, Rose Water Jelly, NV La Farra Prosecco Extra Dry DOCG

Granita Di Melograno E Anguria- $17.90
It was so nice and refreshing- just what I needed after such a hearty meal. The granita mainly tastes of watermelon. The basil and rose gelato is something you must try. Basil in ice cream? That is unheard of! But you will not be disappointed. It's weird- but in a good way. Plus, I had a little bit of fun pouring the bubbly in and watching it fizz. Personally, I felt the dish tasted better without the champagne, but maybe that's because I don't really like the taste of champagne.

My boyfriend had the Meringata Di Fragoline E Rabarbaro- Classic Meringue Cake with Braised Rhubarb and Wild Strawberries, Lambrusco Jelly and Wild Strawberry Sorbet. 

Meringata Di Fragoline E Rabarbaro- $17.90

The Strawberry Sorbet was nothing special, but when eaten altogether, the dish just works. The Meringue was absolutely beautiful. Not overly sweet and with just enough crisp to it. 

All throughout the meal the staff were very attentive, though at times overly attentive. However, they're knowledgeable and very helpful. What makes all the difference to me, though, is that the dishes all had 10/10 presentation.

And although I didn't try the pastas, the rest of the menu isn't very Italian. If you're looking for authentic Italian cuisine, you won't find it here. But it is a very pleasurable fine-dining experience.

I won't be back there any time soon, though purely based on the price range of the dishes. Even if you had tons of disposable income, Pendolino's isn't the sort of place you would go regularly. It's the sort of place you take someone for their birthday, or a client out for a business dinner, or if your'e really trying to impress someone.

But if you're like me, on a student budget, I'd recommend Pendolino's as a try once kind of place. 

Price Ranges to prepare your pocket:

Entree: Average at about $25.
Mains: Average at about $40.
Desserts: Average at about $20.

Pendolino on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Madam Char Char

One night, after a particularly awesome gym session, my boyfriend and I found ourselves wandering along Surry Hills, hungry for food. Not knowing where to eat, and wanting to avoid our usual choice of Asian cuisine, we pulled out our trusty Urban Spoon ap, which led us to this wonderful gem: Madam Char Char.

Madam Char Char- located on 285A Crown St, Surry Hills

The restaurant front sported a big open window, beckoning us in. When I saw the chicken on the menu, it was instantly decided that we would eat here- protein, that's some good shitake.

To my surprise, as I looked down below the menu board, there was a giant array of salads before me.
This. Was. Heaven.
I'm sure all the other salad enthusiasts out there would agree with me. Often, when trying to eat healthy, people opt for less carbs and more veggies. But when people think of salads they usually think: boring.
WRONG. Salads are not always  boring and the salads offered at Madam Char Char's is a prime example of this fact. 

The words quinoa, avocado, pumpkin, walnuts, barley and spinach jumped out at me. That's when I knew these salads were going to be some good quality shitake.

The menu offered a nice selection of burgers and although they sounded mouth-watering, I decided to be good today. But here's the burger menu for you to drool over anyway:

So what the other side of the menu offered was either a quarter or a half chicken (hormone, and chemical free!- as advertised on the site), along with three salads. I had much difficulty deciding which salads to get but finally opted for the:
  • Pearl barley with sumac, grapes, toasted almonds, shredded chicken and pomegranate.
  • Quinoa with roast eggplant, toasted nuts, rocket and currants.
  • And the third salad had broccoli and snow peas in it but I don't think that's on the menu anymore. 
My boyfriend also got the barley and quinoa but opted for the rocket, baby beetrot, basil, avocado and feta salad instead of the broccoli. 

They also gave us a choice of dressings, and we both opted for the mint yogurt dressing. 

Quarter chicken and three salads of your choice: $15.90

When people think of salads, they don't usually imagine the most satisfying of meals. But this definitely filled the both of us up! My boyfriend just finished it, feeling awesomely stuffed whilst I was already awesomely stuffed after half my chicken and two salads. I had to take the third salad and some of the chicken away! There was enough of it left to be my lunch for the next day!

So overall, I was pleasantly surprised! This meal was incredibly satiating and for the incredibly inexpensive price, it was well worth it. We've paid much more for dinners that have left our tummies rumbling afterwards. 

If you're looking for a place to get your regular healthy feed, this is the place to go. Especially if you want something that's sustainable for your pocket. What's even more awesome is that this place is vegan friendly.

The staff there are also incredibly nice, friendly, and not to mention patient with my indecisiveness. I will be back for sure, but next time I'll definitely be giving the burger menu a go. ;)

Price Range to prepare your pockets:


Madam Char Char:
Madam Char Char on Urbanspoon