Sunday, 21 June 2015

Mad Hatter High Tea - The Westin, Sydney CBD

I find during a rainy winter afternoon, there's nothing better than spending time indoors, enjoying a leisurely afternoon tea. The Bar Lobby and Lounge at The Westin has a Mad Hatter High tea which looks rather adorable. 

"The Mad Hatter is having afternoon tea 
We welcome you to share in his glee 
A curious menu, under our clock chime 
From noon to 6 daily, do be on time"

A girlfriend and I opt for the Mad Tea Party comes with a choice of tea or coffee. There's also the sparkling or cocktail options too.

Savoury tier

The savoury tier consists of the following:

Tweedledee & Tweedledum; roasted beef and fresh asparagus roulade on mini laugen 
Caterpillar; cherry bocconcini & tomato on fresh green salad boat 
Alice in Wonderland; Alaskan crabmeat salad on double bread wrapped in cucumber

I love the different savoury options; a nice twist on the usual traditional finger sandwiches. 

Sweet tier

The sweet selection looks impressive and fits with the Alice in Wonderland theme perfectly!

The Mad Hatter’s Hat; rich dark chocolate mud cake encased in chocolate icing 
The White Rabbit's Pocket Watch; purple macaroon with a blueberry cream filling 
The Queen of Hearts; layers of raspberry buttercream, chocolate ganache and raspberry jelly

Scones with jam and cream

I like the mini sized scones, which come out nice, warm and not too dry at all, which can be a disadvantage when it comes to the smaller sized scones.

Taste wise, it's pretty standard high tea fare; nothing jumps out in particular. It's not quite a 'fancy' setting for a high tea as it's just served in the hotel lobby; the service is quick and attentive.

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Friday, 19 June 2015

Ester - Chippendale, Sydney

Earlier this year, I finally got the chance to try hatted restaurant, Ester, in Chippendale for dear vxdollface's birthday. 

We are the first ones in the restaurant for a weekend lunch, though the place fills up quickly after. As a larger group, we have the banquet menu; this solves the problem of deciding on what to order.

fried chickpeas with rosemary

 house baked bread & butter

The complimentary fried chickpeas are very moreish; great to snack on in anticipation of the meal to come. It's hard not to fill up on bread and butter when it's so good!

roasted oysters 

Roasting adds such a depth of flavour; served still warm, these cooked oysters still retain the texture of the raw version.

chicken liver pate

Not the best person to comment on this dish as I'm not the world's biggest fan of pate


Oh-so-tender calamari with peas and 'green goddess' sauce

Pork belly


wood fired cauliflower with mint and almonds

This was one of my favourite dishes of the day; great charred wood fired flavour and a creamy sauce. 

wood fired steak with bagna cauda and radish

side salad

black sesame and salted caramel semi-freddo 

three milks

Cow's milk pannacotta, sheep milk yoghurt foam and goats milk dulce de leche

An interesting dessert, though not my cup of tea as I'm not a fan of the strong sheep milk yoghurt. However, the delicious creamy salted caramel semi-freddo with black sesame is right up my alley.

Some fantastic food to be had at Ester - I do think it would have been better suited to a smaller group due to the space and the type of food. I'd definitely be back to try out more of the dishes (especially that bone marrow) and to re-visit some favourites (roasted cauliflower!)

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Saturday, 13 June 2015

Contango Espresso & Cafe Enzo - Pokolbin, Hunter Valley

Where do you get a good coffee hit up in the Hunter Valley? After leafing through the many magazines, one name that kept popping up for a caffeine hit was Contango Espresso.

Off we went for a morning drive to the picturesque Pepper Estate, which is the home of Peppers Convent, Pepper Tree Wines and Contango Cafe. 

Almost every winery we stepped foot in was very pretty, and I recall remarking at most of the venues that it would be perfect for a wedding, this was definitely one of my favourites, especially with the bright red and orange autumn leaves scattered about. 

The cafe is really just a casual hole in the wall type of place that mainly offers coffees, a small selection of sweets, and packaged beans to take away. It's very quiet on a Sunday morning, and we have to go looking for a staff member as no one was manning the counter.


The coffee, made with locally roasted beans, is very smooth. It's also extremely relaxing sitting in the sun, enjoying a lazy Sunday in the beautiful surroundings.

Contango is open 7 days, 9:30am to 3:30pm. 

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Next stop was the Sacred Tree Markets, which are on every third Sunday of the month. The Sacred Tree Markets are a mixture of handmade, artisan, food, produce and alternative stallholders.

The food stalls included some home baked sweet stalls; freshly made churros, and the typical breakfast bacon and egg type places. This one place offering delicious looking indian food, smoothies and bliss balls caught our eye. This vegetarian curry and dahl with rice was just the perfect winter warmer.

I couldn't resist this cute lemon and meringue in a pot. I thought it was quite clever that it came with the spoon! Unfortunately, it didn't quite taste as good as it looked. The textures in the various layers were too same-same. 

After sitting down and enjoying the entertainment whilst we ate, we had a wander around the other stalls, and was very impressed! Very much enjoyed these markets, and wish that this were in Sydney!

Next stop was lunch. One cafe name that kept popping up was Cafe Enzo - literally every single local person that we asked for food recommendations would mention this cafe, so we knew we would have to go and check it out.

Hello, releflection!

I'm glad we got in for an early lunch, as the cafe was pretty much full and we grabbed one of the last seats available, before they started turning away walk-ins. 

Cute old coffee tin used as a cutlery holder

Ginger beer

After having too much wine the previous day, all I wanted was a refreshing ginger beer.  We had an outside table in the sunshine which was perfection.

Stuffed zucchini flowers

Inside these deep fried babies were Binnorie feta, preserved lemon, spanish relish and roast garlic aioli. 

Side note: you cannot go to the Hunter without doing the cheese tasting at Binnorie Dairy! All amazingThe labne was my favourite)

Crispy new potatoes

Served sprinkled with parmesan and with sour cream on the side; bloody awesome. 

Antipasto plate

A very generous serving of marinated feta, caper berries, semi-dried tomato, artichoke, onion jam and chargrilled ciabatta bread.

A little jar of jellybeans come with your bill! 

With some great food, spacious seating and cute decor, I can definitely see why Cafe Enzo is so popular with the locals. 

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Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Boon Cafe Jarern Chai - Haymarket, Sydney

New kid on the block in Thai Town, Boon Cafe and Jarern Chai is a Thai grocer and cafe, side by side. The fit out is modern and slick; definitely not your typical asian grocery shop. 

Boon cafe is open early from 7am for breakfast, until late for supper and desserts. The coffee is by Single Origin, and is a fantastic pit stop option for my morning walks to work. 

By night, Boon Cafe offers their Isaan menu. 

Grilled cat fish

Intrigued, we order the cat fish, wondering what it will taste like. It's quite flavoursome, though the tiny bones are a bit fiddly. 

Som Dtum Thai 

Green papaya salad with peanuts and dried shrimp

Khao Dtum Sen

These fresh rice noodles and pork short ribs were served in clear broth; just what the doctor ordered, a nourishing and warming soup for a cold evening. 

Pandan custard toast

After seeing all the Instagram posts, I couldn't go past dessert here. These bite sized pieces of toast are covered in a generous serving of custard and drizzled with condensed milk. Absolutely delicious!

I've also ear marked the amazing looking fusion sandwiches, cakes and gelato for consumption upon my next visit. 

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