Sunday, December 7, 2014

Murray Brewery and Port Stephen Winery

All right, if you are travelling from Sydney to Port Stephens, one you are off the highway, it is not easy to miss the big banner for the Port Stephens Winery. As you enter the winery, and make it to the reception, it is the Murray's Brewery for beer and the Port Stephens Winery. Coincidentally, I had been here  few years back, in a bus tour to Port Stephens. I remembered this place too well for its fantastic fish and chips. This time, some one told me to look out for Murray's brewery and I was overjoyed upon arrival to realize it was the same place.

Big area with lawns for the family, another outside seating with barrels as tables and then the main area with a white canopy and tables underneath. Coming around in December, there was a festive spirit in the air. Big groups of families and friends partying. The bar was decorated with Christmas trees and Santa hats. The white canopy had big tables reserved with the Christmas spread. Live music made it even better.

Well, we were starving and decided to quickly dig into the food. The menu had a lot of options, but knowing me, it was more about trying out a few dishes, although I do get carried away and over ambitious at times. I started with the chicken wings for starters. What was interesting is that most of the food here had beer or wine in some form or the other. Be it the golden ale which is used in the pizza crust to lighten it, the beer BBQ sauce, or the battered fish. Well I simply ordered the chicken wings, the fish and chips and the Punch and Judy’s Pizza.

Let’s start with the chicken wings. Very very crispy and crunchy. It was served in a small steel bucket, along with a chipotle BBQ Sauce. The sauce was overwhelming. A very dark brown thick sauce. One dip and you realized, that the sauce had a dark mysterious enchanting smoky flavor. I tend to make it sound mystical, but well this chicken wings and the sauce was legendary. I have had chicken wings, and I loved this one, due to the crunch, but the smoky flavor of the sauce was too good to be true. One small tub had about 9 or pieces.

Next came the fish and chips. The fish was battered with the whale ale, and served in a wooden tray with crispy pieces of the fish. This fish is undoubtedly one of the best and the same as I had a few years back. Very crispy. Served with shoe string fries and two dips, one of tartare sauce and the other was a green one- which I believe was for mushy peas. Very tasty again and I would love to come back here again for the fish and chips.


The Punch and Judy Pizza, was the tandoori chicken pizza, with avocado, rocket, jalapenos and yogurt. Now yougurt was an interesting twist, but this woodfired pizza was yum and it was full of fresh ingredients. I loved the pizza. 


A word of advise, the portion are quite generous. The pizza was huge and so were the 
 








All the three dishes were really really good and I would highly recommend this as a must stop for all travelers. The bar was decorated for Christmas. The festive spirit, and the live music, just made it a perfect stop over.


Phone: 02 4982 6411
3443 Nelson Bay Rd, Bobs Farm NSW 2316


Murray's Brewery on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Only Place, Nelsons Bay, Port Stephens


All right, our first day into Port Stephens. We watched the sunset over little beach and then head back into nelsons bay main street near the market. Park the car and we were roaming around aimlessly into the market and then crossed the street into the D’Alboro Marina, where it was quite the atmosphere. Live music and the buzz. Anyways we were figuring out what we wanted to have and decided to settle for Indian. Now there were two options, one called our place and the other Taj Tandoori. While only place was in the basement, the other one Taj Tandoori was nearby on the first floor, with no lift.

I looked at both places, and Taj Tandoori seemed a bit quiet and the fact it was on first floor with no lift access, made it a bit difficult option for my mom. We went to Our place and this was in the basement of a shopping market. Now the fact that al other shops were closed, the restaurant had created a seating outside in the common area and had curtains and plants as a makeshift arrangement. This was quite unique and interesting and there were quite a few people, hence we decided for this one.

We were surrounded by mostly Aussie folks and another Indian couple. Now as we settled in and looked into the menu, we ordered for a tandoori chicken as the starters. I asked the waiter to reduce the artificial red and orange colour in the tandoori chicken. I did see the one served at the next seat and it was so red. In terms of the mains we ordered for the karahi chicken. For the next mains there was no goat served here. We wanted to take a pick form the prawns, and the options were the garlic prawns or the prawn malabari. We decided to settle for the prawns malabari.

Now the tandoori chicken arrived after quite the wait. In between, we were told that the full chicken had finished and only a half was available. The chicken was just too colored to be honest. Unnatural red. The outer layer of masala was ok, but it wasn’t well marinated. Inside it was bland white chicken and not too hot inside. It made me think it was pre cooked and microwaved. Not good to be honest, just ok.

Then again the very long wait for the mains. After a very long wait, the mains came over. The karahi chicken which was recommended was just about ok. Brown gravy with capsicums and diced onions. The quantity and quality of chicken was descent. However, the taste again was about average. Nothing that I would remember too distinctly. However, as I said, just about average.



Next came the malabari prawns. Now this one was nice. It had a coconut based gravy, with mustard. This had fresh beans and diced potatoes along with fresh prawns.  I would say the gravy was really nice, creamy and tasteful. The prawns were fresh. I liked this dish the best out of the lot.



The breads again were a mix. The garlic naan was good, the roti was about ok. The keema naan, which I really expected to be awesome was somewhere in between. Traditional keema naans in Australia have a filling of minced lamb. It was different from what I expected. The keema naan in this case was a mix between an aloo parantha with some keema in it. It was different from what I thought it would be, but it was too less in terms of stuffing, and even more stingy with the meat filling.

I did speak to the owners and they are a nice couple from Maharashtra, who have been here quite many years.

Overall, there were quite a few English families and may be it suffices to the palates for the aussie folks for curries, but for me, not really. Just about very average. Would I come here again? Most likely not.

10/17-19 Stockton St, Nelson Bay NSW 2315
(02) 4984 4414








Only Place on Urbanspoon


Monday, November 24, 2014

Little Nel Cafe, Nelsons Bay

All right , this one is about the breakfast experience from my weekend trip to Nelsons Bay. We were staying at Soldiers point and I was searching on the internet for good joints for breakfast. I am usually tempted with breakfast joints at holiday destinations as they have good cafes, creative menus and a relaxed ambience and set up. So we drove down to main Nelsons Bay area and went to the Little Nel Café. Situated on 3 Government Road, this is right at the start of the market. The good part is that you can park across the street and hop down to this place. I believe it is the eatery of the Nelson Resort.

Now on the ground floor, this café has a very relaxed ambience and casual seating. There are seats inside, in the building. A wooden veranda on the left has open air seating under canopies, and then there si the front lawn as well. Couches, tables, stools, all multi modes for seating. Looking at the menu, there were the regular options of breakfast including museli, fruits, bacon and egg, and whole lot of other stuff.
We settled in outside on the lawn, on the big sofa/ couch with a low table and view of the bay behind us.

Well I settled for the chocolate milkshake along with the chilli scrambled eggs, while for my brother and mom, I ordered the vegetable stack. Now the waitresses were very friendly and pretty to be honest. They were really sweet and very caring.  The chocolate milkshake arrived first.  This was OMG, unbelievable. I think this is the best milkshake I have had in Australia so far. A huge steel glass, with a thick smooth consistency of mill, ice cream, chocolate and crushed ice. Seriously, this was indulgence, and a sinful one. Too good and highly recommended.
 
Next came the chilli scrambled egg. This was like a stack of omelet with red chilli stuffing. Now being an Indian I can definitely handle the chilli and I was wondering how  hot this would be. Well, to be honest I was just okay, not too hot, but then good enough for a breakkie. I wouldn't have expected to get anything too hot in the morning. Now the stack of omelet squares or the scrambled eggs, was topped with yogurt. Now this was interesting. Mildly sweet yogurt topped on the hot omelet. This was served with locally grown fresh avocado and grilled tomato and two slices of toast and butter. I loved it. I mean specially the egg with yogurt went well and interesting. The sweetness of the yogurt countered the heat of the chilli's and the creamy avocado, just lovely.

The next dish was the vegetable stack with poached eggs. This was a stack of veggie patties, with loads of nuts. In the patty and crispy fan fried. I think between the patties, there was a beetroot paste. This was served with poached egg and rocket on the top. The beauty of it was that the poached eggs, when cut would lead to the egg yellow overflowing the entire stack of pattie. The taste was yum. The pattie had potato and nuts, which was nice, along with the eggs, it was yum. Highly recommended.

All in all I loved the setting, the ambience and  the creative menu. I was so tempted to think while sitting there in the café, if I would ever come here specially for the breakfast again, and I thought, why not. I thought this one was another of my great finds in the space of breakfast cafes in Australia. Highly recommended if you are in Port Stephens/ Nelsons Bay area.

The Nelson Resort (visit Reception)
3-7 Government Road, Nelson Bay NSW 2315
(02) 4916 4600











The Little Nel Cafe on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Eat @ Joes, Gurgaon

All right. This one is about a place which I would term undoubtedly an euphoric find. To give you a background, I was back home in Gurgaon for one whole month this year. And as always with the good times, I was meeting a lot many friends and discovering many new places. It was the foodie trail. And across most of these visits, I was just impressed with Gurgaon. Boy, it has changed. The café culture seemed to have hit the wild wild west. Now it seems like the renaissance in Gurgaon, when the crowds are only after continental and world cuisine. The craze for anything that is not Indian. Andy hence we have cafes mushrooming out at every nook and corner, with stereotyped décor with Lennon and Marley on he wall, tobasco and barbeque sauce at every table. While this satisfied the palate of the locals who have been used to tikkas and chaat and Chinese, or of expats who do come in, I unfortunately was hard to please. But this review is not about the bricks in the wall that remained there insignificantly, his one is about the brick from the shawshank redemption.

For quite a few days I had been craving for a lamb burger and hot dog. Specially the hot dog- I was on the verge of hallucinating. Well, this is when I went over to cross point mall and went to Eat @ Joes. Now Eat@ Joes was  small little shop. Unknowingly in the past, I had gone past it quite a few times and hadn’t really discovered this one. But this time, I did go in. It’s the all American diner. The menu is simple and straight forward, sandwiches, shakes, hotdogs, burger, fries.  

Well, I simply went into the section for hot dogs, and there were a few options. Simple and basic hot dog with  honey mustard and sweet relish. There is another version with the cheese. The top of class is the chicken hot dog, with Mexican lamb chilli and cheese. Now this is the one which I went for. All these years abroad, I was struggling to find good Continental fare in Gurgaon. Second, all these years abroad and I still didn’t eat beef and pork, so the craving for hot dogs is usually very high. In fact I was  telling my friend that this is the beauty of India, it is only here you can get versions of chicken hot dogs which are smoked and  juicy, and lamb mince which recreates the essence which is unparalleled.

The hotdogs when it arrived, let me tell you, it looked amazing. It looked like a boat, with a sausage and topped with a blankets of lamb mince and topped with cheese which was molten. Unbelievable.  One bite and it was heaven. Just blissful and heaven. I am serious. This was stunning and unbelievable. The quality of sausage was wow- smoked and juicy. The mince was well cooked. The hotdog breads were buttered. I cant tell you how awesome it was. After many years, I felt excited to have had something so delicious. In fact I was after a few hours till late in the night having a big grin.  Highly recommended. It comes with fries and jalapenos and this I think is the best dish.

The lamb burger is the next one on the line, which  I tried in the same place in my second visit. Yes, so good it was that I came for the second time in the same visit. The lamb burger is the next one which I tried here. This one has an option with one patty or two patties. I settled for the lamb burger with two patties.  Now this burger again, is out of the world.  A big burger with fresh lettuce, two juicy char grilled lamb patties, mayonnaise, caramelize onions. One bite and you know this has hit the spot. Off late, I did try the lamb burger at a few times, in Gurgaon and I am telling you, this was by far the best one I have had. The taste is intoxicating slightly burnt, mixed with the sauces, jalapenos and the juicy patty. Loved it. The fries and the burger, lovely. Again highly recommended. I loved the burger, and its quite a mouthful. 

The nearby café Delhi Heights and Joint Café boasts of a lamb burger, but in my humble opinion, this one is miles ahead and better.  For the love of burgers and for people who know what it means to dig into a lamb burger patty with that unique lamb flavor, which has a mild fragrance, and juiciness.  I am not one of those who like a very strong lamb fragrance, due to the fact that we have grown up I India eating goats, but then in India, you can find a juicy mince lamb patty with a fragrance and all the taste. So, yes, please go for the burger for sure.

The other thing I have tried here is the cheese lettuce tomato sandwich, which again is good. The fries here are crispy and great.  The owner of this joint is a nice gentleman, with whom I did catch up and chat. He has studied in Perth and stayed in US as well.  

All in all, a highly recommended café and I love this outlet.In fact this has been one of my favorite joints now.  I am still looking forward to visiting this café again in my next visit.



 http://eatatjoes.in
Shop no. 115, Crosspoint Mall, DLF Phase 4 Gurgaon 
+91 124-4141444











Friday, November 14, 2014

Mosaic@ Westin Sydney

All right this one is about the breakfast experience in Sydney. All these years in Sydney and the craving for a lavish breakfast and lack of brekkie culture always made me wish for more. I went far away to other towns on holidays to get the brekkie experience. From Gold Coast to Melbourne, Coffs Harbor to Narooma, I go to cafes and love the breakfast and just wonder when I will get that similar experience in Sydney. In some ways I am envious of Melbourne which  has a much better café culture and breakfasts. However, there is one place in Sydney, which beats it all. Mosaic @Hotel Westin. Today was my second visit and I must tell you, it is one of those rare places in Australia which has matched my expectations of class and luxury.
 
Mosaic is situated in the city, on George street, at the Westin Hotel next to the GPO building. As you enter through the reception of Westin and go to Level 1, there is an outdoor seating, with the breakfast spread. Once you are seated, you can savor the views of the heritage building of the General Post Office,  look through the glass ceiling into the bright sun streaming down along the tall clock tower. The ambience is exquisite, with soft music playing in the background. Just immaculate.

The spread for the buffet is quite vast. You have the fresh fruits, museli, corn flakes and an entire spread and variety of flakes that go with the milk. Now I am not a person who does milk or corn flakes, so lets move to the next section. There is an entire spread of cold meats, salmon and cheese. For me, it was simply the turkey slices and the Swiss cheese to start off with. The juices had apple, guava, pineapple and orange. Then there was the carrot ginger palate cleanser in the little shot glasses. There was the banana smoothie and the watermelon punch was quite refreshing on a warm Friday morning. There was an array of breads, along with the toaster, croissants, bagels . An array of jams and spreads, vegemite, butter, peanut butter.

The main stuff was the hot section. This is where we had the veal sausages and bacon- which was out of scope for me. However, what does work for me and what I have only seen here in Sydney across Australia is the turkey bacon and the turkey sausages, which are awesome and lovely. The scrambled eggs and poached eggs, eggs hollandaise are again great. The array continue to steamed and light beans, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, hash browns, diced potatoes grilled, baked beans. The counter has two chefs making omelet’s as per your order. Make your selection from onions, capsicum cheese or ham and get a fresh omelet made.  Personally I found the omelet a bit too bland to my taste.
The pastries and cakes had a good selections of almond biscotti’s, Danish, cup cakes and all. This section was again lovely. Really delicious cakes and sweet breads.

All in all a lovely experience. The food spread is pretty good, the ambience and the set up are outstanding, the service is impeccable.  The food quality is great. I will really recommend going for this breakfast buffet. The buffet costs$42, which is on the higher side, but if you look at the deal, I think its pretty good. Go for it guys. Enjoy it. Every time I come here for breakfast, Igo out with a food induced coma. It’s called indulgence.

Level 1, 1 Martin Place Sydney, NSW 2000 · Australia

Phone: +61 2 8223.1110     Email: westin.sydney@westin.com


Mosaic on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Wimpy’s Burgers New Delhi


All right, this one is about Wimpy’s at Delhi. Now Delhi and Gurgaon seem to be going through a transformation and have hit upon the phase of cafes. And there are joints every here and there wich serve burgers. But there are some things which just are the originls and the basics. These are the classics. They have existed when no one else existed. Wimpy’s and Nirula’s to me are those classics. Much before Mcdonalds came to India. There are memories of growing up in Delhi and going to these outlets and hanging out.




Unfortunately, Wimpy’s  is now limited to a very few places. The only one that I am aware of is one at Hauz Khas- at Aurbindo Market. If you are driving from Essex farms or IIT and driving on the road to AIIMs, on your left is the Aurbindo Place Market. The road next to this market leads to Hauz Khas Village.
Now it’s a basic takeaway outlet and there is some casual outdoor seating. The menu is limited and I usually opt for the lamb burgers here. They have a hamburger- which is a lamb burger of smaller size, and the maxi burger is the same burger, but bigger size. I usually go for the double maxi burger.

Now the burger itself is very basic and simple, and perhaps this why I love it. No riff raffs like the new cafes and gourmet bugers. It doesn’t boast anything other than two lamb patties, which are juicy and with cabbage, and mayonnaise and a cheese slice. That’s it. Perfectly simply. You get to relish the juicy patty, its beautiful. I don’t know if it’s the simplicity or the memories of growing up, but I just love the burgers at Wimpy’s.  other fare includes the fish burgers, chicken nuggets and chicken burgers. They do serve pizzas as well. However for me, it is as simple as going for the double maxi burger.

Wimpy’s
31, Aurobindo Place Market, Hauz Khas, New Delhi

011 26512763

Dine Esty



All right this one is about Dine Esty. Dine Esty is a Chinese Japanese restaurant in Gurgaon, near the Huda City Center, in the building adjoining the Radisson Suites. Now there is a bit of history to my experiences to this restaurant. This restaurant has been there for close 10 years now. I have been in Gurgaon since 1999 and I had seen this restaurant over the years. I had in my initial years headed out to Bercos for a few years and the Golden Dragon. Due to certain shortcoming on these places, I started with Dine Esty and boy, its been good. Over the years, if I have to go to Chinese in Gurgaon- this is the place for me.

The interiors are pretty good, modern and yet a bit with the Chinese influence. The music is normally western. As you enter, there is a bar to the left. Further in and on the right is the diner section. Further ahead, there is a kitchen where they make sushi and sashimi. I have probably gone there innumerable times so I’ll talk about a few dishes.

In terms of starters, my regular favorite is the chicken salt and pepper, which is usually smaller pieces of diced chicken, which is golden fried in a batter, and with garlic and spring onions. This is the best starter in my humble opinion, which I order almost every time. There is the Xian chilli chicken with bigger pieces of chicken fried with stripes of capsicums.

The serve a large variety of dim sums, although to be honest, I prefer momos’s outside , but that’s my choice and taste. I did try recently the Singapore chilli prawns. They were a bit sweet and spicy at the same time. Again wet, sticky and gooey texture with red sauce.  The prawns Id say were just descent and I have had recently much better prawns at canton spice co. The prawns were probably a bit smaller and that you felt that there was too much of batter which made the prawn less to find. Not bad, but not that great.

In the soups, my favorite is the Mun Chow soup with minced onion, veggies and chicken soup. This usually comes topped with the crispy fried noodles on the top. Other wise, you can go for the hot sour soup, lemon coriander or the Talumein. All the soups are good. The only soup which I didn’t seem to like is the sweet corn soup, which seemed canned soup to me in texture.

Coming to main course, I usually go in for the chicken in hot garlic sauce. The Kung Pao chicken is great. Also, the chicken in XO sauce, and home style are great. I really like there sauces and they are really good. The chicken with bamboo shoot and black mushroom seem to be pretty bland and simple.

They do serve crab, whole fish, lamb and pork, although I don’t have a review as I usually stick to the chicken. In the fish, I can tell you that the fish in butter chilli pepper garlic is very tasty and recommended. With veggies and a white sauce, I love this preparation of fish.

The one dish that I always have here is also the American chopsuey. Now I don’t know whats so American, but the crispy fried noodles topped with hot red tangy sauce with chicken and topped with a fried egg. Boy, it is a delight to see the egg yellow break and spread over the sauce. A spoonful of this with crunchy noodles getting soaked in the sauce.

The fried rice, corn kernel  and spring onion rice are good. The mixed fried rice is also my favorite. The pan fried noodles, are also good, they are crispy on one end and a bit soft and liquidy on the other end. It comes with loads of veggies, so don’t under estimate the quantity.  The hakka noodles and chilli garlic noodles are pretty standard.

So all in all, the food quality is very good. Now different people have different perceptions of what Chinese should be. For me, most of the Chinese you get in India is Indian Chinese at the end of the day. I personally love this more than anything else. Staying abroad, I have had Chinese, but I don’t exactly like it. In India, the Indian Chinese has more pronounced flavors, more garlic and chilli, more crispy fried.

So essentially, I love Dine Esty and it satisfies my craving for Chinese. I call Bite Quest and get an additional 15% discount. The overall cost of this restaurant is a bit on the higher side, where a meal for two may cost approx. Rs 2000- Rs 2500/-.

My recommendation is yes for a visit to this place. I would definitely go again.

Time Square Building, B Block, Sushant Lok 1, Gurgaon