Saturday, September 20, 2014

Nicks Bar and Grill, King Street Wharf, Sydney

All right. A farewell of a colleague and bright sunny day and I am called upon to make the booking. The options on the king street wharf are many, but mostly pubs food. I decide for Nicks bar and grill.
Now, as we head in, it’s a bright day, and nothing could be better than sitting out in the open. The seating is well spread out. The menu has mostly fishes. Crabs, prawns, john dory, barramundi and the likes. There are starter platters with breads, antipasto, mussels, salt and pepper calamari smoked salmon. There is a wide array of oysters as well. For main, there are many variants of fishes. There is also a number of items from the grill including stakes, kangaroo, lamb souvlaki and chicken breast.
As we settle in, I am not too much in for the fish. Partly due to the fact that last night was massive hangover and bad taste from the mussels and the body needed to recuperate. So the choice was between the two chicken dishes – the chicken breast or the chicken souvlaki. I finally decided for the chicken breast.  The waitress did advise us to go for any sides with the chicken. I decided to go for the mashed potatoes and the mushroom sauce.
In addition there was also the $13 meals for the lunch option. It included the fish and chips, or the chicken schnitzel and salt and pepper calamari.

Now, to be honest, the meals took a very long time to come. However, I was also conscious of the fact that we had a big group of 20 people with us, so I could understand.
The dish finally arrived. Well the look were amazing. The chicken breast was grilled and seemed lightly marinated. It came with boiled beans and asparagus. There were fresh tomatoes, diced and feta. The mashed potatoes and the mushroom sauce arrived. Well, I was starving and the chicken was just perfect. It was juicy with crispy skin. The mushroom sauce was very well. The chicken with the green beans, asparagus and the mashed potatoes and the sauce was perfect. I loved it and it was what I was craving for all this while. All in all highly recommended. I will definitely go there again.

The main course dishes $28 -$42. The chicken breast came for $29. The sauces and side were each $3 extras. I loved it and would highly recommend.
Nick's Bar and Grill
The Promenade, King Street Wharf
Sydney NSW 2000 Australia

T: 1300 989 989

Nick's Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Camel Burger @ Kings Canyon Resort

All right , this is about Kings Canyon Resort and Camel Burgers. Yes, you heard it right. Camel Burger.

Now on the third day of our trip to the outback, we decided to go to the Kings Canyon for the rim walk. It was close to 320 kms from Ayers Rock and well into the outback. Now, the walk in itself was an experience of a lifetime. It was unbelievable and speechless and yet tiring. A climb up to the top of the canyon which had about 500 steps, which were basically rock steps. Then a 8 km walk all around the rim, which took us through variety of scenery and views which was simply overwhelming. The 8 km walk with our tour guide from AAT kings and on a day with 36 degrees heat, it called for a special celebration. Oh yeah for real.

So the bus took us down to the Kings Canyon resort and this was literally in the middle of nowhere. A resort, petrol pump, souvenir shop and a restaurant. The Desert Oaks Bistro and the thirsty Dingo Bar.

Well by the looks of it, it was the outback- the stereotyped scenario. A hot afternoon, with one in sight. the empty [petrol pump where a small off roading SUV stands and a dog sits in the back, while the owner with a cowboy hat fills the fuel. the wind runs through the desert with an eerie sound and blowing layers of mud and dust. on the other hand, an eatery which seems nondescript and without life from outside, until you enter and realise, this is the oasis in the desert.

Well we were all very sore and the bus tour guide had announced that the eatery was famous for the camel burger. Now looking at the menu, there were not too many chicken options to be honest. I started off thinking that Camel Burger, eww!!!. No way. What if it had a smell and what if it was chewy and just such similar repulsive questions. First I hit the Thristy Dingo Bar and settled for a couple of schooners of the Carlton. it was what you need on a hot day. A look around and there were leather couches and a pool table. the perfect Aussie bar set up.

Next, when the heat got off me, we decided to go for the camel Burger and the George’s Tandoori Chicken Pizza. I thought, let’s give it a go, at worst, we will throw it away and eat the pizza. I asked the chef and he recommended it as well. When I asked him, he suggested that it was  minced meat patty and well-cooked and like beef minus the grease. Now I haven’t had beef, so this was definitely a very big jump. The chef was great and he spent time to ensure I was ok and comfortable. Our tour guide Kylie was also good and told me not to worry. In fact they were amused, I was so apprehensive.

The George’s tandoori project was just about average and not that great. I thought it was about average and not too generous with the serving of the chicken on the pizza.

The camel burger, when it came was a good patty, crispy char grilled blackish. The first bite and it was heaven. Unbelievable. I just didn’t realize that it would be this good. It was a minced camel meat patty and in a burger with lettuce, tomato, cheese. The patty was unbelievable and I could not help realizing that this was so yum. Specially the camel meat patty. It was minced with herbs and chargrilled. Lovely with the mayo and the cheese and fresh lettuce.

At one instance we shared the pizza and the burger and trust me I later regretted sharing the burger. I was in fact tempted to go and order another burger for takeaway, but somehow I didn’t. The craving grew over the next few days as I returned to Ayers Rock. Even now that I am back in Sydney, I am still searching for camel burgers.

All in all a great afternoon. The Desert Oaks Bistro is good. The Thirsty Dingo Bar is again great. Both do up the complete outback experience in this desolate part fo the world. Highly recommended.

The mains are approx. $20.

Kings Canyon Resort 
Luritja Road Watarrka National ParkNT 0872 AU

Desert Oaks Bistro on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Waterfalls Café, Mt Fields National Park, TAS

All right this is about my last day in Tassie. We drove from Hobart in the morning and decide to go Mt Field National Park. We had already covered Mt Wellington the day before.  As we drove towards the Dervent River and further into Mount Field National park, the landscape was so different and beautiful. Anyways, after doing a few walks we came over to this café at the visitor center for a quick lunch. The Waterfalls café has a seating outside in the garden from where the walks start, as well as in a wooden cottage which has the café.

Well to be honest, this is actually the middle of now where. Tasmania is all about natural beauty, well preserved in time,  and fresh produce. The menu had scones, coffee, toasted sandwiches, foccacia’s, soups and the regular café fare. We decided to go for chicken schnitzel and the salmon fillet. The chicken schnitzel was served with chips and gravy. The schnitzel was heavenly, very fresh chicken and the crumb fried was wow. I have had chicken schnitzel so many places, but the quality of crumb fried was one of the best.  The schnitzel in itself came in a heart shape. The gravy was probably about ok.  The chips were crinkle cut.

Next comes the Tasmanian salmon fillet.   Now to be honest, I am not too much of a fish person,  but I decided to try the salmon fillet. Tassie is famous for the salmon fillet. The salmon fillet was well done and came with fries and the chips. I did taste the fillet and found it quite fresh. However as I said, a few bites for me, cos I am not too much of a fan for fish. My mother on the other hand did like the fish quite a lot.
For desert I ordered the chocolate mud cake.  It came served with a mud cake, some cream and raspberry syrup.  Lovely again.
All in all a good little café, and if you are in the area, do go over. Nothing to fancy but good food.

Phone:(03) 6288 1526

Waterfalls Cafe and Gallery
Mt Field Visitors Centre
90 Lake Dobson Road
Mt Field TAS 7140

December - April              9am to 5pm
May - November              10am - 4pm

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Zenobia, Lebanese, North Strathfild


All right, this one is about a Friday night. Another week gone down the drain, or rather another brick in the wall, and we as always have bitten the dust. Come back to my home Strathfield and then we three friends are thinking what do we do? Options near Strathfield. Korean Barbeque’s, naah. Indian curries at strathfield, homebush, naah. What I want is an evening where I can relax, have something which is not too heavy on the food. Well, we decide by a process of elimination and shortlist a Lebanese restaurant- Zenobia. We have been here once before and it was pretty decent.

So the boys get set and leave for North Strathfield via the train. Located on the main George Street in North Strathfield. For a Friday evening, we were surprised that it wasn’t too busy, in comparison to what we had seen before usually when passed the restaurant. We had the option of sitting inside or outside. Outside they had placed seats and canopies, with fire heaters. We settled for the outside seating. There is BYO, so the two bottles of reds were definitely welcome.

Looking at the menu, we had the options of going for the menu. Now in a previous visit, I did have the starter banquet, which had a whole array of dips, vegetarian options, and then the chicken and lamb options. From memory, it was good, but I didn’t want to go for it again. Why? Because I like chicken more than beef, not too interested in the veggie options.

So we ordered ala carte. For dips we ordered hommous and baba ghanoush dips. The hommous as always was perfect and mild, with smooth consistency. The baba ghanoush dip had a smoky flavor. We were served some Lebanese breads and another interesting variants with was more like crispy popadums. When we asked the gentleman, he indicated this was more like a Lebanese bread with zatar, which was deep fried. There was a topping of herbs on the bread. He informed that zatar is usually a herb in the middle east which is dried, made as a powder and then used on the various cooking forms. He also serve us a chilly dip/paste just to spice it up.

The dips and the bread were a perfect start to conversation. Just lovely.

For starters we ordered the Falafel and the Chicken Ribs with the chilli. The falafel, was descent but not out of the world. While I have had better falafel, yet this one was descent enough. Went well with the two dips. The Chicken Ribs with chilli soon arrived and trust me this was the starter which hit the spot. Very tasty, juicy succulent pieces, medium spiced. Just went wonders with the Lebanese breads and the hommous. This one is highly recommended.

Next we got our mains. There were three of us and so we had ordered three main courses.  Firstly the BBQ Chicken Skewers.  This one came with three skewers with quite thick chunks of chicken. The chicken was really juicy and succulent. I mean, great spices and juicy. Served with a Garlic Dip and some onions and a flat bread with chilli. Again, loved the dish and well worth it. Lovely spices and very juicy. Must Have.

The next dish we ordered was the Chicken Shawarma. When we ordered this, we thought it was probably one of the regular shawarma where they just scoop or scrape chicken down from the big chicken cylinder rotating in the regular chicken shawarma units. We were quite apprehensive why we should order this. However on asking the waiter and we were recommended to go for this one for sure and we sure did. The dish was wow. Again, small pieces, well spiced and juicy, garlic sauce, lemon and a big serving of chips. Again, I was impressed with this dish. Really good.

The last dish was the Riz-a-la-dijaj. This was supposed to be a whole baby chicken – baked and served with basmati rices with sultanas, apricots. Now, to be honest, at this time of ordering I thought this might be the best dish. To be true, when we did get the dish, I wasn’t impressed to be honest. The chicken was about ok and nothing too great. Out of all the dishes, this one was not what I liked.

However, a good evening with great food and reds. Towards the end of the meal, the owner sent us his best complements with a mixed array of sweets- baklava and Turkish delight along with some Turkish coffee.

There are options for hookah here as well, in case you want to try.
The dips are priced from $12-$20. The starters go in the same range, unless you order prawns or seafood. The mains are $22-$30.

All in all, I loved this place- the food, the open air seating with the fire and the wine. Given the amount we had, we incurred a bill of about $150 for three people which I find reasonable. Would I visit again- Most definitely yes. Would I recommend- Highly.
Zenobia Restaurant
13/9 George Street
North Strathfield, NSW 2137

Phone: 02 9746 8424

Zenobia on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Lal Qila, Pakistani, Surry Hills, Sydney

All right.
This one is about Lal Quila. A Pakistani joint in Surry Hills. One of my colleagues mentioned it was pretty good with the Biryani’s.  After a long tired day, and when I didn’t want to cook on an evening just after the Sydney rains, this was the place. We got down at Central and walked down the busy Crown Street until we reached Cleveland Street. Took a right and walked past the Coles to arrive at Lal Quila. The décor was a bit cozy, with dim red lights. Stereotyped Indian restaurant ambience. We got a seat next to the windows. The menu is quite extensive and to be honest, interesting with a genuine variety. You go to a number of Indian Restaurants and it’s the same food items with different names dished out. Over here, it was definitely with more dishes and with a variety and my gut feel was- definitely Pakistani.

We started off with a Tandoori Chicken variant called as the Murgh-e-musallam. This came on a sizzler plate. The taste was pretty good. Well marinated and well spiced.  Just a day before we had ordered Tandoori at another Indian restaurant, which probably had more quantity. However, I believe the taste was pretty decent here and what I loved was the fact that spices were well marinated.  All in all, it does get the thumbs up from me.
Next we ordered the goat Biryani for mains. The menu had predominant options into beef and lamb. We asked the beautiful waitress if they had any curry with goat. She indicated there was the Karahi Goat was dish which was not on the menu and can be done. We ordered one karahi goat, but she indicated it might be too much and hence made it as a half karahi goat.

The food eventually came, and we were quite hungry. The quantity of Biryani was a mammoth. I was like I don’t the two of us can finish this. Now let’s go to the food. The biryani was great. Simply great. If you recall from my prior posts on Biryani’s and the different variants. This biryani was the Pakistani/ Mughal variant. Yellow and white rice, light fluffy basmati rice (not sticky). The spices were great- not too harsh or spicy but subtle, the fragrance was intoxicating. Long grained basmati rice which was fluffy and tasty. Loved it. The quantity was huge. Trust me, if you are coming here by yourself, you may not order the one whole serving, unless you are prepared to do a takeaway. In fact for the two of is boys, we still had to do a  takeaway.

The karahi goat was good as well. Well spiced, thick gravy, like a korma and succulent goat pieces, topped with strands of ginger and green chillies. Well spiced and optimally oiled. I usually don’t have a curry with a biryani, but in this case, it went well. Besides, I personally prefer to have biryani’s which are moderately spiced and tender meat. I usually don’t like to have any curries or salan with the biryani, however, for some odd reason, the biryani at Lal Quila while tasty and fragrant, it did tempt me and my craving for something curry like. Somehow I thought the biryani was too dry.

For sweets, we ordered the gulab jamun, and I just loved it. Out of the world and freshly made. There is nothing a greater privilege to get fresh hot piping gulab jamun, specially after you finish your email and this just hit the spot.

Another thing, this is not a licensed restaurant. However, BYO is permitted for wine only.
All in all great food. Very cheap and large quantity. Good taste, and spices used. I did love coming here.
Would I come here again?  Yes, most definitely.
Lal Quila, 351-353 Clevelan Street, Surry Hills 2010
Ph: 93191988

Lal Qila Pakistani & Indian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Bench, Newtown

All right. This one is about Bench wine Bar situated at Newtown. Well it all started with a Friday evening. One of my close mate and myself finished work and walked into Newtown. Agenda was to find a good place to sit and relax, have a quiet little drink and then maybe some good food in one of the eateries. Being the winter, a regular pub was not on our agenda.  Walking towards on the king street, we walked all the way towards St Peters station. I do remember a nice a place that I had passed a number of time, which was close to Corelli’s Café, but unfortunately I couldn’t see it. Another place where we went but it was a bit too dark and dodgy. As we walked back from St Peters, we came across Bench, which seemed to be a nice place.

As we entered, I think the ambience did win our hearts and we settled for the table with the couch.

 The décor is great. A bit dark with multi coloured lights in the corners, which gives it a very chic and modern feeling. On the left corner are the instruments placed, suggesting live music. A large wall hand painitjng on the right side, bar stools and stools overlooking the window on the road outside. Very modern, casual and yet comfortable and elegant. As the name suggests, it is a wine bar. In terms of wine, they have a very long wine list with wine from France, Spain, Argentina, New Zealand and our own Australia.

The food menu is interesting. They have small eats and bigger eats- all wine suggestions. We started with the Chicken Nacho’s which were great. Quite delicious, topped with salsa, chicken and cheese. We tried a NZ red and it was perfect. Some great conversation and a comfortable place.
The food item which I tried next and which I swear by is the Buffalo Wings. Out of the world. Spicy, and delicious- I just cant get over the craving. Ever since my first visit, I have visited this place almost 4 times in the last one month and the chicken wings are to die for. An absolute must have to order.

All in all, a great place to sit, have a few drinks with some nibbles. Lovely ambience, and very relazxing and soothing. They have Jazz and Live singers on Sunday evenings, which adds it up.

Wednesday to Saturday from 5pm
Sunday from 4pm
 PH 95577428

503-511 King Street, Newtown

Bench Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Maya Da Dhabha

 Maya Da Dhabha

All right, this one is about Maya da Dhabha at Surry Hills. The context- last weekend in Sydney for my mom and brother and its mothers day as well. We head out from Strathfield at 2 in the afternoon. The lunch buffet at Nilgiri’s is an option, but we want to do something in the city. Zaaffran kitchen closes at 2:30, so that’s ruled out. And suddenly we remember that Maya Da Dhabha had beb on my to do list for quite some time. So we decided to go for it and give it a try.
Now, may years back when I had come to Sydney for the first time and always craved for Indian food, I did go to these restaurants a few times, but somehow I stopped going there. A few reasons included the long walk from Central station and the fact that I found better restaurants at other places. After so many yars I was back in Surry Hills. The good part of Maya Da Dhabha was that the kitchen was open all time. We took a cab from Central Station and arrived here. Settled for a table at the entrance next to the big window, watching the cars and traffic go by. It was a bright sunny day.
The order- simple- Tandoori Chicken and Amritsari Fish. The main course, Goat Curry and Karahi Chicken along with a bread basket. Now the interiors were about ok. Like Surry Hill, one of the old houses, converted into a restaurant. Stereotyped interiors, music and feel. The table was a bit sticky and we requested for it to be cleaned, but the waiter assured and disappeared. We had to remind again. Very soon the appetizers appeared. The tandoori chicken half, was quite a surprise to be honest. I thought being in Australia, the size of the chicken would be descent but it was quite small. The chicken looked extremely tempting and tasty. Perfectly grilled, and with red color, it reminded me of the tandorri Chickens from India. But a few bites and it was just about ok. The chicken was a bit too small pieces to be honest. Texture wise cooked ok and looked really good but taste wise, just missing the punch and a bit bland. I wished the color and spices went hand in hand. I found the salt very less and not spicy at all. So in my opinion- just OK, not that great.

Next came the Amritsari Fish. I enquired which they used at the time of ordering and it was ling Fish, something we like as well.So this preparation was deep fried fish in a chickpea batter. Now the fish when presented looked golden and crispy. Taste wise, initial bite and it was god. Not out of the world but nonetheless good. By this time I realized, I gotta to make it tasty. So I requested the waiter to get chaat masala and lemon. Once I sprinkled a generous amount of chaat masala and lemon,it was perfect. Loved it.

Lets come to the main course. We got the Karahi Chicken and the Goat Curry. After finishing the starters, we were a bit full and wondered if we had over ordered. But the serving size of the dishes was quite mall to be honest. The karahi chicken was again ok. The curry was a bit weak and resembled the curry I make at times at home. Well I do think I am a good cook, but at times I have my bad days. This curry texture was similar. The water of the curry, kind of separate from the main curry components. Being Kadhai Chicken, there were diced onions and capsicums, but I think the dish, while edible, but missed the mark. Again, just about ok and not too wow.
The goat curry was good with a darker and more spicier curry. Liked the curry. Good taste. The quality of goat meat was varying.  Some pieces were soft and tender meat while a few pieces were extremely chewy and tough. So the dish was again ok. I liked the gravy but wished the quality of meat was uniform.

The bread basket had an assortment of breads. The garlic naan, butter naan, cheese naan, Kashmiri naan. Again the breads were just ok. While fresh, I have had better bread elsewhere.

The service was ok, although I wish they frequently visited the table.
The biggest blunder was when we cam home. We had requested for a take away of the chicken and mutton curry and the breads. I expected them to be separately done. When we came home, they were in one box along with rice. Now we hadn’t ordered rice at all and I was just wondering whose rice was this. We threw away the food with doubts on the rice.
All in all, an average experience. I would probably not go there specially to be honest. If you are looking for a good Indian food experience, Id rather suggest Zaaffraan, or any other joint.

431 Cleveland Street, Surry Hills

Maya Da Dhaba on Urbanspoon