The Woods Pantry – Villawood

Sydney

Where: The Woods Pantry, 5a/824-850 Woodville Rd, Villawood NSW 2163

When: July 2020

Meal: Lunch

Cost: Approximately $80 for a two course lunch for two

The Woods Pantry is located at Villawood which as per many of my recent reviews, is not all that close to where I live and usually dine. It was however conveniently located equidistant for my friend and I from home, so it was the perfect place to meet for lunch.

The menu is so full of interesting sounding dishes that I really struggled to pick just one! Fortunately my friend was equally as excited about the menu and agreed to a two course lunch and we shared all dishes.

We started with the Southern Fried Chicken Burger ($17.50) which was marinated chicken breast with house made slaw on a soft milk bun with chips. This was my absolute favourite of the day as the chicken coating had a little bit of spice to it which was a nice kick. The chips were also perfectly crunchy and delicious.

The Pumpkin Salad ($14.50) had spinach, cherry tomatoes, roasted pumpkin seeds and goats cheese in it, but we added halloumi too (+$4.50) as one can never really have too much cheese right!? The salad was fresh and healthy, but I generally prefer my pumpkin really roasted and charred for a deeper flavour and more luxurious texture and the salad needed more dressing overall.

Continuing on the cheese theme, our first dessert was the Knafeh French Toast ($18.50) which was cheese filled brioche with crushed pistachio, rose syrup and strawberries. It had the softest fluffiest cheese inside, which I’m told is a mix of four cheeses, but what they are is top secret!

Finally we tried the Biscoff Churros special ($18) and I loved how pillowy soft the churros were inside a crispy shell. It was a very indulgent end to the meal to dip churros into biscoff!

The Woods Pantry is a nice big dining space with indoor and outdoors tables and a cool vibe with the decor. We dined outside and took our time to enjoy our food as it was a particularly nice sunny winter day. Note, we dined on a weekday and I have no doubt this place is packed on the weekend!

Would I go back? Yes, it’s out of the way for me, BUT there were many other things I wanted on the menu including the Moroccan Lamb Sandwich, the Baked Eggs and the other French Toast which is filled with cream cheese and topped with lemon curd.

Would I recommend it to you? Yes, their menu is huge with all day breakfast and separate lunch menu which includes salads, burgers and pasta.

Show me the food…

My Zomato Rating: 5/5

Goodfields Eatery – Lindfield

Sydney

Where: Goodfields Eatery, Shop 4/5 37 Lindfield Ave, Lindfield NSW 2070

When: June 2020

Meal: Lunch

Cost: Approximately $40 for one from the truffle menu, with wine

Like most people, when we were all thrown into Covid-19 isolation I was quite concerned about all the major life events we’d miss out on. You know, birthdays, weddings, truffle season. But thankfully we’ve we were let loose in perfect timing for the most glorious time of the year! 

I ventured to Goodfields Eatery to get my very first truffle fix of the 2020 season. The entire menu looks great, but I love truffle with cheese so I picked the triple cheese and ham Jaffle ($29.50) made with croissant loaf, served on truffle cheese sauce, topped with fresh truffle. The cheeses were provolone, truffle pecorino and mozzarella and the truffles were grown in Canberra. 

It was an amazing cheese toastie, but despite the appearance of lots of truffle, I found the truffle flavour a bit weak. I noticed I wasn’t smacked in the face with lots of truffle aroma as the plate arrived at the table and trying the shredded fresh truffle by itself sadly revealed very little flavour. Most of the truffle flavour came from the cheese sauce. Overall I enjoyed the dish as it was a great cheese toastie, but it needed a stronger truffle flavour for me. Truffles need to be well stored and being a natural product will of course have quality variation and perhaps some are just duds. I accept this and it wouldn’t put me off Goodfields.

I also thought a nice glass of Shiraz ($11) would go perfectly with the richness of the cheese and truffle, but it felt a little unnecessary for a weekday lunch with the dish lacking the rich truffle flavour.

It is a lovely bright, green and airy cafe and the team were all super friendly. I also picked up some tips of other truffle menus in Sydney from my waiter who was a keen foodie himself.

Would I go back? Yes, there are plenty of other things on their Truffle menu that I’d like to try before the season ends, such as the Cheesy Lobster Fries and the Ice Cream Brownie Sandwich.

Would I recommend it to you? Definitely. It’s a cool cafe that comes highly recommended for their regular menu as well.

Show me the food…

My Zomato Rating: 4/5

The Burrow Cherrybrook

The Burrow – Cherrybrook

Sydney

Where: The Burrow, 132 Shepherds Dr, Cherrybrook NSW 2126

When: June 2020

Meal: Lunch

Cost: Approx. $65 for two with wine

I first heard about The Burrow when they launched their amazing looking Caramilk pancakes. I unfortunately didn’t make it out to try those, but all their food looked so good that I thought it would be worth a 40 minute drive out to Cherrybrook….and it was!

Two things I lurrrrvvvve in winter is slow cooked lamb and roasted pumpkin. I thought now the cooler weather is here that my salad bowl days were gone, but the Moroccan Lamb Bowl ($25.90) was the perfect winter bowl. The 12 hour braised lamb was perfectly tender, the pumpkin was full of flavour and I really liked the contrasting textures with the crispy chickpeas and pops of pomegranate offsetting the spinach and couscous. Paired with a glass of Malbec ($9.50), it was a very indulgent mid-week lunch.

My friend had the Fish and Chips ($19.90) and he said the fish was really crispy and tasted great. He also enjoyed a glass of Chardonnay ($9.50) with his meal.

 The cafe is in a little strip mall which I wasn’t really expecting, but once you get inside it’s quite a nice environment. Service was friendly and I felt that they were particularly diligent about their Covid-Safe practices which was reassuring.

Would I go back? Yes, it’s very out of the way for me, but I really liked the flavours in my food and I often see them advertising interesting specials on Instagram that could see me jump in the car instantly!

Would I recommend it to you? Yes, lots of variety on the menu and quality food. Slightly higher priced, but worth it in my opinion.

Show me the food…

My Zomato Rating: 5/5

Two Hungry Bears Logo

Two Hungry Bears – Narrabeen

Sydney

Where: Two Hungry Bears, 1303 Pittwater Rd, Narrabeen NSW 2101

When: June 2020

Meal: Lunch

Cost: Approximately $45 for two meals

Post coronavirus quarantine it been a long time between good burgers for me, but I had a very positive feeling that Two Hungry Bears would be worth the drive to Narrabeen for that elusive dirty, juicy, cheesy burg. Their Mac Daddy burger ($18) lured me in and it really hit the mark.

The Angus Beef patty was pink, juicy, slightly charred and full of flavour. The crispy bacon was just the right level of crispy where it’s not just flavourless dust. The mac n’ cheese tasted like cheese (unlike many) and combined with the American cheese slice, this burger was all sorts of oozy cheesy goodness. Finally the raw finely shredded onion and special sauce rounded it all out to be a monster of a full flavour burger. Often I find burgers over priced, but this was huge and delicious and worth every cent of $18. 

I made it a combo with fries and a can for +$7.50. The fries were amazing. Super crunchy and seasoned and it made it hard for me to get the burger in as I could not stop filling up on the fries!

Often at burger places I am torn between the beef or fried chicken options. I love a classic beef and cheese burger combo…..but I also really, really love fried chicken. So despite the enormous size of the burger, I added a serve of their Nashville Hot Fried Chicken Tenders ($11) too.

It arrived at the table coated with a heap of fiery red, angry looking seasoning that I was worried would have me sniffling and coughing like I had a sudden corona attack. It actually wasn’t that hot, it’s what I’d call pleasantly spicy. The breast chicken was succulent and I loved the flavour of the super crispy coating. It was right on the cusp of almost being a little too oily, but hey, if you’re that concerned about grease you’re probably not ordering fried chicken right! Just like the burger, I thought these were a really generous size for $11. I was glad I took my leftovers home for a second indulgence later.

My only disappointment about this place was that the restaurant has zero ambience. It’s located on a busy road and has a takeaway shop vibe. It’s by no meals a destination burger joint, but being close to the beach you could always grab and go and eat somewhere more scenic.

Would I go back? I loved the food, but I’m not sure I’d make the effort to drive there again. It was an hour drive and I HATE the traffic up to the Northern Beaches and back. If I was in the area I would definitely stop by though.

Would I recommend it to you? I’m a little torn on this one. The food is great, BUT with a lack of ambience I’d probably not recommend this as a must go. Best for those that live on the North Shore, or feel like a big (annoying haha) drive.

Show me the food…

My Zomato Rating: n/a as they do not have a page on Zomato

The Cove Dining Co – Abbotsford

Sydney

Where: The Cove Dining Co, 378 Great North Rd, Abbotsford NSW 2046

When: June 2020

Meal: Lunch

Cost: Approx $30 for one

Corn fritters are one of my favourite brunch items, but I’m often disappointed by limp, lifeless fritters. It’s a crime against brunch to even call them fritters if there is no crispiness! I’ve just discovered the Corn & Mint Fritters ($20) at the Cove, which is a dangerously short stroll from my place.

The fritters are crispy and full of flavour. The bacon, avocado, beetroot hummus and poached egg (+$4) combination is spot on and it was presented nicely. It was a big serve, which is good as at $24 it was a bit up there for a brunch dish.

I enjoyed a latte ($3.70) with my meal which was perfect. I then ordered a second one after my meal whilst chatting with my friend and it was way too hot and clearly burnt. You win some, you lose some hey!

The cafe is in a beautiful building that once inside you wouldn’t expect is on a reasonably busy roundabout intersection. Inside there is an eclectic mix of tables, or you can sit out on the back deck overlooking the garden.

Service was prompt and friendly. It’s a great local cafe.

Would I go back? Yes, this is actually my local but I’ve rarely been in the many years it has been there. I’m usually too busy heading into the city to eat, but maybe not anymore!

Would I recommend it to you? Yes, if it’s not too out of your way.

Show me the food…

My Zomato Rating: 4/5

Down n' Out Sydney Meal

Down n’ Out – Sydney CBD

Sydney

Where: Down n’ Out, 77/A Liverpool St, Sydney NSW 2000

When: May 2020

Meal: Lunch

Cost: $22 for one, no drinks

During Covid-19 lockdown I was craving a big, juicy, dirty burger. Sure, you can get burgers takeaway or delivered, but I find they’re a food that doesn’t travel well and need to be eaten promptly to avoid a soggy mess. So when restrictions were eased to allow up to 10 people to dine in at restaurants on May 15th, I was keen to scratch the dine in burger itch.

However, it turns out lots of other people were having the same yearning, as the Down n’ Out restaurant was already full with people waiting when I arrived. Reluctantly, especially since it was raining outside, I ordered takeaway and stood aside to wait for my meal trying to avoid the stream of people that continued to arrive minute by minute.

I ordered the Single Beef Burger ($12) which had a wagyu beef patty, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, raw onion, pickles and secret sauce. I also added bacon ($3). This was a classic American style burger with a slightly pink patty, which I would have preferred pinker, but it was juicy and tasty still. The secret sauce was nice, but non-distinct. I enjoyed the burger, but there was nothing stand out about it and it’s not a burger I’d rush back to have again.

Whenever I see onion rings on a menu I need to order them, it’s my side of choice! Down n’ Out’s version are Angry Onion Rings ($7) and they are like nothing I’ve ever had before. Nor want to again unfortunately. They had a real onion ring inside (which is a big tick as I’ve found some places strangely give you minced onion and batter formed into a ring shape), but it was coated in about 2cm of batter/dough that was dense and tasteless. It reminded of a deep fried onion doughnut more than an onion ring. The red seasoning it had been topped with, which I assume is where the ‘Angry’ is meant to come in, was also fairly bland not the punchy chilli flavour I expected. I ate one onion ring and threw the rest out.

Before my visit to Down n’ Out, I had read a few reviews that referenced the entry way looked a bit dodgy and you have to go up a set of ‘sketchy looking stairs’. I was glad to have read this as otherwise I may not have ventured inside alone, but inside it was fine and just a traditional grungy looking bar with old school pinball machines and video games.

Would I go back? Maybe, but it would have to be a stellar looking burger special (which they do a lot of) to lure me back in. The standard menu won’t cut it for a repeat visit.

Would I recommend it to you? No, it’s not a must do burger joint in my mind. If you’re in the city looking for a burger, I’d suggest Bar Luca on Phillip St instead and definitely get the Blame Canada burger!

Show me the food…

My Zomato Rating: 3/5

Alder Inn Wentworth Point

Alder Inn – Wentworth Point

Sydney

Where: Alder Inn, Shop 6/9 Waterways St, Wentworth Point NSW 2127

When: March 2020

Meal: Lunch

Cost: Approx $50 each, including cocktails

I love trying lots of different dishes when I eat out, so dining with someone that is happy to share is great, but it’s even better when a menu has small dishes that are designed for sharing. Alder Inn’s Asian Fusion menu has Bites, Bao, Salads, Mains, Rice and Desserts with a wide variety of flavours.

My favourite dish of the meal was the American Style Fried Chicken Bao ($7) which was super crispy, with good flavour in the batter and came doused in maple sriracha mayo. We also tried the Sweet & Sour Pulled Pork Bao ($7) which was nice to eat, but didn’t have any particularly strong flavours, despite coming with a wasabi lime mayo. The bao buns were light and fluffy and thankfully didn’t have the sticky texture that I’ve often encountered with bao.

We also tried the Popcorn Prawns ($12) which had a tasty crispy crumb topped with a honey glaze & sesame seeds. I liked that they were served on a little lettuce and red onion salad that cut the sweetness of the honey on the prawns.

The main dish we tried was the Wok Fried Wagyu Beef ($22) which came with tender beef cubes, capsicums, fried shallots, sesame seeds and an amazing black pepper sauce that was quite addictive. The sauce helped to jazz up the Spicy Chicken Fried Rice ($11) which we couldn’t detect any spice in at all. We also ordered the Fries ($5) which came with a spicy Szechwan Pepper Mayo, but we struggled to eat many chips as we already had so much food between two people!

Dessert was the Deep Fried Vanilla Ice Cream ($14). The coating was crispy and tasty and it was covered in salted caramel sauce with butterscotch popcorn. After a big meal it was nice to share this and it would likely be too big a serve for one person anyway.

For drinks we tried the Mojito ($12) with vodka, mint, lavender & lemon. The mint was really refreshing, however we struggled to detect the fresh lavender, but that may be a blessing that it wasn’t overpowering with having such a strong scent. The Tequila Rocks ($15) was tequila and strawberry juice on ice and was definitely sweet, but not too intense.

All dishes were generously sized and incredibly good value to share. Service was really friendly and quick and the restaurant was nicely decorated, just a little hard to find as the doorway is slightly hidden from the road.

Would I go back? Yes, I loved the food and thought it was really well priced for the amount of food we received. Alder Inn is a recent rebrand moving from traditional Chinese food to Asian Fusion, so I’d be keen to see how the menu develops.

Would I recommend it to you? Yes, you can’t beat the value and variety on the menu.

Show me the food…

Zomato Review: 4/5

Archies Cafe Co Dover Heights Coffee

Archies Cafe Co – Dover Heights

Sydney

Where: Archies Cafe Co, 218 Military Rd, Dover Heights NSW 2030

When: February 2020

Meal: Lunch

Cost: Approx $35 for one

One night I was scrolling Instagram and came across a thing of absolute beauty. No, it wasn’t an ‘lifestyle influencer’ with super white teeth, it was a sky high burger with potato gems in it AND a cute little potato gem on top!

I love burgs and I really love potato gems, so I was mad keen to try it, however when I got there I could not see that glorious burger on the menu. There was a Wagyu Beef Burger and a Hangover Burger which was a bacon and egg roll style burger, but not the combination that I was looking for. I showed the Instagram post to the waitress and she said there must have been a mix up on Instagram with their other cafe in Liverpool, but not to worry as they can make me what my heart desired.

So we decided on starting with the Hangover Burger ($13) which had fried Egg, black forest smokehouse bacon, American cheddar, potato gems, smokey bbq sauce & aioli on a milk bun and added a wagyu beef patty and pickles. The burger was huge and really lived up to my expectations with a juicy thick patty, but it was a little difficult to eat and I made a total mess of myself with the soft yolk of the fried egg. No regrets though! I think it ended up costing about $20 in the end, which is what the Wagyu Burger with Chips is priced at.

I also added a side of Crispy Potato Gems ($3), because one can never have enough gems. The gems were possibly the best gems I’ve ever had! They were so crunchy and it looked like they may have had a little Mexican seasoning on them, but when I asked what it was the kitchen said it was ‘the classic Australian seasoning, Chicken Salt’.

Despite my massive meal, I couldn’t read Nutella Smoothie ($8) on the menu and not order it, that’s just not possible! The smoothie came with lots of Nutella to scrape down the side of the glass and I ended up eating the last of it from the bottom of the glass with a spoon.

Coffee was good ($4 reg) and the cafe is really beautiful inside and out, with a view down the hill of the Harbour Bridge.  The team were all friendly and I appreciated that they were so accomodating to deliver the meal that I was after, especially after I’d driven 30 minutes across town for it!

Would I go back? Yes, they have a massive all day menu that had lots of things I’d love for brunch. Plus I really enjoyed my visit and it got a rare 5/5 rating from me in my Zomato & Google reviews, which on my scale, definitely requires a yes to that question.

Would I recommend it to you? Yes, please go and order the potato gems. Even if you don’t think potato gems are that special, or you haven’t had them since you were a kid, they are worth it. Trust me.

Show me the food…

Corbette & Claude Rhodes

Corbett & Claude – Rhodes

Sydney

Where: Corbett & Claude, 83/1 Rider Blvd, Rhodes NSW 2138

When: February 2020

Meal: Lunch

Cost: $10 each due to $10 lunch special

Oh how I love a good deal on dining out, but I can be quite cynical that a cheap meal will actually be good. With that in mind, I approached Corbette & Claude’s new $10 lunch deals (Mon-Thur) with some trepidation, but my concerns disappeared as soon as the dishes landed on the table.

Of the three options, the Goddess Salad ($10) was my absolute favourite! It had the creamiest Persian feta with lots of dried cranberries and crunchy pepitas on top of mixed greens and quinoa with a tangy lemon, lime and olive oil dressing. It was fresh and delicious, the perfect healthy lunch option.

The Mushroom Linguine ($10) came packed with plenty of mushrooms, which if they are your thing (yes please), you’ll love it. I was expecting a rich and creamy mushroom sauce but the sauce was fairly light and initially a little bland. However after mentioning this to the waiter, he brought over the salt & pepper grinders and with a little seasoning the flavours lifted and I really enjoyed the dish.

The Margherita Pizza ($10) is an old school classic that also feels sort of healthy for pizza. Maybe I’m fooling myself, but I’m happy to live my life with that lie. It’s huge for a $10 pizza and had an amazingly light and crisp crust. I was told the dough is imported from Italy as they have not been able to perfect the recipe locally and it is authentically hand stretched.

The normal price for these dishes is around $16-$17, so our lunch was extremely good value for good quality food.

Service was fast with the pizza coming out of the wood fired oven within 10 minutes after ordering. There was seating inside the restaurant which was away from the hustle and bustle of Rhodes Waterside Shopping Centre, but they also had overflow seating outside which is made easier with the addition of Me&u app ordering.

Would I go back? Yes, there were a number of things that caught my eye on the menu such as the Mozzarella Sticks, the spicy Fireman pizza and the rolled cigar pizzas which seems similar to a calzone.

Would I recommend it to you? Yes, the food was good quality and they have a big menu of starters, pizzas, pastas and salads that I think would appeal to all. Oh and the dessert and cocktail menu also looks pretty enticing!

Show me the food…

Georgies Paper Mill Liverpool

The Paper Mill – Liverpool

Sydney

Where: The Paper Mill, 20 Shepherd St, Liverpool NSW 2170

When: February 2020

Meal: Lunch

Cost: Approx $40 each with a glass of wine

I was quite excited about visiting the Paper Mill in Liverpool as the décor looked amazing on Instagram and it looked like a beautiful place for a meal. I also thought it seemed like an interesting concept to have various cuisines available in the one place with the Fire Pit restaurant serving flame grilled meats, Georgie’s Pizzeria & Bar serving pizza of course, Charcoal Joe’s with Lebanese charcoal chicken and the cafe Shepherd’s Lane. It’s quite rare that I’m disappointed with a dining experience these days as I do so much research on the places I decide to visit, but on this occasion the food and service didn’t seem to match the beautiful environment and I was left disappointed.

I decided on ordering from Georgie’s Pizzeria & Bar for the Espanol Pizza ($24) with a glass of Italian Pinot Noir ($9). The pizza was a generous size and looked good when it arrived, however upon trying to lift a slice from the plate I realised the base was super soggy, but the crust was really hard. I had to eat the pizza with a knife and fork and although the flavour combination of the Espanol with tomato, for di latte, chorizo, roast capsicum, avocado, lime and coriander was good, the pizza overall was very disappointing. I’ve also just noticed that my pizza was missing the jalapeños mentioned on the menu! The wine was also very bland, so I was 0 for 2 by this stage.

I finished my meal at the Paper Mill with gelato from the Shepherd’s Lane cafe. After trying a few flavours, I settled on a scoop of Peanut Brittle and a scoop of Caramel ($6.50). It was an enormous serve for the price, but impossible to finish so it was a bit of a waste really. The gelato was really creamy, but the flavours were quite mild.

The other frustrating part of the dining experience was that there were a lot of flies hanging around the tables. Sure, the space has a grand open doorway so flies are bound to get in, but despite it being a weekday and very quiet with staff just standing around, our dirty lunch plates remained where we had moved them over to the table next to us for an hour for the flies to enjoy, which was very off putting.

Would I go back? No, the only thing I liked about my visit was the décor.

Would I recommend it to you? No, perhaps I visited on a bad day for them, but I can only base my review on my experience on the day, which was terrible.

Show me the food…