Kelbys Cafe Marrickville

Kelby’s Cafe – Marrickville

Sydney

Where: Kelby’s Cafe, 293 Marrickville Rd, Marrickville NSW 2204

When: March 2020

Meal: Brunch

Cost: Approx $40 each, but we ordered three dishes between two

Although we are in the midst of Coronavirus chaos at the moment, as someone who is well and not high risk, I am still venturing out occasionally and being cautious and sensible about my activities. So many businesses are suffering at this time, but hospitality workers cannot work from home of course and it’s a scary prospect that many of these businesses may not survive to see the world recover from this.

But in the meantime, let’s focus on some good, which was this delicious meal at Kelby’s. Sharing (carefully and cleanly) brunch with a friend, we ordered up big with three meals between two. We started with the Eggocado which is on the specials board, but I suspect based on it’s popularity on Instagram it has actually been around for a while and will likely stick around too. Eggocado ($18.90) is an egg baked in half an avocado, with crispy bacon, crumbled feta and tomato salsa, served on two pieces of sourdough. We loved popping the soft egg yolk and were impressed with the plentiful serve of feta.

Next we had the Klassic Beef Burger ($13.90) which is a homemade premium beef patty, with cheddar cheese, fresh tomato, caramelised onion, lettuce and aioli on a milk brioche bun. We decided to upgrade it to Hawaiian style (+$3) with the addition of bacon, egg and pineapple and added a side of hand cut chips (+$3). The burger was epic, seriously huge!! You can’t even see the patty in the pics due to the egg and lashings of aioli dribbling down the side, but to me this sauce ratio was perfect! The beef patty was seasoned with some herbs that I couldn’t quite work out what they were, but they were noticeable so may not appeal to all.

Our sweet dish was the Warm French Toast ($16.90) and we chose the Berry Compote option rather than the bacon and caramelised banana. This dish was stunning when it arrived and I really enjoyed it being a spin on the traditional French toast style by using Turkish bread fingers stacked Jenga style. There was plenty of maple syrup and the toast being served in fingers meant there was plenty of surface area to soak up all that syrup.

I also ordered the Coffee Frappe ($7.50) which was double espresso blended with milk, crushed ice and your choice of vanilla, caramel or hazelnut syrup. I picked vanilla and was glad it was subtly sweet. My friend had the Berry Bliss Frappe ($7.50) with fresh apple juice and mixed berries blended with crushed ice. In the current circumstances I was unable to steal a sip, but she assured me it was really good! Both drinks were big serves and great value for the price.

We also had a regular latte ($4) and hot chocolate ($4). I liked the coffee and would stop in for one again if I was in the area.

Would I go back? Yes, I loved everything about my visit to Kelby’s Marrickville!

Would I recommend it to you? Absolutely, the menu is huge and all the meals I saw coming out of the kitchen looked beautiful and like the were tasty flavour combinations.

Show me the food…

My Zomato Rating: 5/5

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…

Paddock on Crown Surry Hills

Paddock on Crown – Surry Hills

Sydney

Where: Paddock on Crown, 509 Crown St, Surry Hills NSW 2010

When: February 2020

Meal: Brunch

Cost: Approx $30 each

I don’t usually spend that much time looking at omelettes on a brunch menu. I always think they sound a bit boring and like something I could easily whip up at home (if I was actually that way inclined). But when I read what was in the Paddock on Crown one, I was sold!

The Paddock Omelette ($18.50) had chorizo, mozzarella, sweet corn, potato, kale and tomato and I added gluten-free bread ($1). I’m curious if normal bread actually came with the dish anyway since adding GF bread was only an extra $1, but it wasn’t mentioned on the menu. The omelette flavours worked so well together that I had no regrets that I went with an old school option.

I also tried the Fluffy Pancakes ($18.50) with Ube Ice Cream ($4). The pancake was really tall, light and fluffy and delicious drenched in maple syrup, topped with vanilla mascarpone and whipped maple butter. It would have been nice to have a little more pancake, but it was an extra $4 to add a second pancake to a dish that already cost $22.50, which seemed excessive and would probably have been too much. Two pancakes about 75% the size of the one we got would have been the perfect size and still looked impressive as a double stack. I’ve had Ube ice cream before and found it to be pretty bland, but this one was sweet and tasted like vanilla. Hopefully it wasn’t just vanilla ice cream coloured purple…

Coffee ($3.7 reg) was good and the Red Dragon Frappe ($8.50) was delicious and not overly sweet with red dragon fruit, pineapple, mango and apple juice.

The place was busy at 11am on a Sunday, but the team got the meals out quickly despite advising us that there may be delays due to one of the kitchen staff having to go to hospital after a ‘knifing incident’. I didn’t get to the bottom of that story, but I’m pretty sure it was a kitchen accident, not a mugging…I hope!

Would I go back? Yes, the cafe has a nice vibe, they present meals beautifully and there were other things on the menu I’d be keen to try.

Would I recommend it to you? Yes, it’s one of those cool places on Crown St, but it’s not pretentious and the food is worth any queuing you may have to do for a table.

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…

Four Little Foxes Cafe

Four Little Foxes – Milperra

Sydney

Where: Four Little Foxes, 8/48 Amiens Ave, Milperra NSW 2214

When: February 2020

Meal: Brunch

Cost: Approx $50 for two

I love doing both a sweet and savoury option for brunch and sharing with my dining companion. On this occasion the savoury option won hands down for me!

The Smooth Pavo ($16.50) was a different take on a smashed avo with smooth avo and pea on top of wholemeal sourdough, topped with a rocket, quinoa and watercress salad, roasted tomatoes and feta cheese. It was served with  a generous smudge of an amazing roasted cauliflower hummus that was so good I would have liked to take some home. We added a poached egg ($3) too and found this dish had plenty of flavour and was a plentiful serve which was perfect for sharing (although sharing the yolk of a poached egg is quite a challenge).

The pancakes flavour that is on the menu changes regularly at Four Little Foxes and on our visit it was the Berry Yummy Hotcakes ($18.50). This was a stack of three pancakes topped with berry compote, berry cream mousse, house made meringues, fresh berries, Persian fairy floss and the menu said crushed pistachios, but they seemed to be missing from our dish. The dish was beautifully presented, but we found the pancakes were thick and quite dense and they were probably slightly undercooked but definitely edible. We also found that by the time we tried the pancakes after eating the Smooth Pavo, that the fairy floss had melted into the berry sauce and made it intensely sweet. That was our own fault though!

We ordered lattes ($4 reg) and found the coffee was quite strong, but not bitter.

Service was warm and friendly and the cafe had a nice buzz for a weekday morning.

Would I go back? Although I really enjoyed the Smooth Pavo, the hotcakes were just ok to me, so I wouldn’t be rushing back.

Would I recommend it to you? I definitely think if you’re local to Milperra you should go try the Smashed Pavo.

Show me the food…

Toco Fresh Concord

Toco Fresh – Concord

Sydney

Where: Toco Fresh, 85 Majors Bay Rd, Concord NSW 2137

When: November 2019

Meal: Brunch

Cost: Approx $40 each, but we ordered an extra dish between two.

We visited Toco for brunch and although there are a heap of healthy options on the menu, we couldn’t go past the fried chicken choices. Firstly, the Dirty Bird ($18) which was buttermilk fried chicken served on top of warm waffles and doused in maple syrup. We also ordered the Suki Suki burger ($16) with crispy Japanese style chicken, double cheese, mixed pickles and aioli mayo on a charcoal bun.

Both fried chicken dishes were really well presented, but I would prefer the chicken coating to have heavier seasoning to pack more of a flavour punch.

For our brunch ‘dessert’ course, we ordered the French Toast ($17). This was brioche served with strawberries, whipped cream, mixed berries, cinnamon and honey. This also had quite a mild flavour and I would have liked to taste a stronger element in there.

We added the Refresh Juice ($9.50) with watermelon, pineapple, mint and lime which was fresh, without being overly sweet. The Berry Best Smoothie ($9.5) also had a nice flavour with the inclusion of banana and was satisfyingly thick with chia seeds blended in.

The cafe has a nice bright atmosphere, friendly staff and also had great 90’s music playing on our visit.

Would I go back? No, although it was a pleasant experience, it feels like a one and done for me. I love full flavour foods and these were just a bit too mild for my preference.

Would I recommend it to you? I only tend to recommend places that I would love to go back to as there are more things I’d like to try on the menu, so in this instance no.

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…

Frankies Food Factory Latte

Frankie’s Food Factory – Milperra

Sydney

Where: Frankie’s Food Factory, within Flower Power at 479 Henry Lawson Dr, Milperra NSW 2214

When: February 2020

Meal: Brunch

Cost: $48 for two

I’d heard a lot about Frankie’s at Flower Power, including that it gets super busy on weekends and is always packed, no matter the time of day. I had the opportunity to visit on a Monday for brunch and it was surprisingly busy for a weekday, but easy to get a table and service was fast.

I visited with my Mum who is always up for sharing meals so we can enjoy both a savoury and sweet option. We opted for the Za’atar & Mint Bagel ($19) to start with which had za’atar, hummus, truffle burrata, avocado, sesame seeds & mint on a fresh and soft bagel. The combination was a punchy flavour hit, including the hummus which had full flavour on its own. We also added the poached egg ($3) which is a must in my mind.

For our brunch dessert we had the Butterscotch Banana Pancakes ($18). This was a stack of three thick, fluffy and moist pancakes topped with a thick butterscotch sauce, that actually truly tasted like butterscotch. So often I feel people try and palm off a caramel sauce as being butterscotchy, but no, I’m onto those people. The flavour of the butterscotch worked really well with the bananas, white chocolate drizzle and peanut brittle chunks. My only wish was that there was a smear of the butterscotch sauce in between the pancake layers. That would have made it a 5/5 dish for me!

Coffee was also good, served on a nice board. I enjoyed a small latte ($4).

Would I go back? Yes, I really enjoyed my first visit and I’ve heard their Donut Fries on the dessert menu are definitely worth returning for!

Would I recommend it to you? Absolutely, I’ve already been telling locals I know that they must go. Frankie’s is pet friendly too, so take your pooch…if she/he is well behaved. There are many, many expensive things to knock over in Flower Power!

Show me the food…