Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Cara & Co Restaurant @ Level 4, Westfield Sydney


We all love good food vouchers, so myself and a couple of friends were able to dine at the exquisite Cara & Co Restaurant. Cara & Co Restaurant is located inside the retail store Cara and Co, which is inside Westfield Sydney.

It feels really strange to walk into a retail store, and then into a restaurant. It is also surprising that the store doesn't smell like food. The restaurant décor is chic, yet has a feel of a 70s themed restaurant with the neutral colours of browns, blacks and beige. There were lovely artworks along the walls which made the restaurant quite quirky.

The reason I placed the image of the warm towels is because they first look like little mints, and then when water is place on them they become hand towels. I checked in using Foursquare and someone commented saying that they thought they were pre dining mints, so ate them hahah, a rookie mistake.
Anyways, now to the food. The vouchers allowed us to each choose an entree, main and dessert, but they provided an amuse bouche and a second dessert/post dining experience treat.

Complimentary bread with butter and black salt

Olive bread with capsicum jelly and bonito sauce 

Lovely little cylindrical parcels topped with a lovely flower. There was a strong olive taste which was counteracted by the sauce and capsicum jelly. It was a little teaser to what was on its way.

Four cuts of chicken, hazelnut crust, sherry sauce, 
apple pieces, pate and chicken crackle

I found this to be the best of the entrées. The four cuts of chicken were cooked perfectly and allowed to understand the different textures and tastes of the chicken. Chicken crackle is not as good as pork crackle, but continued to add the crunchy element to the dish. All the components worked extremely well with all the sauces.

Kingfish with beetroot, dill and sourdough crisps

Kingfish is a delicate fish with a subtle taste. When serving king fish, you don't want flavours that will overpower the fish, which is what the chefs did well. The dill was probably the strongest of all taste, but it provided that extra kick.

Veal tartare with watercress, aged cheese, cucumber and oyster pearls

This was not my cup of tea, the veal tartare was great, but the other components just didn't work for me. There was a lot of strong flavours, including the oyster pearls which were a bit too salty for my liking.

Veal fillet with crumb, tomato, asparagus, capers, peas and tuna foam sauce 

Everything on this dish was excellent, the veal was cooked to a medium-rare, and the crumb tasted of cracked popcorn kernels. All the vegetables perfectly accompanied the veal. The down side to this dish was the tuna foam sauce. It had the taste of the ocean, and wasn't pleasant to the palate. A would have preferred a simple potato puree and brown sauce to complement the veal.

Lamb's neck with pisatchio crumb and cauliflower, brocletti, kholrabi and anchovy 

This was my friends main dish, and the dish I wish I ordered. The lamb's neck with crumb was delectable, and all the vegetables worked well. The lamb was full of flavour, and the sauce was different to the tuna foam sauce (which was great!).

Summer berries with coconut pannacotta, coconut and herb ice cream, berry sherbet, fruit tuille and rum sauce

The desserts weren't on the menu, so we went by how they sounded. Originally this dish didn't sound that great, but when it was brought out I was envious of my friend. The dish had SUMMER written all over it. The fresh colours, and summery tastes had your taste buds dancing. Every component had a refreshing taste, and all fresh summer berries were exquisite.

Chilli sorbet with lemon jelly, apple pieces, lemon cream, sugar crunch and crumble

The chilli sorbet was a great pick me up with a punch of chilli right at the end. Crunchy pieces of apple and the crumble against the soft creams and sorbet allowed a texture filled spoonful of goodness. This dish didn't quite call out summer, but it did call out tastes of Autumn.

Madeleines and mini chocolates 

After dessert, we were provided with madeleines and mini chocolates to end the meal. 

Cara & Co Restaurant is a great place to dine, with excellent food and good service. The serving sizes of the dishes are generous and filled with flavour. Each dish is presented delicately, expressing beauty in the dish. It is a perfect place for a birthday lunch or an intimate dinner.

Good food, good times!

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Bentley Restaurant and Bar @ Surry Hills


Thanks to a special someone and a special occassion, I finally had the chance to dine at the famous Bentley Restaurant and Bar. The two hatted restaurant has been winning awards since 2006, and continues to hold excellence for both their food and wine. 

The restaurant has a modern interior, with a specific placement of lighting to have an intimate yet relaxed dining experience.  We didn't try any of the wine, because neither of us are big wine drinkers, but they do have a vast range to pick from. The following food images are from normal tasting menu ($120 per person) and vegetarian ($110 per person). 

Complimentary bread

Malt cured ocean trout with pine nut and trout roe

Tomato and yellow bean salad with pine nut and black olive

The delicately fresh pieces of trout were divine and the little bursts of trout roe made the dish more exciting. The bean salad was presented with such finesse where it looked too pretty to eat and displayed the wonderful colours of Summer. All the fresh ingredients made the dishes beautiful in both taste and presentation.

Seared scallop with purple sweet potato and sea banana

Eggplant with sweet potato and a cooked egg yolk

The eggplant dish was the tastier of the two. The cooked yolk was just irresistible, I am not sure on how they did it. Throughout the entire dining experience we continually reflected upon the egg. Just thinking about it now still makes me wonder on how such an egg is produced. The seared scallop dish was nice, but did needed more scallop. I loved the little pieces of purple sweet potato on the side.

Tuna, pickled mussels, octopus with squid ink quinoa and sea grapes

Baby potato with fenugreek, oyster mushroom and almond sauce 

The seafood on the dish provided a fusion of different flavours, where the cut of tuna was the best part. Squid ink quinoa was strange, but the crunch of the squid ink crisp added an interesting element to the dish. The vegetarian option wasn't too exciting, however it delivered simple flavours with fresh tastes.

Balmain bug with cured duck breast, black bean and coconut curd

Cauliflower with artichoke, hazelnut and black bean sauce and parmesan cheese.

I loved the different elements of my dish. The saltiness of the cured duck breast complemented the coconut curd and the softness of the balmain bug. It was an array of different flavours that worked extremely well. The thinly shaved artichoke with chopped cauliflower was generously dressed with parmesan cheese with a balance of flavours. It may have looked like a black pond with various lily pads, however it was nicer than it looked.

Pork cheek with fennel and black garlic sauce

Baby beetroot with white asparagus and radicchio

Multiple versions of pork cheek can not go wrong. One had a crumb, and the other piece was dressed with a caramel glaze. There was a great balance of salt which worked with the garlic and fennel sauce. On the other side of the table was a work of art. The vibrant colours of the fresh produce made your eyes pop. On top of dish were thin pieces of beetroot crisps which added crunch to the dish. 

Fillet of black angus beef with jerusalem artichoke, baby cucumber and burdock 

Slow cooked spiced carrot with black cabbage, forbidden rice and cucumber 

You know beef is cooked to perfection where it can be cut with a butter knife. It was quite a change to eat cuts of beef with artichoke and cucumber. After already eating 5 dishes, this was a great finish to the savoury components of the dining experience. The spiced carrot on the vegetarian dish was delicious. I admit, the forbidden rice looks bug like, but it was puffy rice. It was an interesting texture that takes some time to adjust to.

Pre Dessert: Honey dew sorbet with pieces of honeydew and liquorice cream

We both found the pre dessert tastier than the actual dessert (which was also tasty). All the components were refreshing and perfect for a summers night. There was pieces of dried out honey dew which had the texture of a sponge but taste of honey dew. It was a wonderful pre dessert.

Macadamia parfait with white chocolate, mint and lemon meringue 

A creamy light parfait with lovely pieces of white chocolate and a tangy broken lemon meringue. The parfait was different to what most may know as the one with layers. It was aerated and similar to a soft sponge, yet melted in your mouth. I loved the caramelised macadamia nuts which added crunch and extra sweetness to the dessert. A great finish to the meal. 

Bentley Restaurant and Bar definitely deserves their two hatted recognition. They provide exceptional service, and cater to everyone's eating style by slightly changing the menu to ensure everyone has a wonderful dining experience. 

Good food, good times! 

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Tian Ci Vegetarian Restaurant - Yum Cha @ West Ryde


I love Yum Cha!! The idea of Vegetarian yum cha would have never crossed my mind, but you meet new people who open your world to new ideas. I admit, the outside of the restaurant looks dodgy, but looks can be deceiving right? Some of the dishes were a bit different to what I would normally order at a Yum Cha, but always willing to try new things. It was also different as it was a small restaurant, so no one comes around with trolleys, you are provided with a menu and tick the boxes for what you would like to order.

Steamed rice rolls with satay sauce
This was on the special menu, and one of my favourite dishes. Steamed rice rolls is a yum cha staple, no matter if it is with prawns, meat or in this case some faux meat. There was a lovely light soy based sauce that accompanied the dish. I enjoyed the dish without the satay sauce, but my friend thought it was bland without it.
Steamed vegetarian dumplings

Steamed BBQ pork buns

Mushroom and vegetable buns
Both steamed buns were tasty, but I preferred the mushroom and vegetable buns. The buns themselves were soft, fluffy and delicate. Blogging and thinking about the steamed buns makes me salivate.

Pan grilled vegetable rolls
This dish had a very interesting texture, one that my palate did not quite enjoy. The inside was nice though, filled with mushrooms, and other various vegetables. I am not actually sure what the outside is made from, but it seemed slightly egg but also tofu like.

Pan grilled dumplings

Chicken with mushrooms
The broth was extremely tasty. But, I find that vegetarian chicken is not my favourite faux meat, as it can be more chewy than other faux means. 

Duck with Five Spice sauce
This was not what I expected. The dish smelt like duck, but didn't contain any pieces of duck (that I could see). The sauce was warm and juicy and absorbed in the layered rolls of duck (well I don't think it is duck, but I have no idea what it was). It was soft, yet chewy and filled with the lovely juices.

Sago with fresh melon
As per usual, you can't leave a restaurant without dessert. We were quite full by the end of it, so a dessert to share seemed appropriate. The dessert was refreshing, and a great way to end the meal.

I am not sure how much each dish cost, as all yum cha places have their own system. However, for 8 dishes and 1 dessert the bill roughly totalled $50 for two people.

Good food, good times!