Review: Sample Coffee (St Peters)

Sample Coffee is a coffee roster with locations in Surry Hills and St Peters. We visited the latter, which is walking distance from where we live. It is located in a newish industrial/commercial complex in the middle of nothingness. The cafe is large, modern and spacious, with simple modern wooden furniture very pleasing to my eye.

Sample Coffee

Regular coffees are made with their Pacemaker blend, which is great, but you can also choose one of the available specials for a few extra cents. My filter coffee from El Salvador was excellent, and I’m enjoying the bag of Pacemaker ($14 for 250g) that I bought for home.

Piccolo latte, filter coffee, almond milk latte

Piccolo latte ($4), large batch filter coffee ($4.20), almond milk latte ($4 + $1 for the milk)

Food-wise, you will find toast (sourdough or gluten-free), porridge, eggs or avo and feta on toast, sandwiches, etc. We tried the

smoked trout and poached egg served on two toasted slices of Nonie’s gluten free charcoal bread, goat’s cheese and ricotta, watercress, fresh herbs and lemon dressing. The bread is incredible, and the whole combo just works.

Smoked trout and poached egg on Nonie's gluten-free charcoal bread

Smoked trout and poached egg ($17)

If you’re after a more substantial meal, there are a couple of bowls on offer that can be ordered as a half bowl ($11) or full bowl ($15). We tried the one with charred broccoli, roasted carrots, white bean, Brussel sprouts, pickled radish, wild rice, vinaigrette and fresh herbs. We ordered it with the recommended side of roast lamb (other options are 12 hour beef brisket, free range ham off the bone, avocado, smoked trout and free-range poached egg). I really enjoyed this dish and agree that lamb was the perfect protein to go along with the flavours. The serving size was decent but not huge, so if you have a healthy appetite the $4 difference between bowl sizes will be totally worth spending.

Charred broccoli bowl with roast lamb

Full bowl broccoli ($15) + roast lamb ($7)

There are also several sweet treats on display, including pastries and giant cookies. The orange cake was the only gluten-free option the day we visited.

Gluten-free orange cake

Gluten-free orange cake ($4)

The Bottom Line
Coffee: 4/5, great coffee, a few daily specials, almond milk available
Food: 4.5/5, great food, Nonie’s gluten-free bread, gluten-free and vegetarian options available
Service: 4/5, service

Sample Coffee St Peters
1.03/75 Mary St
St Peters NSW 2044
(02) 9517 3963
Website
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St Peters Pro Shop & Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Yen's Vietnamese

Review: Yens Vietnamese (Waterloo)

This small Vietnamese eatery is located away from all the cool areas in the city but it’s worth making a detour (which can be justified by having gelato at Ciccone and Sons for dessert).

Every time we’ve come on Monday night for a pre-meditation bowl of soup it’s been packed, which is always a good sign. The food is BBB (bueno, bonito y barato), generous in size, and consistently good. The tables are always stocked with the mandatory sauces, fresh chilli, tissues and a flask of hot tea that gets promptly replaced when needed.

Sauces, tea

Noodle soups are a must-have here, the broths are flavoursome and don’t rely on heaps of sugar and MSG. The menu has tons of options to customise your soup, for example, my go-to is chicken broth with seafood and carb-free (yes, that’s exactly how it’s phrased in the menu – it comes with vegetables and no noodles). The base broth can be beef, chicken or vegetable – both the beef and chicken are excellent (haven’t tried the vegetable one). There are several protein and extras options so you won’t get bored ordering the same soup every time.

Beef & chicken pho

Beef & chicken pho ($15 + $3 for extra beef)

Pho with crispy skin chicken

Beef pho with crispy skin chicken ($14)

This time I had the cabbage salad with chicken and prawns which was, as you can see in the photo, a massive serve, and very tasty.

Cabbage salad with chicken & prawns

Cabbage salad with chicken and prawns ($15)

The stir-fried noodles are also highly customisable, with different noodle, sauce and protein options and a good amount of veggies.

Stir-fried noodles with chicken & vegetables

Stir-fried nooodles with chicken & vegetables ($13)

The Bottom Line
Drinks: 4.5/5, free hot tea.
Food: 4.5/5, fresh, tasty and lots of options.
Service: 4.5/5, warm, efficient and friendly.

Yens Vietnamese
29 Botany Rd
Waterloo NSW 2017
(02) 8399 0598

Yen's Vietnamese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Grandma's at McEvoy

Review: Grandma’s at McEvoy (Alexandria)

Grandma’s is a mini chain of Israeli cafes. I’ve walked past the one on McEvoy a zillion times on my way to/from the gym and it was only recently that I finally had the chance to eat there.

Grandma's open kitchen

The shashukas here seem to be famous (they have a few varieties: classic, spinach, beef, beef bolognese), so I ordered open fired eggplant shakshuka: 2 eggs cooked in sauce made of open fire eggplant, tomato & onion served with Labneh cheese. It comes with bread baked on premises, which is meant to be really good, but I had gluten-free toast instead. The shashuka was good but I had my expectations set too high. I’m still willing to try the other varieties, though.

Open Fire Eggplant Shashuka

Open fired eggplant shakshuka ($17.90)

The traditional chicken & vegetables casserole, served with rice, was awesome. It indeed looked and tasted like something your grandma would serve you when you went for a visit.

Traditional Chicken & Vegetables Casserole

Traditional chicken & vegetables casserole ($17.50)

The Jerusalem hummus and beef dish (slowly cooked minced beef served with Grandma’s homemade hummus, chickpeas & fresh bread) was also very tasty, good looking, and apparently very filling.

Jerusalem Hummus and Beef Dish

Jerusalem hummus and beef dish ($16.50)

Besides the usual coffee and tea offerings (there’s almond milk available for extra $0.50), there are also some homemade drinks and sodas, Israeli beer and other alcoholic beverages.

Almond milk chai latte, almond milk latte

Almond milk chai tea ($4.50), almond milk latte ($4.00)

Monday to Friday, Grandma’s offer a canteen-style lunch station. They also have a variety of frozen meals (including soups, stews, ice cream) and preserves for sale.

Grandma's olives, etc

The Bottom Line
Coffee & drinks: 3.5/5, decent coffee, almond milk available, also traditional drinks like rosewater lemonade and Israeli beer.
Food: 3.5/5, gluten-free and vegetarian options, traditional, hearty dishes.
Service: 3.5/5, good service.

Grandma’s at McEvoy
140-142 McEvoy St
Alexandria NSW 2015
(02) 9699 1862
Website

Grandma's At McEvoy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Corner McCafe

Review: The Corner McCafe (Camperdown)

I’ve sold my soul to the devil. I’m reviewing an establishment that belongs to McDonald’s. Ok, jokes aside, I’ve been thinking about giving this place a go ever since they opened back when I was doing my undergrad at Sydney Uni but having a very good cafe on campus I never had the choice. Now that I’m back to the neighbourhood (I work at RPAH), I decided it was about time to see what they had to offer. Apologies in advance for the point-and-shoot photos.

This former McCafe morphed into The Corner when Maccas decided to test their ability to engage the hipster market. Kale and quinoa were recent additions in selected cafe menus and chia pots were not available in your local supermarket just yet.

The Corner

The corner has a section of food to grab and go (e.g. wraps, yoghurt, etc.) but you can also order a customised item either to eat in or takeaway. The bowls can be built with a base (brown rice or slaw), a protein (pulled pork, chicken or haloumi) and 2 extras (tortilla chips, pumpkin seeds, croutons, pico de gallo, dry slaw, jalapeños), plus lettuce, cucumber, cheese and a sauce (chipotle mayo, tomato chilli jam, spicy aioli or garlic aioli). All for $10.80. My bowl had slaw, pulled pork, pico de gallo and chipotle aioli. I found the meat to be the star of the show, with good taste and a decent serving. The veggies were a bit old and boring and could not be rescued by the sauce. I did not notice that there were premium extras that could be added to the bowl, e.g. guacamole ($1.50). There’s also the option of doubling up the protein for $3.

Pulled pork bowl

Pulled pork bowl ($10.80)

Other customisable items include pressed wraps, grain salads and classic wraps. There’s also a pulled pork sandwich and a classic bowl with pulled pork, plus toast and toasties (gluten-free available for extra $1).

Coffee is surprisingly expensive, considering there are plenty of better choices around. Small coffees are $3.70, and extras (e.g. soy/almond milk are $0.70).

Almond milk flat white

Small almond milk flat white ($4.40)

The Bottom Line
Coffee: 2.5/5, expensive and not much better than capsule coffee.
Food: 3/5, gluten-free and vegetarian choices available, customisable items.
Service: 3/5, standard “order and pay at the counter” service.

The Corner McCafé
8b Missenden Rd
Camperdown NSW 2050
(02) 9565 5710
Website

The Corner by McCafé Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Aslan Coffee

Review: Aslan Coffee (St Peters)

Continuing with our exploration of our new neighbourhood, we visited this coffee micro brewery for lunch. It rates well in reviews everywhere and they seem serious about their beans.

Aslan Coffee

The coffee comes from Indonesia and is light and soft. Keep this in mind if you like your coffee strong.

Chai latte, long black

Chai latte ($3.5) + almond milk ($1), long black ($3.5)

The menu also features Indonesian items like the perkedel (Indonesian style potato croquette), Aunty Mei’s pork satay and Tempeh Orek burger. The rest of the menu mixes standard cafe fare with some North American influences, such as huevos rancheros and pulled pork burgers. Danish feta and chipotle aioli appear multiple times in the menu.

We ordered from the breakfast menu, which is available all days on weekends. The peppercorn hot smoked salmon with pan-fried perkedel, chipotle aioli, poached eggs, sesame seeds & fresh greens had a great flavour.

Peppercorn hot smoked salmon

Peppercorn hot smoked salmon ($18.5)

We ordered the green eggs omelette, a herby spinach omelette with semi-dried tomatoes, avocado, Danish feta cheese, pine nuts & side of chilli pesto with extra Spanish chorizo. Although I like my eggs less cooked, the omelette was good and very filling.

Green eggs omelette

Green eggs omelette ($17.50) + spanish chorizo ($3.5)

Other healthy options in the menu I noticed are the avocado boconcini salad ($12.5, with grilled chicken for $5 extra) and the roast vegetables salad ($15.5, with pulled pork for $4 extra). It’s also good to keep in mind that gluten-free toast is available for $2 extra.

The Bottom Line
Coffee: 3.5/5, good coffee but very delicate. Almond milk available.
Food: 3.5/5, plenty of vegetarian options (with vegan option available on most of them), some gluten-free options.
Service: 3.5/5, good service.

Aslan Coffee
1 Council St
St Peters NSW 2044
0488 827 526
Website
On Facebook

Aslan Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sydney Park Hotel

Review: Sydney Park Hotel (Newtown)

When we first moved to Sydney, we lived in an apartment in Erskineville right between Newtown and St Peters stations. Every time I walked past the Sydney Park Hotel to catch the train in St Peters, I saw tradies drinking before 8am. That image stuck to my head until recently, when I learned from a good source that the pub, in particular the kitchen, had been revamped.

Bar

Dining room

We visited for lunch on a public holiday just because you gotta take every opportunity to have a drink with lunch on a Monday. Turns out we had been drinking the night before and so I was feeling a bit rough. I perused the drinks menu for an alternative to bloody marys, which I don’t like, and discovered the pickle back: your choice of spirit (gin in my case) with pickle juice and a cornichon chaser. If it didn’t work as a hangover cure, I thought, it might at least prevent exercise-induced muscle cramps, LOL. As I ordered my drink, I realised they have O’Brien gluten-free beers at the bar. Good to know for next time.

Pickle juice & gin

Pickle back with gin ($5.5)

If you’re in the mood for a fancy cocktail, the sloe gin fizz (sloe gin, gin, prosecco, lemon) is a good choice.

Sloe gin fizz

Sloe gin fizz ($12)

Foodwise, the menu has a few gluten-free options. Alvaro chose the bangers & mash: Irish pork sausages, mash, peas, gravy, which were fab.

Bangers and mash

Bangers & mash ($16)

In my hangover state, I chose the chicken wings, half kilo (!) buttermilk chicken wings with verde picante sauce, plus my beloved slaw on the side (other available sides are salad, vegetables and mash). The wings were excellent, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the sauce. Nice slaw, too.

Chicken wings

Chicken wings ($16)

Slaw

Slaw ($6)

Another gluten-free option are the nachos with adobo beef or refried black beans, avocado, cheese, sour cream, salsa and jalapeños. The serving is massive and the flavour is good, although keep in mind the corn chips are baked with all the stuff on top, and thus can get soggy.

Beef nachos

Adobo beef nachos ($19)

The Bottom Line
Drinks: 4/5, good selection of cocktails/spirits (good value for money), O’Brien gluten-free beers available.
Food: 3.5/5, vegetarian and gluten-free options available, tasty and decently priced.
Service: 3.5/5, good service.

Sydney Park Hotel
631 King St
Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 9557 1188
Website
On Facebook

Sydney Park Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pacha Mama Burritos

Review: Pacha Mama Burritos (Farm Gate Market, Hobart, TAS)

On our last day in Hobart we followed the hotel staff’s recommendation for brunch and headed to the Farm Gate Market, a farmers market set up on a road not far away from we were staying.

Flowers

Despite being a small market, there was a variety of fresh produce, flowers, artisanal bread, raw honey, sweets, etc.

Stalls

Stalls

But I was more interested in the food! The food stall area had a variety of choices, from gourmet pizzas to Asian fare, with common seating.

Food stalls

Sitting

I decided to try Pacha Mama, a burrito stand. Two things caught my eye: the wallaby burrito and the option to order the burrito as a bowl (making it gluten-free).

Pachamama

I had a chat with the owners while my bowl was prepared and asked them whether they knew “pachamama” was not a Mexican word (they didn’t). Turns out the name was inspired by the Pachamama Project (a crowd-sourcing campaign, I believe). I explained the meaning and origin of the word, thank them for my generously served brunch and proceeded to stuff my face with the tasty burrito. It was my first time trying wallaby (I’ve had kangaroo many times before) and I must say this was a great way of cooking it.

Wallaby burrito bowl

Wallaby burrito bowl ($13)

After brunch we squeezed in a quick visit to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. I didn’t have enough time to make it to MONA, but will do next time.

The Bottom Line
Food: 4/5, local produce, vegan and gluten-free options, good value for money.
Service: 4/5, friendly and efficient.

Pacha Mama Burritos
Saturday at Salamanca Market
Sunday at Farm Gate Market
Hobart, Tasmania
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Silver Hill Fisch

Review: Silver Hill Fisch – Boutique Seafood Sausages (Salamanca Market, Hobart, TAS)

On Saturday afternoon we did the mandatory touristy Hobart thing and went to the Salamanca Markets. It was starting to sprinkle, so our perusal of stalls did not last long, but I got to try a few gins (shout out to the amazing sheep whey gin I regret not buying to bring home).

We were about to leave and I was definitely not hungry but I saw a food caravan selling salmon sausages and was curious to try. As I went closer I realised they had a gluten-free option so I decided I definitely needed to try.

Menu

They did not have any gluten-free buns but served the sausage on a bed of tangy kale, which I did not mind at all. Sausage, kale + mayo = great meal, even when not hungry. If you’re in Hobart, check these sausages out.

Salmon sausage

Salmon sausage, no bun ($8)

The Bottom Line
Food: 4/5, local produce, gluten-free option.
Service: 4/5, friendly and efficient.

Silver Hill Fisch – Boutique Seafood Sausages
Salamanca Market
Salamanca Pl
Hobart TAS 7001
Website
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Mures Upper Deck

Review: Mures Upper Deck (Hobart, TAS)

A catch-up dinner with good friends from uni who were attending the conference took us to Mures, a two-level restaurant that is right on the wharf. We dined at the fancier restaurant on level one, aptly named “Upper Deck”.

Mures Upper Deck

I’m the kind of person who dislikes drinking white wine by itself but loves pairing it with food. I ordered a nice glass of 2016 Chartley Estate Riesling that paired well with my meal.

White wine

Glass of Riesling ($14)

I ordered the seafood tasting plate with blue swimmer crab salsa, Tasmanian scallop ceviche, ocean trout tartare, two tempura oysters (three natural for the gluten-free option) & saffron aioli. As a side, I had the asparagus, pan tossed with goats curd and hazelnuts. Both dishes were excellent on their own and even better together.

Seafood tasting plate

Seafood tasting plate ($31.5)

Asparagus

Asparagus ($9)

My friends ordered dishes that would normally be considered ordinary but were taken to another level. The seafood laksa ($41) certainly did not contain any frozen seafood mix, but instead came with Spring Bay mussels, Tasmanian scallops, premium white fish, Atlantic salmon, Bass Strait squid, Australian prawns with tempura shiitake mushrooms, chilli, fresh herbs & rice noodles. Likewise, the wild fish & chips ($38.5) could be either beer-battered or sesame & almond crumbed and came with organic greens, citrus fennel & seasoned fries. Great fries, by the way, and thanks Justin for sharing :)

The Bottom Line
Drinks: 3.5/5, good wine and cocktail selection.
Food: 3.5/5, locally sourced, well executed dishes.
Service: 3.5/5, polite and unpretentious.

Mures Upper Deck
Victoria Dock
Davey St
Hobart TAS 7000
(03) 6231 1999
Website

Mures Upper Deck Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cafe Lola

Review: Cafe Lola (Hobart, TAS)

One morning, breakfast at the conference was muffins and fruit. I silently turned around and reached for my phone to search for the nearby cafes I had bookmarked. The nearest one was Cafe Lola and I was extremely glad I found it.

Cafe Lola is located right on the wharf and it’s hard to miss – just follow the coffee-centric signs.

Cafe Lola

Cafe Lola

Their menu reads “At Lola we believe good food begins with sourcing locally and ethically, wherever possible, then preparing all our food fresh combining paleo and clean-food philosophies. Most importantly treating our food and customers with care, so you can enjoy being healthy and happy.” From my experience, it seems they do practice what they preach.

As I found out, coffee in Hobart is not cheap but fortunately this was an exception. My long black was not only decently priced ($3.50) but also decently sized and did not disappoint.

Long black

Long black ($3.50)

Even though I knew I would have a lot of food throughout the day, the brekkie paleo pod with soft scrambled eggs, bacon (or smoked salmon), spinach and kumara hash-brown sounded too good to miss. It was as wonderful as it sounds and very, very filling.

Brekkie paleo pod

Brekkie paleo pod ($15.50)

Even though the breakfast menu reads somewhat “normal”, most of the items have been revamped. For example, the toast is either gluten-free or rye and the spreads are home preserves. The granola, served with honey yoghurt and berries, is gluten-free, as are the ricotta & buckwheat pancakes with crispy maple spec (sic), orange & cardamom butter. The poached eggs come with sweet potato fritters, seared spinach & smashed avocado. You get the drill.

For lunch, they have pods in which you choose a base, a protein and an optional extra side. They also have gluten-free, paleo and regular cakes, slices and biscuits to grab and go.

Cafe Lola will remain bookmarked for my future visits to Hobart.

The Bottom Line
Coffee: 4.5/5, good and cheaper than the average in Hobart.
Food: 4.5/5, locally and ethically sourced produce, many gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and paleo options.
Service: 4/5, friendly and polite

Cafe Lola
1/1 Franklin Wharf
Hobart TAS 7000
(03) 6236 9934
Website

Lola Espresso Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato