Sweet and Spicy Balsamic + Mustard Chicken Roast

Some flavour combinations were made to be. One of those combinations has to be balsamic vinegar and dijon mustard. Add a touch of heat to it, and it is always a huge winner. I had eaten really tasty chicken tenders marinated in balsamic and mustard for 6 hrs, and cooked on a bbq some years ago, and the taste of those delicious pieces still haunt me.

Now this recipe can be thrown together in no time at all. As soon as you are home, throw it all together, pop it in the oven and let the oven do the hard work for you. The marinading of the chicken is really optional because the moisture from the mustard and the vinegar helps to maintain the tenderness of the chicken. I normally add a touch of water to my chicken whenever it’s roasting, or some chicken stock (depending on what I have on hand) to ensure that when it’s done the chicken doesn’t turn out dry. This really is a problem with chicken breast, but it’s a good idea anyway :).

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So I just marinaded the chicken straight in the baking tray, and that went straight to oven. #savedoncleanup! Just mix together the hot sauce, vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper, and some parsley too. Coat the chicken well and this is something I just like doing – add the garlic under the skin of the chicken so that you get that intense garlic flavour throughout the meat. Oh and the hot sauce! How could I forget.

I picked up some Byron Bay Chili hot sauce and oh my goodness it is phenomenal. I use it in so many marinades and it even made a feature in myΒ Bang Bang BroccoliΒ recipe and it was incredible. This hot sauce has mango in it, so it has that delicious sweet mango taste, but an intensely hot chilli finish. It is deceptively hot, which I just love. You can use tabasco, or sriracha even, but if you are in Australia… please just do yourself the favour and get your hands on some of this stuff.

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Now20170228_181031.jpg you want to cook the chicken for around 40 mins to the hour, depending on the thickness of your chicken. I used chicken drumsticks because they were on special (haha), but any cut of chicken would do. Remember to check if it’s cooked by just cutting into the thickest portion and ensuring the meat is cooked through.

 

Here is the recipe card, and trust me it is so worth it. Your kitchen is going to smell absolutely divine! Oh and be wary that you are going to get plenty of back bits, which are not for eating. Just remember that the hot sauce and mustard do have some sugar in them, so naturally these sugars are going to caramelise in the oven. You could absolutely use some of the left over flavour juices and sauce to make yourself a different stock, but I would avoid using those charred bits altogether.

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And that is it! It’s easy, and it is totally delicious. Mid week chicken dinners do not need to be a chore. It’s a cheap cut of meat, and it is an easy recipe to follow so it is perfect for those looking for a budget-friendly and healthy meal. I like serving the chicken with some onions that have rested in some salt, pepper and lime juice, along with a big heart salad. This chicken recipe is a great way to get that protein in your diet, and pair it with plenty of greens such as rocket, kale or spinach for a carb free and incredibly delicious dinner. If you find the heat overpowering go ahead and add some cheese, such as feta or ricotta, to your salad to allow your tongue some cooling creamy goodness.

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Review: Belle’s Chicken

Belles Hot Chicken Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

For a casual meetup after work one night, in my first week no less, a couple of friends and I decided to head to Barangaroo in the heart of Sydney city for some good American style friend chicken. Thankfully I only had to walk for 10 minutes from work, which wasn’t too bad.

Now I hadn’t heard much about Belle’s. The only thing I knew was that it was a place to buy chicken. Surprise surprise!! What I didn’t know was that they had an interesting range of spicy-ness which of course was a huge point of interest for me πŸ˜›

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In terms of the menu, it is short and concise. Only wings, drumsticks, tenders, and ribs on offer in terms of the chicken. Each of those comes with a side, which I thought were interesting. In a way I do like that the menu was so small and meant that the focus was completely on those few items. The real variation is in the heat of the chicken topping. Now they offer some fish and steak too, and burgers, but it’s clear from everyone eating at Belle’s that it is the chicken you really need to go for.

We opted for southern chicken tenders, the mildest option, with a broccoli and almond salad with blue cheese sauce, medium drumsticks with the house chips, and another round of medium drumsticks with the pickled vegetables both with ranch sauce. Β The Bar at the restaurant looked pretty good and was actually the front of the counters. We saw two fancy looking liquids and ordered both – the lemonade with cardamom and house tea.

The tenders, I thought we great. Tenders are just such a simple choice, and Belle’s does them fantastically. The chicken was crispy on the outside and beautifully moist on the inside. The blue cheese sauce was equally amazing, and rich and just slightly pungent. I wasn’t particularly impressed by the broccoli and almond salad mainly because I couldn’t taste the almond and the sauce was a little off almost bitter tasting. I ended up dipping the chunks of broccoli into the blue cheese sauce to just lift the flavour a little.

The medium wings were SALTY! This was just such a shame because the spice level was really lovely and manageable. But that salt content, was off the roof. Dipping the chicken into the sauces helped, but only slightly. The chicken left me feeling fairly parched, and thankfully we had that lemonade and tea to help the chicken go down nicely. The chips were decent, and with the ranch sauce tasted just like other chips to be honest. The pickled vegetables were nice, and tangy, and went well with the crunchy and spicy chicken.

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The drinks? LOVED THEM! The tea seemed to have some saffron through it, which was just so different and tasty. The tea wasn’t overly sweet which was great. I loved the cardamom in the lemonade. It kept it warm yet refreshing and wasn’t overdone at all. The drink was just laced with the spice.

Now for the voting?

The menu: 7/10

I liked the simplicity, but I would like to have seen a few more sides perhaps?

Ambiance: 9/10

Honestly Belle’s loses a point only because on the view of the cranes still constructing the Barangaroo area which does ruin the sight line a little. Otherwise the outdoor decked setting is really wonderful to enjoy the night in. That along with the fairy lights on the roof – spectacular.

The Food: 7/10

I loved the tenders, but not the salad. The spice of the drumsticks was good, but unfortunately that salt was far too overpowering. I’ve given extra points for the excellent drinks, but otherwise the food was fairly average.

Service: 7/10

The line moved fairly slow, and there really wasn’t much interaction with them. Overall they all seem fairly friendly, but perhaps more talk with them would be nice!

Average score: 7.5/10

Would I go back. Probably. Who says no to fried chicken that doesn’t make you sick?

Spicy Tamarind Tava Fish

What do you do when you have some beautiful fillets of Basa at home? You hurry up and cook something delicious with them! Before I get to the recipe, I want to say this one can be made with ANY good white fish. Basa is a great cheap option, but pomfret or even kingfish would have to be my preferences. Of course go ahead and use cod or halibut, though I would avoid Hoki because it does have a very overpowering smell and flavour.

Now this recipe is definitely one from India, and it is definitely amazing. This style of fish is one I’ve eaten at an aunt’s house who hails from a different community, though within the same language group. I know – India is a little complicated in that sense. Okay a lot complicated *sigh*. Point is, fish is not something I grew p with, and this particular style of cooking fish is not something you would see in my specific community. It is, however, so delicious… it’s ridiculous.

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This recipe use a lot of tamarind pulp. You can usually find a bottle of this in th e Asian food aisle of your local supermarket, or head over to an Asian/Indian grocery store. Something a little off the original recipes is my addition of ginger, only a little, to brighten up the flavour. Now ginger is something I tend to add to a lot of my recipes because of the overall health benefits that come with it – trust me a little bit of it in your diet will go a long long way. Back to the tamarind – if you are able to find tamarind in block form then you can soak the same amount in some warm water for a couple of hours before removing the pulp from the mixture and using that. It does take longer, but of course fresh will always be better.

 

Let’s also talk about the marination. There really isn’t much to it apart from the fact that you want to give the fish at least 30 minutes to soak up in all the wonderful flavours. This tenderises the fish, and also just laces everything with the marination, which I just love. The maximum time to marinade the fillets would be 2 hours for uncut fillets like I used, but 30 minutes if you are using small chunks. After the fish is done marinating, we coat it with a mixture of rice flour and a touch of semolina for crunch. This will essentially glue the marinade and the flavour to the fish, while giving you a delicious toasty and crunchy topping to bite through. Even talking about this has me pretty damn excited.

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The ingredients for the marinade itself are really straightfoward. Start with the tamarind, some dried chilli, chilli powder, a touch of turmeric, asafetida, some corinader, a pinch of salt, crushed garlic and minced ginger – BAM. You need to soak the dried chilli in a 1/2 tsp of hot water for 10 minutes before transferring the chili to a mortar and pestle, and crush away. The final marinade should be nice and thick, but smooth overall. You have to rub the marinade into the flesh of the fish. If you plan to use skin-on fish, then use a sharp knife to just score the skin. This way the intense marination flavour with get straight to the meat and the skin too. Yum yum yum!

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So here we have the recipe card! Do tell me what you thought about this one

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Healthy Avo Smash, poached Egg and Eggplant

MAKE BREAKFAST AMAZING AGAIN.

and make it at home.

SO many people spend anywhere between 15 – 30 dollars on their Sunday brunch, each week! Now, if you are willing to put in the 10 minutes of time it will take to make the food, you are going to save so much money. This particular recipe is so simple and easy, and you can actually make most the elements ahead of time and keep them in the fridge to use in other recipes. To top it off, there are plenty of ways to tweak this recipe for a new flavour each and every time, that way each Sunday will be amazingly special.

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Here comes the tricky part – the avocado. Why is it tricky? How many times have you cut open an avocado thinking it is the right softness to use, only to find it horribly hard or yucky and black? Oh it happens to all of us. The trick is to just understand the firmness. When you grab the avo, I normally do this with my non-writing hand to check, it should be firm enough to give a little resistance, but soft enough that you can push the skin in. Some people seriously have a knack for this.

To the avocado I always add some kind of cheese. In this recipe I went for cream cheese, but some delicious crumbly feta or ricotta are perfect substitutes. If you are vegan, then go ahead and add just a touch of Silken tofu to add a delcious creamy element to the avocado smash. I also add a hint of sumac because I just love the tangy spice that it provides, a squeeze of lime, which preserves the green color, and some parsley too. If not parsley you can add chives, or dill even to just freshen up the avocado even more. You can also add a touch of paprika if you like a little heat to your breakfast.

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In terms of the egg, I went for a yummy runny yolk by poaching my egg, but my parents personally love a good ol’ sunny side up. So no matter what the preference, you can use it. If you prefer scrambled, then add some of the cheese you used in the avo smash to the eggs. To poach the egg – I cannot believe I forgot to take photos! – add a touch of lime juice or vinegar to your pot of hot water. Once the water comes to a rolling boil, generate a vortex by making circles in the water using the end of a spoon. I like to crack the egg into a little bowl before Β this point to make life a little easier because once the vortex has been made, you just want to slide the egg straight into the centre, slowly and gently. The egg should swirl around and essentially fold up on itself. I remove the egg as soon as I can see that the white has cooked off using a slotted spoon, but keep cooking the egg to your liking. Make sure you set it aside to dry off a little on some kitchen paper.

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Now this is the part I do beforehand. The roasted eggplant and the tomato-basil sauce. Stay tuned for the recipe, but any kind of tomato relish or even left over pasta sauce would work well. For the eggplant, I cut it up in thin slices and placed them in a roasting tray. I coated the eggplant generously with olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper and roasted them at 180 degrees celcius, until the eggplant is beautifully golden and soft and has started to caramelise a little.

Here is the recipe card for this particular breakfast recipe!

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Review: Mr Wong’s

Mr. Wong Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

So to celebrate my birthday *sigh I am getting older* among other important things, we headed to Mr Wong’s in Sydney’s CBD, and boy was I truly impressed. Tucked away in an alleyway with very modest signage is this wonderful restaurant, that isn’t small at all. Upon entering you feel gusts of cool breeze (It’s the aerodynamics of the room #engineeringgraduaterighthere) and you see the expansive set up all decorated in a colonial french theme. I loved the colors, the vibe, the ambience, and the sounds from the place – it was all so cozy and inviting.

We had a reservation, but we were a little early. Thankfully they seated us right away. Now the first thing I noticed, were how friendly and smiley the wait staff was. Not a single one looked unhappy or b***hy – something I have noticed in the city. The second thing I noticed was how incredibly loud the table next to us was. Here we were having an intimate dinner while a bunch of corporate dressed men were swearing their heads off. It did ruin the mood a little, but alas not the fault of the restaurant itself.

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Oh and you can literally see the chefs working! It’s so wonderful! The open kitchen really shows you the story of how the food is made and I loved it. The fact that the kitchen was so beautifully clean was another awesome point.

Now to the bits and bobs of the food and menu. Firstly, the wine list – so good!! They have a fabulous range of drinks to serve, which I loved. We didn’t order anything too heavy, considering it was only the afternoon. We stuck to a simple Reisling and Rose wine. We also were offered complimentary tea, which I really enjoyed. I chose Chrysanthemum, which is deliciously nutty and subtle and perfect with food. I would definitely recommend grabbing a nice tea during your meal, I find that it helps all the food just go down well.

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Okay, the menu. It’s expansive! I loved that there were multiple dim sum options, and they were certainly very unique. I had never seen aubergine (eggplant) and chicken together in a dumpling, thought we didn’t order it.

We stuck with our favourite, the Pork xiao long bao, a delicious steamed dumpling which has a broth encased. It’s incredibly hot so you need to ‘pop’ the dumpling before eating it otherwise you will burn your mouth. Would I recommend it. Yes. Hell yes I would. The dumpling was soft and delicious and the pork was tender and flavourful. The broth wasn’t overpowering at all and just complimented the meat beautifully.

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For mains we decided to order the Kung Pao Chicken, along with the ‘Typhoon shelter type’ King crab fried rice. The rice was such a treat to the eyes. The speckles of the crab meat, the garlic, the rice, and chilli were just beautiful. The rice itself was surprisingly light, and not oily at all which I really loved. Normally I find fried rice at restaurants just drenched in oil, with all it’s flavour taken over by this oil. But not at Mr Wong’s. The rice was perfectly seasoned, and was just so damn good! In my opinion this was one of the best fried rice’s I had ever eaten.

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The Kung Pao Chicken was wonderful. Just wonderful. It was a true balance of sweet, spicy and salty – umami :P. The chicken had a beautiful smokey color and flavour, and the roasted peanuts were just a lovely crunchy compliment to the soft and tender meat. The meal came with fried chilli as well, and not only were these great to look at, but they tasted phenomenal when eaten with pieces of chicken and rice also. Β The green’s along with the chicken balanced the saltyness of the meal greatly, and offered some color and freshness to the meal and palate too. With the fried rice… it was absolute perfection.

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Did we order dessert? Sadly. No we didn’t – We got macron’s from Adriano Zumbo in QVB instead ❀

Okay time to rate the place. My favourite part.

Food: 10/10

I really have nothing more to say about it. It was delicious.

Service: 9/10

I’m only taking a point off because the wait staff that looked after us was a little slow, and well forgetful :/

Ambiance: 10/10

They have done a fantastic job at Mr Wong’s in bringing in a bit of history and culture into the restaurant. The whole place is warm, and inviting and tells a little story about the food and everything behind it. The fact that the kitchen is completely open to everyone, is a huge added bonus.

The menu: 9.5/10

Half a point off because I would have liked to see more chicken in the meat section of the menu, but otherwise this one is really great.

Total score: 38.5/40 OR 9.625/10 πŸ˜€

Would I go back. Of course.

Bang Bang Broccoli

Okay so I have been wanting to make this recipe for AGES! But every time I ended up buying broccoli it was for some other recipe, usually a Thai curry, or a stir fry. So FINALLY I had a whole bunch of broccoli left, and I had a free Saturday (full disclosure I was actually meant to go out for a fancy dinner but got a tad bit sick the night before *sigh*). So here we go.

Now the first awesome thing about this recipe is that you can make it completely VEGAN! Yay! πŸ™‚ Otherwise it is ofc 100% vegetarian, so a bonus. This recipe is quick, simple and works fantastic as a 3:30pm snack, or even an accompaniment for lunch. Simple, delicious, crunchy and healthy – what more do you need?

So you want to start by cleaning the broccoli really well. It’s the kind of vegetable that a lot of mold and/or bugs can really latch onto. Use lukewarm water to soak the broccoli for around 3-5 minutes, and then pat dry on paper towels. Make sure you dry it off well, otherwise the batter will not coat the broccoli properly.

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Then make the sauce. Oh the sauce. SO much delicious in on little go. Set the sauce aside so that it reaches room temp, and thins out as well. This is important to ensure you get a consistent coating of the broccoli when you toss it all together. I add garlic powder to my recipe because I love that added hit, but if you aren’t a fan then omit it completely. If you choose to use Sriracha in your sauce, then skip the garlic powder otherwise the flavour will be far too overpowering. Trust me.

Next up, the batter. You want to start by mixing the apple cider vinegar with the milk, even if you are using a vegan milk substitute. This will basically make an instant buttermilk for you. You can use buttermilk, but I personally like the fruity tartness of the apple cider vinegar. In a bowl, mix together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and hot sauce. Pour in the milk and vinegar mixture and whisk everything well until the batter is nice and smooth.

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Cut up the broccoli into little chunks and add it to the batter, coating each piece really well. Make sure the stem is coated nicely too.

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I like to set these aside for at least 5-10 minutes, just to soak up all of that hot sauce goodness. It is so worth it. After that, toss each piece into breadcrumbs, before dropping them into your deep frying over medium heat. Fry them until they are beautiful and golden brown. Remove them and let them rest on some paper towel. You need to let these settle for a few minutes, allowing the paper towel to soak the oil, before salting the chunks. Finally toss them into the delicious sauce and then serve them up.

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Need the recipe card? It’s right here!

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Have a go at this insanely easy, but incredibly delicious recipe. Side note. My sister HATES greens. She is only 10, and well, she behaves like most 10 year olds and despises broccoli. But, interesting, she ate these yummy morsels. She did think they were a little spicy, but hell she still ate them.That is the important part πŸ™‚

Review: Criniti’s Italian

Criniti's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

For some reason or other, Criniti’s has become my go to restaurant. Need to go to a decent restaurant? Criniti’s. Need to go to a restaurant with plenty of vegetarian options? Criniti’s. Need to go somewhere closeby and/or has multiple outlets? Yup. Criniti’s.

So this particular review is based on all the vegetarian meals I ate. SO, meat eaters, this one isn’t for you.

I sound like a big advertisement :/ But in all seriousness. This is place is pretty packed on weekdays as well. During lunch there are always plenty of families, or people from work getting a bite. At night, the ambiance is warm and cozy and it is always someone’s birthday. Now the decor isn’t exactly to my personal taste, with the large mounted Ducati and spare parts adorning the place, but I absolutely love the visible wood fire oven, colorful bar serving some pretty great drinks (with plenty of Italian liquors and wines), along with the overall slightly vintage look.

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DEMOLISHED!

The service I have found to be very friendly, but a little slow. Particularly on weekdays! But alas when short staffed, this is bound to happen. The staff is most definitely patient however. It’s not all that customary for the manager to be serving food, but when needed he or she is also out there serving or cleaning up, which is something I really liked. I think it’s fantastic when the entire staff is working as a team ya know? #teamspirit. Much too often I’ve seen managers unprepared to do the dirty work. *sigh*

The menu here is pretty damn expansive, with regular pizza, white pizza, risotto, burgers, salad and so much more. The prices are a bit on the high side, but the portions are pretty large. I would generally say one plate between two people is the right amount. I love the drinks menu because of the excellent wine and beer range. Yes even their beer range is great. Typically I opt for a simple Riesling with my food, or a really good fruity White, coz I love my white wine. Dad went for a peroni, and I must say I did like it.

Alright onto the part that you really want to hear about. The food.

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We started our meal with the Tomato Brushcetta Pizza Crust, as an entree. Dad in paricular loves this one because it’s delicious and fresh. There is fresh tomato, basil and onion which have been rested in their own juices with some salt and pepper ofc. It’s such a simple combination, but it is a bang on winner. The garlic crust this was served on was wonderfully thin, with a thick but soft crust. The juices of the bruschetta softens the crust down so much… love it. In saying this however, this is something you can easily do at home, so for the price you are paying I would like to see something more original and extravagant. Even a hint of balsamic would have elevated this to another level.

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Next up we ordered the Penne Vegetarian. This was a delicious pasta in a magnificent basil sauce with eggplant, sundried tomatos, olives, zucchini and capsicum. I love it when pasta is loaded with rich vegetables, and this was just that. The sauce was a stand-out really, and in fact paired as a tasty sauce for the left over crusts from our pizza. The pasta was cooked perfectly, and so were the vegetables. I certainly would recommend this one for any vegetarians out there.

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This was followed by our next main -the ferrara pizza. This I absolutely loved. There was onion, capsicum, olives and the crust was so excellent. You could taste the light smokiness of the wood fire oven on it, which is just another added taste element. The only downside to this one was that it had cooled down a little before it came to our table. We could actually see our pizza on the counter waiting to be delivered to us. This was a bit of a bummer, but the pizza itself was great. On top of that, look at the large crust! This wasn’t a huge deal for us, since we did dip the crust in the leftover pasta sauce, but considering the price, I would have like to see more topping and less bread.

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And we did decide to grab some dessert too. We opted for the 3 scoop gelato, choosing salted caramel, lemon sorbet and cookies and cream (seriously how cute is the serving!!). The cookies and cream was PHENOMENAL. Truly it was so creamy and decadent, with chunks of little cookies scattered in the scoops. Each little chunk was a different size, and portion, so it added a great dimension of texture to the ice cream. The salted caramel was true bliss in a scoop and was finished by my sister in a jiffy. The least liked was the lemon sorbet, mainly because it tasted more like an icy pole than anything else!

Okay time to rank.

Food: 6.5/10

I’ve taken points off because of the brushetta and the pizza. The un-originality of the former, along with the price of it was a let down. As I mentioned above, I would have liked more of the topping than the crust that we got. Also the lemon sorbet gelato, well I didn’t really like it all that much.

Service: 5/10

This is really the let down. I understand busy, but having to wait over 10 minutes to even catch someone’s eye for the bill, did bug me. Oh and the bill was just given to us – a piece of paper. No book or anything!

Ambiance: 9/10

Apart from all the biking gear, which you actually lose focus on within 10 minutes, the ambiance is lovely and cozy.

The menu: 8/10

The menu has a number of items, but I would love to see some more original recipes.

Total: 7/10

Would I go back? Well yes. I’ve actually always had really good experiences at Criniti’s!

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