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˜›

20170222_194252

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.

20170222_194436

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?

Advertisements

Restaurant Review: Green Peppercorn

Green Peppercorn Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I had heard so many awesome things about Green Peppercorn and I am so happy my bestie took us out to check it out. What better way to celebrate good friendship than with Thai food? I feel like its the perfect cuisine with the balance of the spicy, the creamy, the sweet, and the sour. Some of my favourite restaurants happen to be Thai πŸ˜› I think Green Peppercorn is a new addition to the list πŸ˜›

Tucked away above a bar, we basically completely missed the sign. It’s like those brain teaser tests, where there is a colour spelled out, and it’s written in a different colour. Like GREENΒ or BLUE.Β Furthermore, the sign is right in front of a staircase… so it definitely threw us all off a little. Anyway, up the long and funky staircase we went where on the ground floor there is a wall of mirrors and while climbing I just remember some form of cool painting.Β 

Once you enter the restaurant, it’s a loud and casual set up. On the left was the large and very well equipped bar, while on the right and ahead there are plenty of tables. We went on a Wednesday, so ofc a booking wasn’t really necessary. Now even for a Wednesday, there was a decent crowd… enough for the sounds of laughter and chatter to drift out to the staircase.

IMG-20160204-WA0009IMG-20160204-WA0002

The menu boasted with plenty of items to choose and select from. The drink menu was vast, and the food… blimey there was heaps of it. Green Peppercorn offers all the classics like green and red curry, pad thai and pad kee mao, while serving up plenty of the irregulars. The good thing is that there is a great selection of vegetarian options, and plenty of really exotic and fun flavours. I mean how many times do you see betal leaf and 2 pages of salad options? Not very often.

IMG-20160204-WA0011.jpg

We ordered the following:

  1. roast red duck curry
  2. thai papaya salad
  3. lamb massaman curry
  4. chicken pad thai
  5. pandan creme brulee x 3

The food came to us fairly quickly, and was served up with a beautiful steaming pot of jasmine rice. We accompanied our food with the classic coconut water ofc, served up right in a coconut. It really can’t get better than that in my opinion. The first thing i notice about food is the smell and boy did everything smell fabulous. First thing to reach us was the roast red duck curry and it looked and smelt divine.

IMG-20160204-WA0006

The first, and last time before this, that I had eaten duck… I honestly didn’t enjoy it. it was chewy and little odd tasting to me. So obviously I was a bit apprehensive to try this one, but alas… the bestie knows best! Her choice did not dissapoint! Now at first glance the serving size seemed really small… it is comfortably enough for one person. The plate itself was gorgeous, and you can see the beautiful roasted pieces of duck floating in the curry. The duck was cooked perfectly, with a light crispy skin and nutty meat. The curry was fairly mild but the green peppercorn (lol see what they did there?) and chili pieces packed some fire to the bowl. I definitely recommend this dish πŸ™‚

IMG-20160204-WA0007

Oh the papaya salad was stunning. It was light, and spicy, and sour and sweet all at the same time. How does that even happen!? The dressing was truly fabulous. I mean that was the real star of this dish… like good enough to spoon out and drink it alone. I don’t ask condone doing that. The dressing is quite spicy. It will clean out your sinus completely.Β Back on track. The salad. Get it. Because it is scrumptious and is a great way to compliment the creamy curries. My goodness… my mouth just filled up with saliva just thinking about it.

IMG-20160204-WA0004

The lamb massaman curry was another stellar dish. It was just so hearty and wholesome! This curry I thought was on the heavier side, and I definitely couldn’t finish it alone. I’m always a little worried with Lamb because it really does have to be cooked just right. Boy was this was perfect. The meat literally fell off the bone and my friends were left to contemplate whether or not they were going to tackle the marrow too. The meat was flavorsome and succulent, and the curry was lightly spicy but truly delicious. Another one to add to the recommendation list for sure!

As far as pad thai goes… I didn’t think this one really bought anything new to the table. At $12.90 I guess I expected something a litttttle better than the regular take out style ones, but I personally didn’t note much of a difference. On that note, it was still a really good bowl of noodles. Would I have it again there? Probably not… I think you are much better off trying something you wouldn’t find on a regular take out menu there – it will be worth the bucks.

IMG-20160204-WA0003.jpg

Now finally to the dessert. Oh blimey this dessert. I had dreams of this dessert. I still have dreams of this pandan, caramelly, coconutty creme brulee. The crack was perfect, the dish was delish, the taste was honestly heavenly. Even if you only go there for dessert… just get this. It is worth it. I want to go back just for this dessert. Back to the serious stuff. Size wise I think it’s a little too big for one person, as the boys realised after it came out, and is a perfect little dish to share between two. Its not too sweet, which is fabulous, and the coconut is not overpowering at all. In fact the coconut tastes real, and not synthetic like a lottt of coconut desserts nowadays.

And ofc… we forgot to take a photo of dessert -_-

I must add a note about the service. I wouldn’t call it fantastic, but it is decent enough for the evening. I felt like they took a little too long to come around to our table to take the order, but were in more of a hurry to clear the table away. Not sure if I liked that… but I thought I may as well mention it. One thing I did LOVE though was the fact that the general manager of the restaurant – the attractive bearded man roaming around the restaurant πŸ˜› – would go around to every single table to hear their thoughts on the food and offer up some light and funny conversation. He came around to us twice with something funny to say which I think was really quite great.

IMG-20160204-WA0010

Now to the ranking:

Food: 9/10

Perhaps even a full score… but I think the Pad Thai let it down.

Service: 7/10

I loved how the general manager came to us, but otherwise the service is really quite average

Ambiance: 10/10Β 

Green Peppercorn has really nailed this. The bar is fantastic and everyone was just so happy and casual which is great to see.

Originality: 9.5/10

The half point is only because of the fact that there was nothing new to the pad thai, but otherwise the expansive menu is truly original and truly wonderful.

Overall: 8.875 (to be exact) Β /10 (haha)Β 

okay 9/10 πŸ˜€

Yay food. Let me know what you think once you’ve visited this place! I would love to see if you thought different πŸ˜€

 

 

 

Review: Silverspoon Vietnamese

(featured image from Zomato!)

Silverspoon Vietnamese Street Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

So for a fun monthly meet up the gang decided to try out Vietnamese food. We’ve done the thai (a bit too many times), the korean (though we love it so much), and the Japanese (ramen of course!). It made sense to go for viet food! And I do not mean banh mi no matter how amazing those rolls of deliciousness are.

Before I even begin this review, I must apologise! We all got so caught up in eating… that we totally forgot to take photos of the meals! I have a few but I will add some more from my online sources *cough* zomato *cough* .

Tucked away on Castlereagh sweet, on the quiet side I might add, the restaurant boasts a beautiful entrance and store front. It’s the kind that isn’t flashy but is nice and noticeable. The interiors are simple and actually really warm. There is a romantic vibe to the restaurant, not so much to make you awkward with friends, but enough to give your meals an intimate feel. The seating is ample, and most importantly well spaced out. I absolutely detest restaurants that are overly cramped. (Now I should note we did go on a Wednesday night… so the restaurant was a little bit empty -_-)

8797f58624f36abfda14529e4af7e6e5.jpg
Image from Zomato!

What I found really impressive?Β The menu! It’s substantial with a really good variety of items, though lacking in the vegetarian department. I’d personally stayed away from vietnamese cuisine because of the beef based broths used, but Silverspoon offered a bunch of alternatives. The section for street food was fun, with a range of exotic flavours and meats, while incorporating the classics too – yup they do have banh mi and sweet and sour pork.

Now to the service. This I would normally add after discussing the food… but seriously, the service was amazing. Our waiter hardly spoke English but he made the biggest effort to offer us our table water, drinks, and help us through the menu to give us his personal opinion of the good food πŸ™‚ Honestly, he was just the sweetest.

Now to the food, many thanks to the waiter for helping us select!

We opened the night with some lotus tea for two, lemon lime bitters and coca cola with cute Crispy Wontons along with Goi Ngo Sen – Lotus shoot salad. The Wontons were super crispy and the little packages were packed with just enough filling and flavour. Accompanied with some fish sauce (which wasn’t as pungent as the one we would buy at the super market… it was a lot lighter!) and sweet chili sauce… oh and hot chili slices of course. At face value, I would say that the entree was rather small… but I found the quantity of food we bought to actually be perfect for the group of 5 πŸ™‚ The salad was a star for me.

IMG-20160117-WA0015

Served with some prawn crackers, the fresh salad was packed with flavour! The prawns were cooked perfectly and were wonderfully tender. The dressing that went over it just made them even more amazing. I’m not usually a fan of steamed any meat other than fish… but everyone agreed that the pork was moist and tender and basically just fell apart in your mouth. Definitely recommend the salad to share!

IMG-20160117-WA0016

Oh I should talk about the lotus tea! WARNING: ONLY PURCHASE IF YOU ARE AN AVID TEA DRINKER. I’m being 100% serious that this didn’t go down well with everyone. I liked the nutty and mildly floral tones, that sort of gave me the slightest hint of licorice right at the end. Not for everyone… Β but if you are feeling a little adventurous… go for it πŸ™‚

IMG-20160117-WA0008

The mains… were fabulously substantial! The rice servings are included in the price of each meal which is great. We ordered…. (I’m going to list these)

  1. Thit Kho – caramelised pork
  2. Heo chua ngot – sweet and sour pork (of course!)
  3. Heo xa ot – Lemongrass pork
  4. Ga xao tieu den – pepper chicken
  5. Ga xao hat dieu – cashew nut chicken

The highlight of it all… honestly the sweet and sour pork and the pepper chicken.

To deconstruct every meal though… the caramelised pork was incredibly dense and well… meaty. The broth was actually fabulous to pour over the rice to accompany the other drier dishes. The meat was incredibly tender, and basically melted away. What was great? The meal wasn’t salty! What was no so great? I think I like more veggies, or something to give a little bit of texture to the meal.

IMG-20160117-WA0011

The biggest disappointment of the night… the lemongrass pork. Unfortunately it was a little over cooked. The flavours were there, and there was depth in texture, but the over done meat basically killed the other flavours. The meat was dry and chewy, and it sort of drew out the moisture from everything else. Okay that sounds a little scathing. Maybe on a different night it would be 1000 times better πŸ˜€

I liked the sweetness of cashew nut chicken, but it didn’t go well with everyone. The chicken was lovely and the meal was packed with veggies, which I loved. The meat lovers obviously wanted more chicken. The cashews provided the meal with some added crunch and texture. I would recommend this one for anyone that really cannot handle spicy food, and wants to play it fairly safe in terms of the food.

Pepper chicken was truly delish. I loved the warm taste of the pepper that wasn’t overdone at all. The chicken was tender and moist and went deliciously with the rice. I topped this one with the broth from the caramelised pork and it tasted even more amazing! yum yum yum. Can’t say more. Defs recommend this one!

Now to the sweet and sour pork. Most of us unanimously agreed that this was an equal stand-out. I mean how could you possibly go wrong with such a classic dish? And they do it so wonderfull πŸ™‚ The pork is crispy and sticky and accompanied with veggies that just add a pop of colour, pop of texture, and fun flavour. Obviously I recommend this to everyone.

IMG-20160117-WA0012

Average Rankings:

Service: 9.5/10 Food was bought our in a timely manner!(the only downside was the struggle to understand our waiter!)

Ambiance: 9/10 (the restaurant was a little empty when we went)

Food: 8/10 There were true stand-outs in the pack, and the flavours were all bang on. Ofc we had one overcooked meal, but on a good day, even it would be a highlight meal.

Originality: 7.5/10 I like that the menu has street food elements, the well known banh mi and a wide range of foods, however I would love to see more vegetarian options and a few more dishes that are a little more unique and well… unheard of

Overall ranking: 8.5/10

Boop di boop. Everything was delish and I would definitely come back. It’s a sweet date place, and is operated by truly the sweetest people. I have to say that the ambiance and service were the true highlights of the overall experience.

πŸ˜€

 

 

 

 

Crispy Coconut Fish

For those that know me, they know just how much I absolutely love coconut. I love the flesh, the milk and the water. Every time I open up a can of coconut milk, and have some left over, I am always inspired to create and attempt new recipes using the wonderful ingredient.

The sweet taste of the milk is always so perfectly Β balanced with spice and lime in so many Indian and Thai recipes. It works so well in curry and puddings. One of my favourite recipes in fact is a yummy coconut rice pudding (kheer or payasum as it is known in Indian cooking). On that note… I’ll be publishing some yummy pudding recipes soon!!

DSC09088.JPG

This recipe took inspiration from Angel Prawns I ate at one of my favourite Thai restaurants. The prawns are covered in a delicious coconut topping and then fried to create a delicious crispy coconut crust over a superbly tender prawn meat. Now with Basa fillets in the house and coconut milk left over, I thought I would take a shot at making crispy coconut fish.

The prawns were fried, yes, however in an attempt to be a little healthier this summer, I decided to bake them. Do note that you can 100% fry this recipe (shallow or deep) and in fact would be a WHOLE lot quicker to make. By baking them I added about 20-30 mins to the cooking time, but hey… anything to keep that cholesterol low right?

DSC09082.JPG

Fish is such a great ingredient to stock up. Particularly lighter fish like Basa. It is relatively cheap, and you can very often find good quality frozen fillets too. Better yet, fish cooks super quickly making it perfect for those quick dinners for the family. Furthermore, fish is so wonderful for the body. It is high in omega 3 and protein and is so lean on the fat. Incorporating it into your diet will really do wonders for you and your family.

Now to the recipe.

crispy coconut fish.jpg

DSC09084.JPG

The end result of this fish… a house smelling like yummy coconut and lime. Honestly these two flavours together are just heaven πŸ™‚ . The desiccated coconut creates a really light and crispy coating over a truly tender fish. I served mine up with some spicy coconut black rice and quinoa (with some chia seeds) – watch this space for the recipe coming soon!!. Add some lime over the top, maybe serve it with a fresh salad – I would really suggest a fiery papaya salad. This recipe really just combines some simple basic flavours together and creates a fun alternative to boring dinners. You can really take this to another creative level by making these into fish fingers for the kids to take to lunch, or making fish, prawns and even some calamari with the same coating for nice seafood platter.