Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Type: Sparkling White
Origin: Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia
Approx Cost: $30

So, the old ZD, one of the last sparkling Chandon’s to try. I cracked the crown seal and poured. As like most other Chandon wines, this looks technically good with a good mousse and bead. Dry and sharp. Hints of metal and very subtle fruit.

I was a tad disappointed by this, but a lot of that has to do with the fact that I prefer sweeter wines and this has almost none. If I was serving rich seafood, I ‘d go this in a second.


WINE: HOLLICK Sparkling Merlot 2004

Type: Sparkling Red
Origin: Coonawarra, South Australia, Australia
Approx Cost: $25

I’ve been getting into the sparkling reds lately and finding that I’m developing a taste for them.

The first thing that surprises me about this is the way it pours. A fantastic bead for a sparkling red. Aroma of earth, grass and unripe plums. What a taste! Creamy berry flavours and a surprisingly dry finish. A real experience.

I don’t think this bottle is quite done yet though. In a few years I think I’d love this wine. Now, it’s just quite good.


Sunday, January 28, 2007

WINE: COLDSTREAM HILLS Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir 1999

Type: Sparkling White
Origin: Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia
Approx Cost: $25

I’d heard good things about this wine from James Halliday-founded Coldstream Hills, so I was looking forward to trying it. The first glass didn’t impress me, but I’m glad I went back for more. Mousse and bead are heavy and don’t last long; deep gold in colour; some very interesting flavours; the high acidity works well with the ripe, aged flavours, resulting in a crisp and refreshing drink; finish is nothing special.

Not bad. Better wines for the price. Apparently they make a good pinot noir, which I wouldn’t mind trying.


Friday, January 26, 2007

WINE: TOSTI Moscato d’Asti NV

Type: Sparkling White Dessert Wine
Approx Cost: $20

I’ve only had a couple of Italian dessert wines so I may not be the expert here, but I do enjoy this drop quite a lot. Easy to drink, deliciously sweet and a wonderful aroma. The bubbles are large but delicate. It makes me want to throw a dinner party with a fruity dessert. It certainly compliments the jelly beans I’m munching on. It lacks a little refinement, but very enjoyable.



Type: Lebanese
Location: 47 Burwood Rd, Burwood, Sydney
Booking Required: Sometimes.

I’ve been here a couple of times recently since it’s one of the few decent non-Asian places to eat near work. Impressed both times. The food is well priced and the servings are massive. I can put away a lot of food but both times I’ve been unable to clean the plate. The Golden Vege wasn’t bad but the Shish d’Or was great, even if some of the meat was a tad dry. Service hasn’t been bad but can be improved.

I can see why this is such a favourite for farewell lunches at work. $20 and you're stuffed.

RATING: Will return to

Cafe D'Or on Urbanspoon

RESTAURANT: Heritage Belgian Beer Café

Type: Belgian
Location: 129-135 Harring St, The Rocks, Sydney
Booking Required: Usually.

It’s noisy, crowded and the beers appear expensive. But if you can get past that, then you’ll enjoy this place. I’ve been roughly half a dozen times and enjoyed each time. I’ve seen a lot of other reviews that slam the service of this place, but it’s never been too bad for me. Yes, it could sometimes be improved but never anything worth complaining about. The mussels are the highlight of the menu and despite the other tempting choices I usually give them a go. If you’re a pork fan then definitely book ahead and order the suckling pig. With a huge pile of mashed potato and sauerkraut next to it, it’s a massive meal and completely delicious. The desserts are all incredibly rich but equally tempting.

The beers deserve a paragraph of their own. Since I first went I’ve been obsessed with Belgian beers and rarely buy anything else. The Rochefort 10 is incredible. Also notable mentions to the Gouden Carolous, Chimay Blue and the apple beer. Yes, the beers are pricey ($10-$12) but at twice the strength and, usually, twice the taste of a normal beer, it’s definitely worth it.

Not a cheap night, but always an enjoyable one once the beer starts flowing and the mussels are downed.

RATING: Will return to.

Heritage Belgian Beer Cafe on Urbanspoon


Type: Champagne
Origin: France
Approx Cost: $45

Impressive mousse and bead. Straw gold. Very fruity and sweet. Hard to make out the fruits. Maybe strawberry, peach. Creamy and rich. It’s a different type of wine to a Moet or a Bollinger but I don’t mind it at all. Quite a good NV and not bad value for a Champagne, really. Still, I don’t know if I’d go back to this again if there were other choices on a wine menu. Can't see myself buying at a bottle-o.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

WINE: CLOUDY BAY Pelorus 2001

Type: Sparkling White
Origin: NZ
Approx Cost: $35

I think I’m coming to realise that I don’t like large quantities of pinot noir in sparkling wines. I dunno. This wine was okay. Apparently one of New Zealand’s best but I wasn’t really feeling it. Average mousse, good bead, tastes of citrus, rich, creamy, etc. Not for me.



Saturday, January 20, 2007

WINE: MAJELLA Sparkling Shiraz 2004

Type: Sparkling Red
Origin: Coonawarra, SA, Australia
Approx Cost: $35

Of all the wines that Australia produces, the shiraz and sparkling shiraz have to be up with the world’s best. Majella have absolutely killed it with their sparkling shiraz. Barrel fermented for a while before some liqueur is added for sweetness, they have created an excellently balanced wine. The fine bead disappears quickly and releases the aroma. From the first sip I’m loving it. Plum, over-ripe berries and a touch of aniseed. A good finish and I reach for the bottle to pour more.

Still young as well, this would taste great in another 5 years. I really need to get a cellar happening.


RESTAURANT: Malay Chinese Take Away

Type: Malaysian/Chinese
Location: 50-58 Hunter St, Sydney
Booking Required: No.

Probably the best laksas in the city. The menu and specials always look great but every time I go I always try a different laksa. Delicious and good value.

They have recently moved from a stuffy basement in Castlereagh St and the change has done them well, despite the sad loss of fish tanks. The place is a lot more pleasant to eat in. Still has a food court feel, but who cares when the laksas are this good.

RATING: Will return to

Malay Chinese Takeaway on Urbanspoon


Type: Champagne
Origin: France
Approx Cost: $70

A girl who likes apples will enjoy this. I liked it a bit. Technically a good wine, tastes good enough. I’m a big fan of Moet so maybe I expected a lot, but this disappointed me a little. I mean, it was good, but, yeah. Lacking that wow factor.

It’s like going on a boring ride at a really really exciting theme park.



Type: Champagne
Origin: France
Approx Cost: $35

This wine has always worried me. The label looks like rubbish and the grapes are apparently Lanson offcuts. But, trapped in a crappy bottle shop with nothing else appealing, I decided to give it a go. After all, it had garnered some praise as a good-value wine.

Regretted it. The wine is passable, taste-wise, but that’s about it. It’s Frances answer to the bottom of the range Seppelts and Wolf Blass’. For the price I could get 2 or 3 wines that are all better.


RESTAURANT: Capitan Torres

Type: Spanish
Location: 73 Liverpool St, Sydney
Booking Required: Sometimes

I'll sum it up like this:
  • The food isn't as good as Encasa or Kiki but it is better than Casa Asturiana.
  • The service is average.
  • The sangria is stronger than the other places.
  • They don't have a long tapas menu like other places. Indeed, if you go to the restaurant they don't have any tapas.
  • It is one of the more expensive establishments.
  • Great paella.

RATING: Okay, may go back

Capitan Torres on Urbanspoon

RESTAURANT: Casa Asturiana

Type: Spanish
Location: 77 Liverpool St, Sydney
Booking Required: Fridays/Saturdays maybe.

I don't know what to make of this place. I've been there twice and enjoyed both times, but it has its limitations. The food isn't as good as some other Spanish places and the service can be hit and miss. But I suppose the sangria is great and the value is good.

A lot of tapas dishes to choose from and Spanish dancers on Friday and Saturday nights. Upstairs and near the front are good locations but the back is a tad stuffy.

RATING: Okay, may go back

Casa Asturiana on Urbanspoon

WINE: VEUVE CLICQUOT La Grande Dame 1996

Type: Champagne
Origin: France
Approx Cost: $225

‘96 is very quickly gathering a reputation as one of the best vintages for Champagne in a very long time and Veuve has always interested me, so I decided that this bottle would be worthy as my headline bottle for New Years.

Pours very well with a fine, persistent bead. Yes, this will be good. Gold straw with hints of green. Into the mouth and I’m hit with the apricot, peach, stone fruits. Absolutely delicious. It still tastes a little young though. Finish goes on forever.

Very good. Great way to start the year.


Sunday, January 07, 2007

RESTAURANT: Zest take two

Type: Modern Australian
Location: City Tattersalls club, 202 Pitt St, Sydney
Booking Required: Sometimes.

The Zest restaurant was selected as the venue for a Christmas party at work. About 9 days prior to the Christmas party, a menu was distributed to invitees, which portrayed a wide variety (perhaps too wide) of what initially appeared to be tasteful & exotic dishes. So I figured I'd invite Jobe along before hand to see what kind of experience Zest had in store for our Christmas party.

The 1st visit: Jobe has posted a comprehensive summary of our visit in his post on December 16th, but here are some highlights of a perfect display of stupendously substandard service:

* Requested booking in the early afternoon via telephone, arrived to find no booking had been taken.

* Slightly disgruntled response to water being asked for prior to ordering, which was followed by a rapid recovery and a question of "Sparkling or Still".

* A bottle of Yarrabank Cuvee ordered, one would expect to receive a nicely chilled bottle with glasses poured and contents tested and enjoyed, prior to entree being served. In this case, bottle was provided after entrees were consumed. To add insult to injury, the Cuvee was still well above the recommended serving temperature level for Sparkling wine and was also half flat, due to an attempted (failed) rapid chilling process.

* I'd recommend Zest hire's some waitresses that can pour sparkling wine without spilling a glass worth in the attempt.

A very poor performance all-round on the service front, however I considered it may be possible to get better service with a larger group of people (more profit), so I decided to re-evaluate when I returned for the work Christmas party.

1st RATING: Forced to return to - will re-evaluate open-mindedly

2nd Visit: Arrived on time, the same waiter was on duty, and apparently did not remember me from the previous week (I wasn't expecting him to of course - but I was trying to be optimistic !).

The evening started with "Set Menus" being placed before each attendee. The set menu had a small variety of choices for each of Entree, Main and Dessert. A couple of the guests did not like any of the items on the set menu and politely asked if they could order from the A-la-carte menu. This initiated a woeful warfare of words between the waiter and the organiser of the Christmas party.

Organiser: "We'd like to order from the A-la-Carte menu if we could please".

Waiter: "When you made your booking we were expecting 15 people to order 3 courses from the set menu".

Organiser: "As you can see, only 9 people have arrived for the evening, , and you don't appear to be very busy tonight, could we please order from the A-la-Carte menu?".

Waiter: "When you made your booking.....(repeats previous argument with different wording)

Another guest: "Thank you, we understand that, but as there are limited choices on the Set menu, we would like to order one or two items from the A-la-Carte menu.."

Waiter: ".....(Clearly angry which is definitely unwarranted since it was a fair request) okay I will speak to the Chef and see what we can do"

Waiter: "(Waiter returns after taking a very interesting route to the kitchen...) No, you can only order from the Set menu...(Walks away)"

10 Minutes later, a group of 20 people who made a booking walk in and make their order from the A-la-Carte menu...

I have a feeling the Chef would do much better with different management/service staff as I actually enjoyed the dishes ordered on both visits, however the poor service and poor attitude of service staff made for an overwhelmingly poor overall experience.

2nd and final RATING: Will never return to