Saturday, 27 September 2014

Aria, Circular Quay

A few weekends ago I popped my fine dining-ginity and headed to Aria for my anniversary with the boy.  I can’t stress how excited I was to be dining at this two hatted restaurant, to the point where I’d check the menu regularly to see what I want to eat. I had a semi heart attack when I realised their menu changes often, so on the week of going, their pre-theatre menu changed and here I had to change my selection again.

I am so thankful that the weather was good to us, as we were still able to dress up without any wind or rain, though still cold at night.

Situated right next to the Opera House with an amazing view, the pre-theatre menu at Aria being at $89 for 3 courses, does not give less of an experience than going non pre-theatre (eating after 7 costs you an extra $40).

I love bread. Ok. I really love sourbread too. And I love butter. I’m ashamed as an almost graduate dietitian to say we ate all the Pepe Saya Butter – Seaweed & Salted . The sourdough & rye bread was goddamn good, super crusty and sour-y. I know normally people don’t eat the bread, but I would be happy to always eat this.

Our night started with the Amuse Bouche of a mini Cured Salmon & Cream Cheese Tart. Funnily enough, the boy didn’t know you could eat the tart and proceeded to scoop the salmon & cream cheese out.  With a super creamy texture and overall light taste from the salmon , it disappeared in a few bites - I was trying to savour it .

For the Entrée, the boy chose the Raw Hirasama Kingfish w/ Beetroot, Lime & Horseradish which was his favourite of the night with the refreshing lime kick and the freshness of the kingfish. I normally don’t like beetroot or horseradish, but my first and only bite of this was amazing that I wish I had ordered this myself.  Just the overall mouth feel was extremely satisfying, as well as the novelty of trying to dip the kingfish in the white bits of goodness. 

I opted for the Kurabuta Pork Belly w/ Apple, Swede & Hazelnuts. I love all nuts and pork belly goes extremely well with sweetness of the apple.  I didn’t know swede was similar to turnip, and I hate turnip but the dish worked so well I ate everything. Pork belly was extremely tender with the richness of the fat being adequate such that there was enough between each layer of meat without feeling like I was eating a layer of fat and without the guilty mind. The crunchy bits of the skin were still in tact , with extra sprinkled ontop.

Being a little more on the experimental side, the boy opted Cervena Venison Fillet & Crepinette cooked medium-rare w/ Japanese Pumpkin, Red Witlof with a generous drizzle of Pepper&Riberry Sauce.  I’m not a fan of bloody meats and I spent all night calling this Bambi. I had a slice of the edges as it was more cooked. Extremely soft and tasted similar to beef. The pumpkin puree (or what I think it was) was literally to die for and I usually don’t like pumpkin but I scraped every last bit of it .

The Steamed Bass Grouper w/ Spanner Crab, Coorong Pipis & Smoked Dulse was not on the pre theatre menu previously and the boy and I were ‘arguing’ over who got to try this. I win ! The fish was honestly cooked perfectly- very moist and flaky and still held together. The dulse (like red seaweed) was hidden underneath the fish & paired well though only needed a very small amount because of the saltiness so there was some left over in the end.

Dessert was my favourite of the night where I scooped out the Passionfruit Crumble Soufflé w/ Macadamia Nut Gelato until there was nothing left.

 Extremely soft and fluffy with the bits of crumble and macadamia giving it a delightful texture. It did get a little bit sour towards the end because there seemed to some type of coulis/syrup that was unexpected though this was a stunner for me . My new favourite soufflé!

The boy’s Valrhona Chocolate Ganache was quite rich and smooth where the acidity of the raspberries contrasted to that. The Warm Chocolate Doughnuts were parcels of chocolate essentially, which thankfully wasn’t too sweet. Because the boy isn’t a big dessert personal I ended up eating most of it.

Me being stuffed after eating double the dessert, still made room for the Petit Fours - Nut Tart, Chocolate Truffle, Macaron & Orange Nougat. I really don’t know what the jelly like cube is, but the taste is similar to Haw Flakes. What a pretty floral chocolate too! It would have been nice if someone explained what each one was though. 

A little strange that on the menu it stated that coffee/tea+petit fours were an extra $9.50, though we weren’t charged for this so not too sure how that works.

Overall I was extremely pleased with my experience at Aria from the harbour view to the amazing quality of the foods presented.  The service was also amazing where everyone was attentive and even were happy to write happy anniversary.  I love how you can choose from a variety of options, such that it satisfies everyone and the updating menu makes you want to go sooner incase your favourite menu item is taken off !

Aria on Urbanspoon

Friday, 19 September 2014

Bondi Pizza, Parramatta

Whilst the first Bondi Pizza opened up in Bondi , I’ve never actually been there. If I were to organise a dinner, it’s initially a little hard to explain “ We’ll meet at Bondi Pizza Parramatta”.

I assure you there will be instance where someone goes to Bondi and not Parramatta.

Situated on the hustle and bustle of Church Street, Bondi Pizza in Parramatta has been open since 2013 , correct me if I’m wrong and is my “go to place” for affordable pizza & signature salads – don’t judge.

With a spacious environment, I’ve thankfully never had to wait for a table, or maybe I have dinner really early. There’s always a lot of people though. I find the ambience very inviting, with the cute booths and pretty lights but that’s what attract me to where I want to eat. 

Their Bondi Meat Supreme Classic Pizza is always the boy’s choice – packed full of pepperoni, wagyu meatballs, premium leg ham, pancetta, balsamic onions & mushroom on BBQ Mayo.  Seriously not kidding at the meat mountain on this thin crispy base with the rocket sprinkled ontop to make you feel a little better. 

Serving size is enough for a not so hungry man (12”), hence can be a little small, but it’s a perfect size for me.  Whilst I gobble down the first few slices easily, I find it a little too salty towards the end.

Bondi Meat Supreme - $25.95

On the occasion where we decided to ‘step out of out comfort zone’ we tried the Chilli Prawn & Chorizo Signature Pizza.  Along with the prawns & chorizo, the sweetness of the roasted capsicum and the tartness of the cherry tomatoes helped to cut through the saltiness of the pizza with buffalo mozzarella being super squishy. We opt out for the coriander as the boy and I have issues with it ..

Chilli Prawn & Chorizo - $25.95

To balance this out , I always get their Grilled Atlantic Salmon Salad. Their salmon serve is extremely generous – except for this one time where I think they only gave me half the serve accidentally.  I am in love with their creamy fetta, and the other toppings of capers, cherry tomatoes, avocado, cucumbers & beetroot are a lot more than just your standard salad.  I opt not to include the olives though.  Dressed in white balsamic vinaigrette and a side of Caesar salad, it’s a scrumptious salad to go for.

Grilled Atlantic Salmon Salad -  $23.95

There was only ONE time where I chose not to get this and decided to try their Grilled Chilli Prawn Salad which presented a real chilli kick for me, especially when served with a Chilli Mayo. Pretty sure I was panting towards the end and downed down a glass or two. The base of the salad is exactly the same as the grilled salmon but at the end of the day, I still think the Salmon Salad  is more worth the money.  Cannot stress how good the fetta is – I think I get the salad just for the fetta.

Grilled Chilli Prawn Salad - $23.95

On one occasion we tried the Kids Menu, designed for <12 children at reasonable prices . The Meatball Linguini is a smaller version of their main size based in tomato sauce w/ parmesan cheese. Unfortunately I’m not too fond on this as I find the pasta very bland and the pasta texture isn’t too my liking.  However, when mixing in the fetta (yay) from a salad it’s not too bad, though I wouldn’t order it again.

Kids Meatball Linguine - $9.95

Despite out 5+ visit to Bondi Pizza, we can’t go past the Bondi Meat Supreme Classic Pizza and the Grilled Atlantic Salmon Salad which is an perfect amount for 2 . Though the pizza is a little salty for my liking, eating it with the salad , which IS filling makes a not so healthy meal slightly more healthy . They do have more funky toppings such as Peking Duck which I have never seen anywhere but I’m still hesitant on trying that. Maybe next time. Oh and people have said their desserts are to die for ... I should try them too. Cinnamon scroll mmm ..

So to you all, have you ever been to Bondi Pizza ? If so, what do you normally get ? I really need to expand out of these two foods I always get, but it’s so good that I don’t want to move away from these ! Once again, I love anywhere that has a menu to check out so have a look here if you're not into salads or pizzas. 

Bondi Pizza Parramatta on Urbanspoon

PS : I got emailed this where for any single main you order, you can receive a free Signature Salad (Normally ~$25). I've used this a few times and so have my friends so here it is for you guys as well! If you sign up to be a V.I.P (for free) they have all these goodies to try as well and it only takes 1 minute ! They might ask you to show it in your email ... I guess you can say you deleted it .. if not please email me so I can forward you the email. (