Sunday, July 21, 2013

Revolution Foods Cafe

Revolution Foods.  My first thought when I heard the name of this new café in Newtown was that it is a fantastic descriptor of the menu.  What is more revolutionary than veganism and the plant-based foods that form a part of it?

I visited on Wednesday with the V Stars Sydney group where a special menu had been prepared for us by the vibrant owner Brandy.  In addition to the main menu, we could order from a choice of shepherd’s pie, calamari and a burger.  The café is located in the shop that was vacated by Spoon’s Vegetarian earlier this year.  It has been redecorated with the whimsical touch of classical paintings ‘enhanced’ with vegetables.  Here is the Mona Lisa with beetroot!

Choosing just one dish from the all-vegan menu was a tough choice.  The menu includes smoothies, sandwiches, nachos, bruschetta and fantastic thick-cut chips. I was very keen to try the shepherd’s pie as it is the quintessential winter dish, but I was very curious as to what the calamari was like as I had never tasted any vegan versions before. Curiosity won me over, and I tried the calamari not just for myself but for my sister who was an avid seafood lover before she switched to a vegan diet.

The calamari dish was loaded up with a garden salad and a serving of lime mayonnaise.  I would have hope for a larger serving of the calamari as it did fall on the small side.  While the calamari rings were small compared to the marine version, the texture and taste were very close to what I remember.  The large caveat being that it has been over 15 years since I last tasted the marine version so my comparison is probably not the most reliable. Putting the comparison aside, it was a very tasty dish.

There was a good range of cakes, slices and cupcakes for dessert baked by the local heroes Vegan’s Choice and Mad hatter cupcakery.  I chose a slice of the peanut butter and chocolate raw cheesecake.  The flavour and texture were good but I would have preferred it to be a little sweeter.  I have a big sweet tooth though, so it should be fine for those who prefer their sweets on the less sickly-sweet side.

I didn’t try the vanilla slice but here is a picture of my neighbour’s serving. The slice received varying reactions from being better than the non-vegan version to being OK.  A few agreed that it would have been better with the addition of passionfruit.

Apart from the café menu, there is a small selection of vegan goodies available such as liquid smoke, some cheeses and seasonings.

Overall, this café is a great addition to the already vibrant vegan scene of Newtown.

Revolution Foods Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 1, 2013

Mamak Restuarant (Chinatown)

As expected, when I arrived at the Mamak restaurant several minutes before opening time at 11.30am on Sunday there was a queue to join.  This queue was there not because there was a lack of food outlets in the vicinity.  Chinatown is just a stone’s throw away as well as the many other restaurants on the same street, so I presumed that there must be some very worthwhile food inside. 
The décor inside is very basic and reminds me of a fast food restaurant with many tables aligned in rows under fluorescent lighting.  The service is very quick and efficient with wait times of only a few minutes for food to arrive.
The restaurant had advised me that there were dishes that could be veganised such as Nasi Lemak, Kangkung Belacan and Nasi Goreng.  However, I should talk to the staff on the day.
I decided to order the Nasi Lemak and advised the waitress that I did not want the sambal (sauce that contained fish), anchovies or egg and that they should be replaced with vegan options.  The waitress’ English was limited so it took a little while to convey this.

My dish was brought out a little while later and I asked the waitress “Is that it?” when I saw it. It was rice, peanuts and some chopped up cucumber.  I was very disappointed as they had not veganised the dish, just removed the offending non-vegan items.  Another waitress who had earlier proved helpful asked if I would like a sauce or curry to go with it and I replied that I would.  I expected this would replace the missing items, but I was charged extra on top of the regular price for the dish. 
The coconut rice was lovely, but the overall meal was nothing spectacular.  It was the type of fare you could find in any food court across the city.

So as not to base my opinion on just one dish I ordered a dessert even though I was fairly full.  I order the Ais Kacang which is a dish made of coconut milk, shaved ice and some grass-green noodles.  Although this one tasted fine (again, nothing special) I was slightly put off by fishing around for extremely green noodles in a sea of creamy-coloured liquid. 

Overall, I was very underwhelmed. This is one restaurant I wouldn’t recommend going back to because as I said above, you will find dozens of restaurants and takeaway shops with similar offerings without the waiting lines. 

Mamak on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 21, 2013

Dish Pizza Gelato

I visited this local restaurant in Double Bay fairly early on Saturday evening.  It wasn’t very busy around 6pm but it began to fill with families in the indoor and plentiful outdoor seating.

I confirmed with the restaurant beforehand that all the pastas and pizza bases are vegan so that leaves a very big scope of dishes to choose from.

For the entrée I ordered the dish roast eggplant dip with crisp bread.  It was very delicious – whilst it took the edge off being hungry, it didn’t leave me that full that I didn’t feel like a main afterwards as sometimes happens to me!

For the main, I had the spaghettini with roma tomato, garlic, basil and Napoli sauce.  There was nothing remarkable about this dish, but I always enjoy a good basic pasta on any given day.
The staff were very attentive and willing to be helpful so overall, it was a very pleasant atmosphere.

The vegan (or veganisable) dishes available are:

Starters and Sharing

  • Dish hummus with crisp bread
  • Dish roast eggplant dip with crisp bread
  • Bowl of marinated olives with grissini (ask for the white anchovies to be removed)
  • Traditional tomato bruschetta

  • Pear and Walnut (without the parmesan)
  • Roast Pumpkin and Charred Zucchini (without the goasts cheese)
  • Roast beetroot and Roast red Onion (without the feta and yoghurt dressing)

  • Spaghettini with roma tomato, garlic, basil and napoli sauce
  • Penne with roast eggplant ragu and pine nuts (without the feta)
  • Spiced Eggplant Ragu
  • Shoestring fries (without aioli)
  • Green beans with extra olive oil and lemon

The restaurant is located in 5a/19-27 Cross St  Double Bay NSW 2028 which is just next to the lovely Oscar’s bookshop.
Dish Pizza Gelato on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Casa Asturiana

Casa Asturiana is a Spanish restaurant my family and I have enjoyed going to for many years.  It has good, down-to-earth Spanish food that is flavourful and unpretentious.  It is food that would be served in any bar in the city or 'pueblo' in Spain.

I always, always order the Spanish Salad for the incredibly delicious sauce.  There have been many conversations had specualting over the ingredients with consensus being that it contains capsicum, olive oil and garlic.

The menu has a good range of tapas and on this evening as I was in a rush to make it to a movie on time, I only had one, which was the Patatas Bravas (Spicy Potatos).  The tapas servings are generous so was quite filling.

There is plenty of room at the restaurant so no need to book ahead.  There are many times a group of us have dropped in and there's always been room even for a group.  

For a Spanish restaurant, the menu is very vegan friendly with the following items available:

  • Marinated Olives
  • Grilled Mushrooms with garlic and parsley
  • Spicy Potatoes
  • Roasted red peppers
  • Spanish salad (I highly recommend this)
  • Garden salad
  • Vegetarian paella (although I would suggest confirming the stock used on the day)
  • Strawberries with vanilla-flavoured liqueur
  • Casadiellas - Ground walnuts, cinnamon, lemon zest and aniseed liqueur wrapped in filo pastry and dusted with icing sugar. 
The restaurant in located in Liverpool Street in the Spanish Quarter. 

Casa Asturiana on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cosmopolitan Cafe - Double Bay

The Cosmopolitan Café in Double Bay recently reopened after some renovations in the Cosmopolitan Centre.   I have been there before and to be honest, could not see a noticeable difference in the setup or menu.  There was now a large grand piano which I can’t remember if it was there previously, however it was a nice way to start the day - breakfast with piano music.
As I looked over the menu, I really wanted a nice big cooked breakfast.  As soon as I spotted the hash browns, my mind was set that I needed to have them so I enquired as to whether they were vegan.  I was told that they were cooked in vegetable oil, however it would be up to me to decide whether they were vegan or not.  This was an unfortunately unhelpful answer as with such vague information I had no choice but to turn them down.  Very regretfully.  However, I have since had it verified that the hash browns are indeed vegan.  Next time!
I ended up having the mushrooms on toast with grilled tomato and a soy mocha.  The dish was lovely but should be more accurately called champignons with toast. 

The lunch and dinner menus do not offer a good variety of choices, however there is a lot of scope for breakfast.
Vegan Items on the Menu:
·         Greek Salad (if fetta is removed)
·         Garden Salad
·         Steamed vegetables
·         Marinated Olives
·         Bruschetta Pomodoro (Toasted bread with garlic, tomato, onion and basil)
·         Freshly Cut Fruit Salad
·         Banana Porridge (if made with soy milk)
·         Mushroom on Toast with grilled Tomato
·         Raisin Toast
·         Cinnamon Toast
·         Various types of toast (white, wholemeal, turkish, sourdough, rye)  with jam accompaniments.  Extras can include avocado, mushroom, tomato, hash browns and baked beans. 
·         Variety of hot drinks including coffees, Twinings teas, green teas, Chinese herbal teas.
·         Freshly squeezed and bottled juices
There are possibly more items but I have not been able to verify if they are vegan.  Please feel free to check the menu at

Cosmopolitan Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 20, 2013

L'Espresso Double Bay

I should title this review “A Comedy of Errors” because ordering at L’Espresso Café was not straightforward for a first time visitor such as myself. The café itself is tucked at the back of a lane with a small counter on one side and some tables arranged within an alcove on the other which gives it a cosy feel. 
I had heard the café had a Vietnamese flair, so my interest was piqued as to what food offerings would be available.  As I viewed what was available at the counter, the server asked if I would be interested in a bacon and egg roll.  I replied no, and explained about being vegan.  The manager replied that I could have a rice paper roll.  I have to admit, that a cold spring roll was not what I was looking for on a Sunday morning, but I would give it a go anyway because nothing else looked suitable.  Spring roll with a soy mocha – I steeled myself.
As I walked to my table, I noticed a breakfast menu taped to the wall that contained many more options than what was available at the counter.  Why had they not told me of this! More importantly, why is the breakfast menu not on view at the counter? I went back and told them to put my spring roll in a takeaway container and I would have one of the toast options that came with spinach and mushrooms.  Things were looking up!
When my plate came out, it was missing the avocado as listed in the menu.  As I had not stated ALL the ingredients they had only included the ones I did mention.  So I was brought some avocado slices as a side dish.
Although the presentation was uninspiring, the food was actually quite good.  The mushrooms were tasty and moist and the spinach flavourful.  Coffee was good as well.
Although the ordering was a frustrating process, the staff were very polite throughout.  I am sitting halfway between liking and disliking this place, but I feel that on a return visit things would hopefully progress more smoothly. 

L"Espresso on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Din Tai Fung Restaurant

Din Tai Fung is not the kind of place you will easily stumble across if you are wandering around Sydney.  I had never come across the restaurant before because it is located within World Square at the far right after you climb some stairs – not a place for accidental thouroughfare!  It makes me wonder just how many more little corners have interesting surprises waiting to be discovered.  And an interesting place this restaurant certainly is.

As you approach the restaurant you are met with surgically-masked workers furiously working at making dumplings behind the glass walls. I spent a good few minutes watching them transfixed before approaching the reception desk. I was taken inside to a table and a waiter gave me a stand so I could tidily store away my handbag and bags.
The restaurant serves up Taiwanese food, specialising in xiaolongbao – small steamed buns.  I had called the restaurant beforehand to check what was vegan.  To ensure there was no  miscommunication, I was assured that none of the pastry or dough contains any dairy or eggs. 
I ordered the lychee mint juice which was incredibly refreshing and heavenly.  It is one of the best juices I have tasted, although may be on the sweet side for some. 

For the meal I ordered the cucumber salad as well as a serving of the vegetarian jiao zi which are dumplings containing a tasty vegetable filling. 

I asked about whether any of the ice-creams were dairy and egg-free and was told that no they were not, even the sorbets.  However, all the hot desserts are.  I ordered a hot bun with a taro filling that was a bit of a miss for me as it was not very sweet and a little bland for my liking.   

Whilst the menu does not contain a lot of vegan options, I would still recommend this place for those few tasty dishes that are.  It is a great atmosphere and a good place to go as a group or after a movie. 

Din Tai Fung on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Bourke Street Bakery

As you may have already guessed from my post about Simmone Logue, bread is one of my favourite foodie delights.  So it was with great anticipation that I headed to the iconic Bourke St Bakery in Surry Hills. I had checked beforehand what vegan products were available and was advised that all the sourdough breads were fine. 
The range of sourdoughs includes the standard and wholemeal as well as such variations as fig and cranberry, potato and rosemary, hazelnut and raisin and several others.   I could not decide what to choose so thought I’d have several different ones for a breakfast. 
It was the perfect autumn morning when I headed to the café on Sunday.  I do recommend the lovely streets of Surry Hills as a place that’s made for wandering when you don’t have any place you urgently wish to be. 
The café itself is set in a charming corner shop and decorated with a vintage flair.  It was crowded inside the small store but there was plenty of seating outside.  I went to place my order and was advised that toast is not served in the Surry Hills store.  It put such a full stop on my outing, because there was no other suitable food!   I tried to salvage my trek out there by ordering a takeaway mocha and a sourdough loaf. 
If I was rating the bakery, I would give it good marks because the bread was delicious and it has a very charming atmosphere with plenty of opportunity to people-watch.  However, I have to discount the café experience as, well, what can you do when there is not even one vegan option! In a bakery, of all places, I am surprised.   

Bourke Street Bakery on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 22, 2013

Simmone Logue Double Bay

I’m usually for trying different dishes when I go to restaurants and cafes. As they often say, variety is the spice of life! However, there are some places where I return to the same favourite meal every time. For me, one of those places is the local café Simmone Logue at Double Bay. They do one of my favourite breakfast dishes ever - the Grilled Field Mushrooms . I substitute avocado for the feta that comes standard with it and it turns into the most wondrous of flavour combinations. The odd time that I have ordered something else, I have sat there wishing I had ordered my beloved grilled mushrooms.

Although I order the same items off the menu each time, it is lovely to see the different interpretations taken by whoever is cooking. I like going to places where your dish will be one of a kind rather than one of many that looks like it is precision-tested off a production line. Sometimes my plate will have slices of avocado on the side and others it will be spread on the toast. Sometimes all the ingredients will be piled into one big sculpture and others they will all be neatly arranged separately so that I can eat them in the order and combination of my fancy. It is always a surprise. The other big draw of Simmon Logue is that they have the best sourdough bread in Sydney that I have tasted - bar none. The loaf has a firm crust, but not overly so, and inside is the softest ,fluffiest most wonderfully scented bread. It is perfect for toast, sandwiches or to eat alone as I often do when I pass my kitchen counter. Simmon Logue is located in Cross Street, Double Bay. There is indoor and outdoor seating and I recommend you arrive early as there is not a lot of it available. Once you finish your coffee and reading the paper, go browse the nearby shops which have an interesting and unique selection of books, gifts and homewares.

 Simmone Logue Fine Food on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 7, 2013


My sister and I had the delight of spending a rainy afternoon at Tetsuya’s last Saturday.   We chose to have the degustation menu, which consisted of ten different courses.  Little did we know what an unexpected treat we were in for. 
The heritage-listed restaurant premises are stylish but very low key.  The north side of the dining room is made up of glass windows that overlook a peaceful Japanese style garden including a little waterfall.  The atmosphere is very tranquil.
We were served throughout the meal by different waiters that explained each of the dishes before serving it.  They were knowledgeable, polite and most importantly, unobtrusive. 
This is a listing of the courses -
Chestnut Soup
Steamed Tofu Custard with Shiitake Mushroom
Terrine of Summer Vegetables
Smoked Ox-Heart Tomato with Aged Chardonnay Vinaigrette
Warm Autumn Vegetables with Konnyaku
Beetroot Risotto with Blood Orange Marmalade
Salt-Roasted Sweet Potato with Macadamia Cream and Spinach
Pickled King Oyster Mushroom with Polenta
Pear Sorbet (palate cleanser)
Apple Granita with Basil Jelly
Soy Chocolate Ice Cream with Compressed Strawberries
Petit Fours

Apart from the warm autumn vegetables and the petit fours, I have tasted nothing like the other dishes.  While the ingredients were familiar, they were combined in unique ways or in new textures that gave them a whole new life.  Take the humble tomato.  The Smoked Ox-Heart Tomato dish had layers and layers of compressed smoked tomato – it was so tender and flavourful that it hands-down my favourite.   The basil jelly also worked surprisingly well with the apple. 

If there is any gripe, and it is a small one, it is that I would have liked one of the desserts to be different from the ice-cream/sorbet type.  That, or I would have exchanged on of the savoury dishes for an additional dessert. 
But overall, I hope to visit again and see what other delicious and interesting ways this restuarant can prepare plant-based foods.

Tetsuya's on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 4, 2013


I had plenty of basil which means pesto! Instead of having it on the usual pasta I tried a recipe that teams it with a lemony and cheesy risotto.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Mississippi Mud Cake with Chilli Cherries

Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom and cloves are all spices I associate with colder-weather sweets.  However, in keeping with the theme of chilli, I decided to turn the heat up a little on a traditional dessert on the weekend.  The lure of chocolate was calling me and I made a Mississippi mudcake.  I would normally pair it with a creamy sauce made from coconut milk, but I had something more fruity on my mind as inspired by the Women's Weekly "Bake".
In a pan I simmered some water, sugar, orange peel, star anise and a red chilli.  I added some cherries I had in the freezer and let it all bubble away for some minutes. 

 I let everything sit overnight and the next day the sweet syrup had thickened and the hotness of the chilli had calmed down.  The pairing was divine.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Roasted Chilli Eggplant

There was a decided chill in the air this morning as I walked through the city.  I do believe that autumn has finally arrived which makes me very happy.  I am anticipating all the warming dishes and spices that will start to replace the fresher ingredients that have filled my kitchen this past summer. 
I recently made this dish – it is roasted eggplant stirfried with a home-made chilli dressing and topped with toasted coconut flakes.  It had a warm to mildly hot level of heat, which is just right for me.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Grape Fritters

Afternoon tea tastes so much more divine if served up with pretty accessories. Not that these grape fritters needed much adornment – these turned out much more flavourful than I expected. I topped these with fine sugar to add a little more sweetness.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Dark Chocolate

With Easter arriving in a couple of weeks, it was inspiration for me to finally visit a little shop I have walked past many times but never quite made it inside.  Vanderwee Chocolates is located in a laneway of Double Bay’s shopping village and right now it is decked out with colourful displays of bunnies and Easter eggs.
Upon entering the shop, I was met with an assortment of bon bons, pralines and truffles filled with all sorts of fruity and nutty blends. I asked the owner about which dark chocolates he would recommend and I was treated to an educational session about the world of chocolate.
Henrik and his wife Hilde opened the chocolate boutique in 1995, having come from a country that appreciates the art of fine chocolate-making – Belgium.  Whilst I would recommend visiting the store, for those that are time-pressed they offer a web order and delivery service.  The website is packed with information about chocolate and what makes a good product.
The quality of the chocolates was superb.  I bought several bonbons and truffles which were smooth and flavourful as well as a bar of 50% dark chocolate.  Let me tell you, these did not last long. 

If you would like more information about Vanderwee chocolates, visit 

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Crisp Salad

I had this salad for lunch recently. A fresh, crisp stack of thin apple, fennel and red onion slices, baby greens and Vegusto cheese. All drizzled with a mustard vinaigrette - simple but very tasty

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Remnants of Summer

The last of the summer fruits will linger for a little while in this crisp autumn air - I thought I would celebrate this crossover of seasons by making these raspberry caramel tarts. They are perfectly accompanied with a cream that is blended with finely grated orange rind.