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 http://www.cosmopolitancafe.com.au/images/mainMenu.pdf

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.   

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