UE Noodle Restaurant, Cabramatta 

I love adventuring around Sydney for good food. A few friends and I wanted to check out the fabric shops in Cabramatta to help inspire some ongoing craft projects so we decided to kill two birds with one stone and grab a delicious Vietnamese lunch too. 

Based off the recommendation of a friend, we ended up at UE Noodle Restaurant. Just off of John street, it’s known for its tasty duck noodle soup….and tasty it was! 


With a menu consisting of only five items – pork mince noodle soup, pork slice noodle soup, duck leg noodle soup, chicken breast noodle soup and beef brisket noodle soup…. You are pretty much guaranteed to be eating noodle soup but with all your protein bases covered, you really can’t go wrong. Plus if you knew the place, you seemed to be able to request different types of noodles and free extra broth. 


The cherry on the cake – or in this case the fried shallot on my soup – was that upon ordering, we were served unlimited pots of green tea to drink and two plates fresh greens and bean sprouts to sprinkle liberally into our soups of choice. Boy do I love it when a meal comes with free stuff.

 
And what did we choose? I hear you ask. Well, given its reputation, it was a no brainer to order the duck leg soup. Light and fragrant, the duck was succulent and the hand made noodles full of flavor and a very pleasing texture. We also got a serve of the brisket for comparison and it was just as fabulous if different. The beef broth was more full bodied and packed a curried punch while the beef itself was melt in your mouth with a great meat to fat ratio. Served with the same hand made noodles it was super comforting as well as filling


And talk about value for money! With both dishes costing $15 or less, our stomaches were pleasantly full but our wallets were still full too – always a happy feeling. 

Yes it was a 45 minute drive but it was totally worth it! For an awesome meal and a fun day out, I’d go back to Cabramatta! 

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A Pink Afternoon Tea

It’s great to cook for family, it’s satisfying to cook for friends – it’s extra special when you are also cooking for a good cause. 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and this year, my sister and I decided to put our kitchen skills towards a meaningful and very important cause by hosting an afternoon tea. We supplied everything – all we asked for was a donation from our friends who attended. Boy did they deliver!!

It was with great joy and full stomaches that we were able to donate almost $700. Check out the food picks below. 

   
    
    
 

Love Poke, Coogee

It’s Spring glorious Spring! Ok – I know the weather hasn’t been so great lately, especially yesterday – Mother Nature, what an earth was with that – but still, I love this time of year. The weather warms up, the flowers come out, and I start to crave salads and light foods again. 

  

One awesome place that I have discovered in my quest to be bikini ready is Love Poke. Located in the back streets of Coogee a block up from the beach, this secret gem does raw fish, great salads and healthy desserts – all of which are wholesome, massive and delicious. They describe themselves as Hawaiian sushi and I can see the connection.

  

A couple of friends and I met here for lunch one Sunday and had a great time.  We each ordered fishy bowls of deliciousness. These come in different sizes depending on your hunger level. I was super hungry so I got a large. For around $20 (I made a couple of pricey choices) I got to choose 2 types of raw cured fish, two sides and black rice. 
The fish choices change on a regular basis depending on what is fresh and available locally. My soy salmon and coconut barramundi were very tasty. My friends liked theirs too.

  

What really bowled one girl over though was the pumpkin pie. As an American, she craves the stuff and has often searched for it in vain here in Aus. She assured us it was perfection and just like the real stuff back home. 

  

There are many great places to eat in Sydney but this one is so unique that I’d love to come back. The food was great, the staff were lovely and there was no mad scramble for parking or a table. If you are ever in a fishy mood – Take a stab at Love Poke. You won’t be disappointed. 

Cook and Archie’s, Surry Hills

The name is Bond…James Bond. Ok it’s not, but trying to eat at this cafe has been a bit of a mission.

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<p>The Reuben Sandwich, one of many delicious lunch options<br /><br />

The Reuben sandwich, one of the many delicious lunch options.

Due to its immense popularity, getting a table at Cook and Archie’s can seem quite impossible. This, combined with holiday closures has resulted in two prior aborted lunch attempts. On this sunny Saturday though, I achieved success. The secret? Plan for a late lunch.

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<p>The Reuben Sandwich, one of many delicious lunch options<br /><br />

The cafe’s interior

Located on the corner of Buckingham and Devonshire streets, this café, with its generous and wholesome approach towards food attracts a broad clientele from the health conscious to those looking for a serious feed.

Surrounded by old warehouses, office buildings and converted apartment blocks, Cook and Archie’s is furnished with concrete floors’ a dark colour palette; factory style high ceilings, and light fixtures fit right in to its industrial surrounds, and the establishment provides locals with a good breakfast or lunch option. The giant painting of a knife, spoon and fork leaves diners in no doubt as to what they are there to do – just eat.

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<p>The Reuben Sandwich, one of many delicious lunch options<br /><br />

Tasty décor

Within minutes of walking in, me and my two Canberrian buddies, eager for some good food Sydney is becoming known for, were seated and ready to get stuck into lunch.

Between the all day brunch menu; the extensive lunch menu and the specials boards; there were lots of decisions to be made. Knowing I had a big dinner scheduled, I was looking for something healthy but interesting. Luckily for me, the menu was filled with such items. Oscillating between the Gravlax on Rye ($19) and the Potato Cake with smoked salmon and poached egg ($19.80), I broke the mental tennis match by choosing the Tuscan Grilled Chicken Salad with wild rocket, pear, walnuts, caramelised onion, fetta & lemon dressing ($19). It was flavoursome, decent in size, and had a nice crunch.

Tuscun Grilled chicken salad

 

One berrian buddy chose the Reuben Sandwich ($18), an expertly layered picture of yumminess containing the perfect ratio of Wagyu corned beef to cabbage.

perfect layers

The other chose the Pappardelle, duck ragu special ($22).

Pappardelle

We paired these with a great cup of coffee ($4.30 reg) and a glass of freshly squeezed juice ($6.50).

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<p>The Reuben Sandwich, one of many delicious lunch options<br /><br />

Freshly squeezed beetroot, celery and mint.

A bit of an order mix up, which resulted in a late delivery of the Pappardelle was handled really well, with a sincere apology and the offer of a free drink while waiting. Much appreciated.

After much discussion, we arrived at the final verdict: definitely worth a return visit.

Mission complete, over and out.

Rating: 8/10

Where: Shop 1a 4/14 Buckingham Street Surry Hills NSW
Why: Diverse menu and generous portions.
Cost: $7- $23
When:

Monday – Friday: 7am to 4:30pm
Saturday: 8:30am to 2pm

Good for kids: Enough space, but no children’s menu.
Take away: Yes

Chapter e Food and Juice Bar, Darlinghurst

It was Friday lunch time, and with an empty fridge at home, I was on the search for a wholesome, non costly takeaway bite to eat. I found it at Israeli owned Chapter e Food and Juice Bar.

Open for less than six months, this cafe serves a range of hot and cold middle eastern dishes fit for hungry workers, along with a broad selection of freshly squeezed juices.

A friendly, open shop front.

Owned and run by the same people who own the establishment next door, 3 Group Espresso; this cafe has a bright and airy feel with wooden detailing; exposed pendant lighting; a mirrored back wall; hanging plants, and food displayed canteen style in clear glass cabinets.

Warm lighting

On the counter sits a sample plate of home made hummus smothered in z’atar spices and olive oil just waiting for you to dip in a piece of pita bread. As the owner says, it’s not quite as good as in Israel, but it’s close. In Australia, where good hummus is hard to get, this is a real find.

Food out on display

Chapter e is so new that no pricing structure has been established yet. There are a few eat in tables, but their food is primarily sold in three takeaway sizes. At the moment, You are allowed to order as many of the different dishes as you can fit into your desired plastic container. I chose three dishes in a medium box and was charged $10. It was enough for two lunches.

More lunchtime options

I found out just before paying that the generous owner gave me too much, so my food was packaged as a large, but I was still only charged for the medium. I thought that was really considerate.

All neatly packaged and sealed with a special sticker for me to take with me

The food was great. It’s warm, comforting, and the flavours are full and rich, just like a home cooked meal made by a loving, Jewish mother.

my three options – all for $10

I chose a salad, a grain and a meat dish. The red cabbage salad with celery and mayonnaise had great crunch and a delicate flavour. The Israeli couscous was tender, and the pearly grains were soft without being mushy, flavoured with chopped vegetables, and topped with a spicy capsicum sauce. The perch fish balls were served in a thick tomato, eggplant sauce. The balls were firm, and the fish flavour was quite prevalent and well complimented by the sauce. I have to say, this was my favourite of the three. It was such a unique and fun way to eat fish.

Current food menu

With this shop barely on its feet, there are already plans for a second, with ideas for a new shop in the Vaucluse area. The product range in this shop is also set to expand. Shelves will soon be stocked with homemade jams made from exotic fruits such as figs, and large loaves of challah (plaited bread) will be sold. The range of salads and hot dishes will also expand.

Juice menu

We think this might be Darlinghurst’s newest cafe to watch.

Rating: 8/10

Where: 197 Darlinghurst Road Darlinghurst NSW
Why: Wholesome food and friendly owners.
Cost: As yet unknown.
When: Breakfast and Lunch, Monday – Friday.

Good for kids: Yes
Take away: Yes

Henley’s Wholefoods cafe, Bondi Junction

It’s bikini season yet again an in an effort to ready myself for it whilst still indulging my love for brunch, one Saturday morning I donned my newly purchased Adidas leggings (yes I caved and bought real gym gear) and walked myself over to Henley’s wholefoods.

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Located along Oxford street in Bondi Junction, this light and airy cafe is a haven for healthy eating with a range of delectable yet body part (insert your most hated one) conscious choices, finding something to eat is a cinch. I wasn’t alone in my mission either, finding myself surrounded by other exercise gear clad patrons- all looking toned and gorgeous.

You might think that the experience would be intimidating But the staff are lovely. They helped me navigate my way through the low carb, low calorie and high protein options and figure out what I wanted. It’s not cheap but it is tasty. The menu is in two parts: salad plates and their accompaniments and dished- a selection of plated meals and additional sides.

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As much as I’m a veggie fiend, I couldn’t turn away from the baked ocean trout with rainbow chard and tomato and sultana caponata ($22) This dish was phenomenal! The perfect balance of salty and sweet, the flesh of the fish was soft, melt in your mouth delicious and the greens were surprisingly tasty. I also always love a meat/ fish dish that uses dried fruit and this one was a unique combination.

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My friend picked the pumpkin hazelnut bread with zucchini, smoked salmon and yogurt ($14). This was such a pretty dish with beautiful greens, pinks and yellows and although the girls on the table next to us devoured it, my friend didn’t seem overly enthusiastic about her choice.

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All in all it was a gorgeous lunch out, a bright spot in my day and well worth the trek. I didn’t have to walk though, there is actually a gym situated right next door. Maybe next time I can arrange a combined coffee catchup and sweat session-killing multiple birds with one stone and maybe loosing a stone in the process. Bikini body here I come!

White Carrots, Darlinghurst

Meeting a girlfriend for a late lunch one Saturday on Crown Street, I found the place I had intended to go to closed for good.

White Carrots on Crown

That’s how I found myself one day at White Carrots, a small, whole in the wall industrial style cafe in Darlinghurst. Not such a bad way for things to turn out. I had walked by this nook of a place a few times during work hours, and it is always well frequented. Today though, it was just us.

Minimalistic interior

Apart from the cute name and the cute cookies being sold in little cellophane bags on the counter top; there is nothing really substantial separating this cafe from a hundred others in the area. It’s pretty stick standard. Not to say it’s not good of course. The combined breakfast and lunch menu has plenty of solid options to quench your appetite, from sandwiches and salads (which change daily) to eggs and muesli, all at reasonable prices.

Poached eggs with extra sides

Despite it being lunch, I was in the mood for a second breakfast and ordered two poached eggs on toast ($10) with a side of roasted tomatoes ($3.50) and stir fried mushrooms ($4). The bread was lightly honeyed which was very nice, and the egg yokes were cooked to a deep yellow and the perfect kind of runny. Both sides were quite large, well seasoned and not overly greasy.

long black and latte

I particularly enjoyed my long black ($3.50), and my friend liked her latte ($3) which was tasty but not that strong. I wouldn’t cross the city for it, but if you are in the area, White Carrots is a good option for a no fuss, no frills meal. You get what you pay for and you won’t be disappointed.

Rating: 7/10

Where: 216 Crown Street Darlinghurst NSW
Why: Solid food and decent prices.
Cost: $5-$14
When: Monday to Friday, 7am till 3pm. Saturday 8am till 3pm

Good for kids: no. A lot of stairs.
Take away: Yes

Not Bread Alone, Crows Nest

I love a place that has so many different types of dishes on the menu where all appetites are tempted. From an initial google search and previous breakfast experiences a couple of years ago, I thought that Not Bread Alone would do just that. With an all day breakfast menu and an extensive lunch menu including five sections; no one should have had cause to complain that they couldn’t find anything that they felt like. On offer are three kinds of open (or normal) sandwiches, six salads, four burgers, four pastas and a plethora of mains which cover your Australian Classics like grilled fish of the day ($24.90), scotch fillet ($22.90) and veal schnitzel ($20.90).

A converted terrace house set back off the Pacific Highway, the kitchen is located inside where the front bedroom would once have been. A serving counter is next to the entrance, and seating has been set up on the enclosed outdoor balcony upstairs and on the pavement downstairs.

We were initially seated right next to the entrance in an awkward configuration for four. Given that we had made the effort to book, and there was another table available (also reserved but the group hadn’t yet arrived), I asked for us to be moved. The waiter, after a moments hesitation agreed stating “first come first serve.”

The staff all seem to wander around a bit in their own world, and the owner/manager isn’t overly pleasant. After waiting half an hour with our menus, our order was finally taken. A minute later, another waitress came to take our order again, unaware we had been helped moments earlier.

While we waited for our food, the weather turned cold and rainy. Luckily the outdoor area is equipped with heaters. I asked a passing waitress to please switch it on for us. She didn’t seem to hear me. I had to turn on the heater myself until the manager came to help, looking quite disgruntled that I had taken it upon myself to touch it in the first place. Once the heater was on though, we warmed up quick smart.

The food quality was also a disappointment. It seems to have gone downhill since my last visit, on which occasion I had the most gorgeous ricotta hotcakes that I still dream about. The veal schnitzel ($20.90) was greasy and under seasoned. The beer battered fish ($20.90) was also average and came with bonus human hair on the lemon. When mentioned to the waitress, she did remove it off the plate and brought a fresh one, but there was no apology. At least the chips that came with both dishes were home made and tasty.

 

The vegetarian big breakfast ($19.90) was a good dish, but the sourdough it came with looked supermarket bought and over toasted.

The only stand out was the veal ravioli ($20.90) with the provincial sauce which was well balanced, and each parcel of pasta contained a decent amount of meat.

The place is not all bad. The wine menu is nice and blankets are provided to guests sitting downstairs to ward off the chill in the cooler months. The desserts which passed us also looked fabulous, but we weren’t in the mood to try and get someone’s attention again in order to order one.

All in all the best thing about the lunch was the company. I’m not sure if there is new ownership, but things have definitely changed in the last couple of years. It’s a shame. This place used to be a winner, and with a little bit of effort could probably become a winner once again.

Rating: 5/10

Where: Shop 2, 376 Pacific Highway Crows Nest NSW.
Why: Veal ravioli
Cost: $12.90-$29.90
When: 7 days, breakfast & lunch.

Good for kids: No
Take away: Yes

The Moody Chef, St Leonards

You know how cheers is a bar where everyone knows your name? The Moody Chef is a café with which I’d be happy to be on a first name basis. Located in St Leonard’s on a relatively quiet side street, we joined lots of other lunchtime customers who found the spacious and friendly interior as the perfect place to escape the grotty weather of a wild and windy Saturday.

mushroom bruschetta: perfect eggs on top of meaty mushrooms

I’ll admit, I looked up the menu online before we arrived and I’m glad I did, otherwise it would have taken me forever to order. Despite the great looking lunch menu, I generally find an all day breakfast section hard to resist and this time was no exception. In fact, we all decided to have breakfast for lunch.

poached eggs with spinach, feta and lentil ragu
For me, it was eggs all the way- with around six different poached egg items to choose from, I went half and half on the mushroom bruschetta with pesto, Parmesan and poached eggs ($16.90) as well as the poached eggs with pumpkin, feta and lentil ragu ($16.90). Both meals were delicious. Generous in size, the eggs were the perfect balance between soft and hard and the mushrooms on the bruschetta were the meaty, flat cap variety and they were lovely. Both dishes came with golden brown sourdough, a great compliment.

banana and blueberry pancakes: a tower of fluffiness

We also ordered two serves of the blueberry and banana pancakes ($16.90). Stacked three to a serve and topped with Mascarpone and candied walnuts, these were light, fresh and seriously tasty. The fresh berries cut through the maple syrup sweetness and with no heavy batter or floury flavour that often accompanies café made pancakes, this dish was a winner.

Despite being happy with our choices, there were many other menu items I’d like to try, namely the Nutella pancakes and the slow roasted lamb melt. I also spied a delectable looking cinnamon scroll sitting in the dessert display case as we made our way out at the end of the meal and waddled back to our car. With so many more things to try, I’d say there will be many more visits in our future. So Moody Chef, let’s get acquainted- I think you are someone who should definitely know my name!

Rating: 8/10

Where: 1/30 Atchison St, St Leonards NSW 2065
Why: an enjoyable cafe you can book
Cost: $15-$18 a meal
When: Mon—Fri 6am-5pm.
Sat 7am-3pm

Good for kids: no
Take away: yes

Kingston and Co, Chatswood

The newest in a chain of coffee cafés, Kingston & Co, Chatswood opened up in the Lower North Shore’s favourite shopping centre, adding a classy and cosy option for shoppers looking for a cup of coffee or decent meal.

Part of Chatswood Westfield’s transformation into a cornucopia of food, Kingston & Co brings with them their trademark modern Australian fare and one month in, It’s proving to be popular.

Toasty and warm inside the box

Toasty and warm inside the box

Having organised a local coffee catch up one Saturday afternoon, a friend and I decided to give it a go. What was really appealing was the fact that there was seating in a glass enclosed courtyard, all decked out with timber bench seating and gas flame heaters. It was the ability to sit in a deliciously warm, protected space while still experiencing the beautiful winters’ day that got me. I could see this working just as well in summer but in reverse.

Peppermint tea

Peppermint tea

 

From the moment we arrived to the paying of the bill, the service was just incredible. It was by far the best part of the experience. They were attentive without being overbearing, friendly but not fake, and gave us great beverage recommendations.

King's French Toast

King’s French Toast

As there is nothing better than second breakfast at 2pm, we decided to share the King’s French toast ($15) also available with bacon on request. It looked delicious and the portion was absolutely massive -a thick piece of eggy brioche bread slathered in jam served with a tea cup sized side of whipped cream. Unfortunately it was a classic case of looks being deceiving. The flavours were all good but the bread was too soggy with no caramelised  crunchy surface that makes biting into a good piece of French toast worth it.

Hibiscus Tea

Hibiscus Tea

Our drinks on the other hand were lovely. We ordered a large long black ($5.50) which was the perfect strength and bitterness, a peppermint tea ($4) and the recommended hibiscus tea ($5) which was poured hot over a glass of ice – interesting and refreshing and something I definitely recommend for lovers of iced tea. For those who like their tea piping hot, it’s probably not your cup.

Long black

Long black

All in all it was a lovely afternoon and the look of the food being delivered to others indulging in a late lunch suggest that Kingston & Co might be worth another go.

Rating: 7/10

Where: Westfield, Anderson Street, Chatswood
Why: A classy and cosy place for a catch up
Cost:  $5-$25
When:  Sunday to Wednesday 7.30am-5.30pm, Thursday to Saturday 7.30am-9.00pm

Good for kids:yes
Take away: yes