Reviews



Banana Palm, Coogee

Restaurants

Overall 7.1  53

7 Recommended

Food  8      Ambience  6      Service  6      Value  8     


Unfortunately, our Saturday evening here was marred by excessive noise, inefficient service and poor lighting. Which was a pity since, Banana Palm works well on other levels, especially the food and everything we ordered was fresh, tasty and prepared with the highest quality ingredients.

The venue itself is elegantly decked out in dark colour tones and it’s conveniently situated across the road from Coogee Beach and around the corner from the Crowne Plaza Hotel. It’s a large, comfortable and airy place and the tables are easily able to fit all the dishes. Even the prices are reasonable at around $22 for a main meal and $15 for a generous serve of entrees. So we ended up paying $150 for five of us and that included two shared entrees, five mains, rice, a single beer, a single dessert and corkage.

The fare here is Vietnamese, similar in style to Thai but without the overly rich and creamy sauces. We started off with two entrées which we shared: vegetarian spring rolls and rice paper rolls. The spring rolls were piping hot with a crispy exterior and a tasty warm veg filling. The cold rice paper rolls were a suitable complement to the hot spring rolls. The beef dishes were beautifully prepared with the meat succulent and tender and accompanied by nutritious and crunchy vegetables. The apple and cinnamon crepe desert was a delight. Meals are brought to the table in stylish white crockery. Portion sizes are average, although they proved to be a bit stingy with the rice: only one small bowl for five people.

So overall, everyone was happy with the food but unfortunately, it’s a hellishly noisy place especially on a Saturday night when it’s likely to be full. The wooden floors with no carpets or other noise absorbers are a sound engineer’s nightmare. And service was a bit of a disaster. We ended up waiting almost three quarters of an hour for the first entrees. After that, things sped up a bit but by that time, most of us had lost patience and tempers were starting to fray.

It was all made worse by the fact that they mixed up some of the dishes and one of us had to wait an extra 15 minutes for her meal to finally be brought out – after everyone else had finished. I found the wait staff on the whole to be not only inefficient, but unhelpful and rather dour. And the poor lighting and small font size made the menu almost impossible to read. Toilets are unmarked but when you do locate them, you will find them clean and well stocked

Parking can be a bit of a headache but we were lucky to find something on nearby Waltham Street. I can’t see ourselves returning here in a hurry, despite the high quality of the food and the pleasant location. My suggestion to these guys is to carpet the place, upgrade the waitering skills, improve the lighting and increase the size of the menu. If they did all that, this place would be a winner.

Jul 15, 2014

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Sushi Inn, Randwick

Restaurants, Sushi

Overall 7.9  3

8 Recommended

Food  8      Ambience  8      Service  8      Value  8     


We’ve passed this rather inauspicious-looking place many times and never bothered to try it. But we were persuaded to by our Ent Bk voucher which offers a 25% discount off the bill up to a generous $35 (that’s voucher no. C41, for those who have the book). And what a pleasant surprise it was. This is a traditional sushi bar with seating around the counter. The place has been decked out in classic Japanese style with cherry blossom prints on the wall creating an atmosphere that is warm and homely, especially on a cold winter’s night. You could be forgiven for thinking you were in Japan!

The selections off the train are plentiful and varied with something for everyone from tuna, to beef, chicken and vegetarian. Everything we had was fresh, tasty and prepared with the highest quality ingredients. It’s licensed, or even if it’s not, they have a choice of local and imported beers at reasonable prices. I paid $5 for a Crown lager, which was the perfect accompaniment to our sushi.

Apart from the train, you can also order hot meals off the menu. We choose the wagyu beef and a spicy bean salad, and what inspired choices they were! The meat was pinkish, not something we usually take to too well, but the quality of this small dish made up for it. The beef was as tender as butter and we loved those subtle, aromatic flavours. The beans were juicy and crunchy and smothered in a hot spicy sauce.

All up and after our discount we paid a modest $38 for about six or seven dishes off the train, the wagyu beef and bean salad off the menu and two Crown lagers. Can’t complain about that. And the service was friendly, attentive and quick, despite our pretty waitress struggling a bit with her English language skills.

You’ll find Sushi Inn on busy Belmore Rd just a few steps from the Randwick Shopping Plaza, (also known as the Coles Plaza.) There’s limited street parking, but I guess this is the kind of place to mainly attract locals, who walk. We’ll certainly be back for more delicious sushi and wagyu beef, with next year’s voucher.

Jul 10, 2014

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Thai Riffic, Bondi Junction

Restaurants, Noodle Bar, Thai

Overall 7  14

8 Recommended

Food  8      Ambience  8      Service  8      Value  8     


We usually dine here at least once a year with our Ent Book voucher, which gives us a 25% discount up to a max of $20. We’ve never been disappointed and Saturday night was no exception.

We ordered two main meals and a single shared starter and that cost us a modest $27. The fare was fresh and tasty and served in generous portions. The fish cake starter was moist and chewy. Even better were the two main courses: the pad thai with beef and noodles and the tofu with vegetables and noodles. The beef was finely sliced and tender and the varied selection of vegetables were crunchy and nutritious. The noodles were soft and flavoursome, the perfect complement to the rest of the meals.

These guys just do it right every time so it’s no wonder then that this is one of the more popular places at the Westfield Food Court. Even though it was a Saturday night, there was plenty of seating. And being Westfield, it’s a comfy, well lit, clean and relaxed environment. Perfect for families, small or large groups or solo diners. Parking is free and unlimited after 7pm.

Jun 28, 2014

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Restaurants, Steak House, Serves Dinner, Serves Lunch, American Express

Overall 6.1  145

7.8 Recommended

Food  8      Ambience  8      Service  8      Value  7     


Booking

This ever-popular steak house in Manly was packed on a Saturday night, so booking, especially on a weekend, is essential to secure a table. Midweek though, I imagine you could get a table without a booking.

Food

These guys sure know how to cook a steak – and they also know how to prepare pretty much everything else as well, because all agreed that everything that was brought to the table was of the highest quality. Four of us dined and we started with a serve of herb baguettes ($6) and farmers sausages ($13). The bread was warm and soft and just the right serving size to whet your appetite. The sausages were firm but the meat was succulent and flavoursome. For mains, I played it safe with a 220g sirloin steak well done with chips ($28) and a side of coleslaw ($5). The steak was tasty and perfectly cooked just the way I like it without being over done or burned. The generous serve of crunchy chips and a large bowl of fresh coleslaw were the perfect complement. My wife also had the sirloin. Our friends both had the 180g fillet steak ($30), medium rare and they enjoyed that too. A nutritious and refreshing Greek salad for the table ($18) rounded that off. The cakes looked scrumptious but we were too full for dessert.

Ambience

As one would expect from such a popular place, the atmosphere was lively and energetic. The decor is cheerful and homely with bright red chairs and plenty of light streaming in from the large windows on the sea side. It seems most diners come to spend an evening and that’s what this place is all about. You come here for more than just a meal; this is a night out and no-one rushes you to leave when you’ve finished your meals.

Comfort

Toilets are a bit hard to find with miniscule signs on the door but they are clean and well stocked. Menu is easy to read in the strong light. Seating, with chairs and couches, are comfortable and the generously sized tables are able to fit all the dishes. It is a tad noisy though but I guess there’s not much that can be done about that.

Service

Service was first class. Our booked table was waiting for us on arrival. Our pretty waitress could not have been more polite, helpful and efficient, despite obviously working under pressure because of the crowds. There was no long wait for the drinks or the meals and everything came out promptly and in the correct order. Only suggestion for improvement is to bring beer glasses and not assume that we all like to drink straight from the bottle – I don’t!

Value

Being a tad on the expensive side, this isn’t the kind of place you’d rush to without a voucher or discount deal. We brought along our Ent Book card, which gave us a 25% discount up to a generous $50. That kept our bill for four down to $162, but that included three beers, three glasses of wine and two soft drinks. We were happy with that.

Location and parking

You’ll find R&R in the heart of the Manly dining and entertainment precinct opposite the beach, around the corner from the Corso. Don’t bother looking for free street parking as it’s in short supply. Instead, make life easy for yourself by heading straight for the nearby council car park, where you can leave your car for a flat evening rate of $12. Just factor that into your budget.

Summary

We had a pleasant evening here and everything went off smoothly. The food and service were outstanding, the ambience just right for spending a Saturday night with friends. And easy parking is available at a small price. We’ll certainly be back with next year’s Ent Book voucher.

Jun 19, 2014

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Niji Sushi Bar, Kingsford

Restaurants, Bars, Japanese, Family Dining, Good for Business Dining

Overall 8  9

8.2 Recommended

Food  8      Drinks  8      Ambience  8      Service  9      Value  8     


Booking

Whilst the place is called the “Niji Sushi Bar” (not to be confused with “Niji Restaurant & Bar” which is in Double Bay) there’s a formal sit-down restaurant part as well as the sushi train. Of course, you can’t book for the sushi train but you can book for the restaurant section, which we did. And lucky that we had because the place was packed on a busy Sat night and we wouldn’t have got a table without the booking.

Food

The fare is Japanese. First up and before we had even ordered; a plate of edamame (beans) was brought to the table free of charge, just to whet our appetites. For the formal part of the meal, we started with a seaweed salad ($5) and a serve of vegetables on skewers ($7). Both were fairly ordinary, small portions in line with the modest prices. For mains we shared a selection of teriyaki dishes: salmon ($18) chicken ($15) and beef ($16). Now this is where this place really excels, because all three were the best quality, fresh and tasty meals and served in generous portions.

The presentation was simple, with each dish accompanied only by boiled rice but that worked well, allowing you to enjoy those subtle teriyaki flavours without too much distraction. All agreed that the chicken was the stand out dish of the night. The meat was finely sliced, tender and succulent and coated in a tangy slightly sweetish sauce. But the others came a close second. The beef too was tender and tasty and the salmon was well cooked just the way we like it. We washed all that down with a few glasses of Riesling, beer and finally a glass of sake. Phew, that sake is enough to knock your socks off!

Ambience

Apart from the addition of the sushi train, not much changed from its previous incarnation as the popular Gourmet Pizza Kitchen, which sat on this site for many years. The interior decoration is still fairly ordinary with wooden furniture and concrete floors. However, as the place was full, with mainly students, young people and families with kids, it was humming with a lively atmosphere. Everyone seemed to be having a pleasant time.

Comfort

Furniture is basic and tables slightly cramped. Toilets are large, adequate and well stocked but by 9.30pm, they were in dire need of a mid-evening clean-up. More prominent signage would also help so that you wouldn’t have to bother the busy staff to find out where they are. The menu is straightforward, colourful and easy to read. Even though the place was packed, tables are well spaced out so we had no trouble conversing.

Service

Despite the crowds, we were made to feel welcome the minute we stepped through the front door. Our booked table was ready at the exactly the right time. Orders were quickly taken and meals came out promptly and in the right order. Our pretty waitress could not have been more friendly, patient and polite.

Value

With our 25% Ent Book discount, we paid a reasonable $85 for a seaweed salad, vegetable skewers, four mains, an extra serve of rice, a beer, a glass of sake, a coke and two glasses of wine. At a tad under $30 a head that represents solid value in these austere times.

Parking

We found easy parking a few blocks down Borrodale Rd, where restrictions end at 8.00pm. But forget about finding anything on Anzac Parade.

Summary

We all enjoyed our evening and are looking forward to a return visit. The food was delicious with polite and attentive service to match. We’ll be back with next years voucher!

Jun 09, 2014

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artforartssake


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Member since 2006

I'm Male and married

My birthday is on 4th Nov 1956

My home town is Syd

They say I'm Fussy

Apart from eating, I read

You'll often catch me at home

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My favourite cuisine is Indian

My favourite drink is Foaming amber ale

Last updated on 25th Sep 2011





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Banana Palm, Coogee

Restaurants

Overall 7.1  53

7 Recommended

Food  8      Ambience  6      Service  6      Value  8     


Unfortunately, our Saturday evening here was marred by excessive noise, inefficient service and poor lighting. Which was a pity since, Banana Palm works well on other levels, especially the food and everything we ordered was fresh, tasty and prepared with the highest quality ingredients.

The venue itself is elegantly decked out in dark colour tones and it’s conveniently situated across the road from Coogee Beach and around the corner from the Crowne Plaza Hotel. It’s a large, comfortable and airy place and the tables are easily able to fit all the dishes. Even the prices are reasonable at around $22 for a main meal and $15 for a generous serve of entrees. So we ended up paying $150 for five of us and that included two shared entrees, five mains, rice, a single beer, a single dessert and corkage.

The fare here is Vietnamese, similar in style to Thai but without the overly rich and creamy sauces. We started off with two entrées which we shared: vegetarian spring rolls and rice paper rolls. The spring rolls were piping hot with a crispy exterior and a tasty warm veg filling. The cold rice paper rolls were a suitable complement to the hot spring rolls. The beef dishes were beautifully prepared with the meat succulent and tender and accompanied by nutritious and crunchy vegetables. The apple and cinnamon crepe desert was a delight. Meals are brought to the table in stylish white crockery. Portion sizes are average, although they proved to be a bit stingy with the rice: only one small bowl for five people.

So overall, everyone was happy with the food but unfortunately, it’s a hellishly noisy place especially on a Saturday night when it’s likely to be full. The wooden floors with no carpets or other noise absorbers are a sound engineer’s nightmare. And service was a bit of a disaster. We ended up waiting almost three quarters of an hour for the first entrees. After that, things sped up a bit but by that time, most of us had lost patience and tempers were starting to fray.

It was all made worse by the fact that they mixed up some of the dishes and one of us had to wait an extra 15 minutes for her meal to finally be brought out – after everyone else had finished. I found the wait staff on the whole to be not only inefficient, but unhelpful and rather dour. And the poor lighting and small font size made the menu almost impossible to read. Toilets are unmarked but when you do locate them, you will find them clean and well stocked

Parking can be a bit of a headache but we were lucky to find something on nearby Waltham Street. I can’t see ourselves returning here in a hurry, despite the high quality of the food and the pleasant location. My suggestion to these guys is to carpet the place, upgrade the waitering skills, improve the lighting and increase the size of the menu. If they did all that, this place would be a winner.

Jul 15, 2014

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Sushi Inn, Randwick

Restaurants, Sushi

Overall 7.9  3

8 Recommended

Food  8      Ambience  8      Service  8      Value  8     


We’ve passed this rather inauspicious-looking place many times and never bothered to try it. But we were persuaded to by our Ent Bk voucher which offers a 25% discount off the bill up to a generous $35 (that’s voucher no. C41, for those who have the book). And what a pleasant surprise it was. This is a traditional sushi bar with seating around the counter. The place has been decked out in classic Japanese style with cherry blossom prints on the wall creating an atmosphere that is warm and homely, especially on a cold winter’s night. You could be forgiven for thinking you were in Japan!

The selections off the train are plentiful and varied with something for everyone from tuna, to beef, chicken and vegetarian. Everything we had was fresh, tasty and prepared with the highest quality ingredients. It’s licensed, or even if it’s not, they have a choice of local and imported beers at reasonable prices. I paid $5 for a Crown lager, which was the perfect accompaniment to our sushi.

Apart from the train, you can also order hot meals off the menu. We choose the wagyu beef and a spicy bean salad, and what inspired choices they were! The meat was pinkish, not something we usually take to too well, but the quality of this small dish made up for it. The beef was as tender as butter and we loved those subtle, aromatic flavours. The beans were juicy and crunchy and smothered in a hot spicy sauce.

All up and after our discount we paid a modest $38 for about six or seven dishes off the train, the wagyu beef and bean salad off the menu and two Crown lagers. Can’t complain about that. And the service was friendly, attentive and quick, despite our pretty waitress struggling a bit with her English language skills.

You’ll find Sushi Inn on busy Belmore Rd just a few steps from the Randwick Shopping Plaza, (also known as the Coles Plaza.) There’s limited street parking, but I guess this is the kind of place to mainly attract locals, who walk. We’ll certainly be back for more delicious sushi and wagyu beef, with next year’s voucher.

Jul 10, 2014

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Thai Riffic, Bondi Junction

Restaurants, Noodle Bar, Thai

Overall 7  14

8 Recommended

Food  8      Ambience  8      Service  8      Value  8     


We usually dine here at least once a year with our Ent Book voucher, which gives us a 25% discount up to a max of $20. We’ve never been disappointed and Saturday night was no exception.

We ordered two main meals and a single shared starter and that cost us a modest $27. The fare was fresh and tasty and served in generous portions. The fish cake starter was moist and chewy. Even better were the two main courses: the pad thai with beef and noodles and the tofu with vegetables and noodles. The beef was finely sliced and tender and the varied selection of vegetables were crunchy and nutritious. The noodles were soft and flavoursome, the perfect complement to the rest of the meals.

These guys just do it right every time so it’s no wonder then that this is one of the more popular places at the Westfield Food Court. Even though it was a Saturday night, there was plenty of seating. And being Westfield, it’s a comfy, well lit, clean and relaxed environment. Perfect for families, small or large groups or solo diners. Parking is free and unlimited after 7pm.

Jun 28, 2014

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Restaurants, Steak House, Serves Dinner, Serves Lunch, American Express

Overall 6.1  145

7.8 Recommended

Food  8      Ambience  8      Service  8      Value  7     


Booking

This ever-popular steak house in Manly was packed on a Saturday night, so booking, especially on a weekend, is essential to secure a table. Midweek though, I imagine you could get a table without a booking.

Food

These guys sure know how to cook a steak – and they also know how to prepare pretty much everything else as well, because all agreed that everything that was brought to the table was of the highest quality. Four of us dined and we started with a serve of herb baguettes ($6) and farmers sausages ($13). The bread was warm and soft and just the right serving size to whet your appetite. The sausages were firm but the meat was succulent and flavoursome. For mains, I played it safe with a 220g sirloin steak well done with chips ($28) and a side of coleslaw ($5). The steak was tasty and perfectly cooked just the way I like it without being over done or burned. The generous serve of crunchy chips and a large bowl of fresh coleslaw were the perfect complement. My wife also had the sirloin. Our friends both had the 180g fillet steak ($30), medium rare and they enjoyed that too. A nutritious and refreshing Greek salad for the table ($18) rounded that off. The cakes looked scrumptious but we were too full for dessert.

Ambience

As one would expect from such a popular place, the atmosphere was lively and energetic. The decor is cheerful and homely with bright red chairs and plenty of light streaming in from the large windows on the sea side. It seems most diners come to spend an evening and that’s what this place is all about. You come here for more than just a meal; this is a night out and no-one rushes you to leave when you’ve finished your meals.

Comfort

Toilets are a bit hard to find with miniscule signs on the door but they are clean and well stocked. Menu is easy to read in the strong light. Seating, with chairs and couches, are comfortable and the generously sized tables are able to fit all the dishes. It is a tad noisy though but I guess there’s not much that can be done about that.

Service

Service was first class. Our booked table was waiting for us on arrival. Our pretty waitress could not have been more polite, helpful and efficient, despite obviously working under pressure because of the crowds. There was no long wait for the drinks or the meals and everything came out promptly and in the correct order. Only suggestion for improvement is to bring beer glasses and not assume that we all like to drink straight from the bottle – I don’t!

Value

Being a tad on the expensive side, this isn’t the kind of place you’d rush to without a voucher or discount deal. We brought along our Ent Book card, which gave us a 25% discount up to a generous $50. That kept our bill for four down to $162, but that included three beers, three glasses of wine and two soft drinks. We were happy with that.

Location and parking

You’ll find R&R in the heart of the Manly dining and entertainment precinct opposite the beach, around the corner from the Corso. Don’t bother looking for free street parking as it’s in short supply. Instead, make life easy for yourself by heading straight for the nearby council car park, where you can leave your car for a flat evening rate of $12. Just factor that into your budget.

Summary

We had a pleasant evening here and everything went off smoothly. The food and service were outstanding, the ambience just right for spending a Saturday night with friends. And easy parking is available at a small price. We’ll certainly be back with next year’s Ent Book voucher.

Jun 19, 2014

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Niji Sushi Bar, Kingsford

Restaurants, Bars, Japanese, Family Dining, Good for Business Dining

Overall 8  9

8.2 Recommended

Food  8      Drinks  8      Ambience  8      Service  9      Value  8     


Booking

Whilst the place is called the “Niji Sushi Bar” (not to be confused with “Niji Restaurant & Bar” which is in Double Bay) there’s a formal sit-down restaurant part as well as the sushi train. Of course, you can’t book for the sushi train but you can book for the restaurant section, which we did. And lucky that we had because the place was packed on a busy Sat night and we wouldn’t have got a table without the booking.

Food

The fare is Japanese. First up and before we had even ordered; a plate of edamame (beans) was brought to the table free of charge, just to whet our appetites. For the formal part of the meal, we started with a seaweed salad ($5) and a serve of vegetables on skewers ($7). Both were fairly ordinary, small portions in line with the modest prices. For mains we shared a selection of teriyaki dishes: salmon ($18) chicken ($15) and beef ($16). Now this is where this place really excels, because all three were the best quality, fresh and tasty meals and served in generous portions.

The presentation was simple, with each dish accompanied only by boiled rice but that worked well, allowing you to enjoy those subtle teriyaki flavours without too much distraction. All agreed that the chicken was the stand out dish of the night. The meat was finely sliced, tender and succulent and coated in a tangy slightly sweetish sauce. But the others came a close second. The beef too was tender and tasty and the salmon was well cooked just the way we like it. We washed all that down with a few glasses of Riesling, beer and finally a glass of sake. Phew, that sake is enough to knock your socks off!

Ambience

Apart from the addition of the sushi train, not much changed from its previous incarnation as the popular Gourmet Pizza Kitchen, which sat on this site for many years. The interior decoration is still fairly ordinary with wooden furniture and concrete floors. However, as the place was full, with mainly students, young people and families with kids, it was humming with a lively atmosphere. Everyone seemed to be having a pleasant time.

Comfort

Furniture is basic and tables slightly cramped. Toilets are large, adequate and well stocked but by 9.30pm, they were in dire need of a mid-evening clean-up. More prominent signage would also help so that you wouldn’t have to bother the busy staff to find out where they are. The menu is straightforward, colourful and easy to read. Even though the place was packed, tables are well spaced out so we had no trouble conversing.

Service

Despite the crowds, we were made to feel welcome the minute we stepped through the front door. Our booked table was ready at the exactly the right time. Orders were quickly taken and meals came out promptly and in the right order. Our pretty waitress could not have been more friendly, patient and polite.

Value

With our 25% Ent Book discount, we paid a reasonable $85 for a seaweed salad, vegetable skewers, four mains, an extra serve of rice, a beer, a glass of sake, a coke and two glasses of wine. At a tad under $30 a head that represents solid value in these austere times.

Parking

We found easy parking a few blocks down Borrodale Rd, where restrictions end at 8.00pm. But forget about finding anything on Anzac Parade.

Summary

We all enjoyed our evening and are looking forward to a return visit. The food was delicious with polite and attentive service to match. We’ll be back with next years voucher!

Jun 09, 2014

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Infuzions, Cammeray

Restaurants, Asian, Asian Fusion, Tapas, Family Dining

Overall 7.3  35

7.8 Recommended

Food  8      Ambience  8      Service  8      Value  7     


Booking

Three of us dined midweek. When we arrived at 6.30pm, the place was pretty empty, but it filled up quickly so I guess that means that booking any night of the week is the sensible thing to do to guarantee a table.

Food

The fare here is upmarket Thai. We shared a selection of entrees, mains and a single dessert. Serving sizes were small and we had no trouble finishing it all off. Everything was fresh and tasty and beautifully presented to the table in elegant white crockery. The chicken was brought in on a large skewer and skilfully sliced off onto the plate by the serving waiter. And the meat was succulent and tender and gently spiced with a mixture of authentic aromatic herbs and spices. Clearly, a lot of effort and thought has gone into the preparation of these dishes and it shows. We all enjoyed our meals, although more generous helpings would have made us even happier.

Ambience

The ambience is stylish but laid back, in that Lower North Shore-cool kind of way. Once upon a time, this was a Thai restaurant called U Thong that had occupied this site for many years and had grown tired and outdated. So it’s pleasing to see this important space in the heart of Cammeray, transformed into a smart, contemporary dining venue. The subtle yet trendy decor, dim lighting and a busy kitchen on the far side wide open to view, creates a lively and energetic atmosphere.

Comfort

Plenty of wood and concrete would suggest a noisy venue but that’s compensated for that by generously spaced out tables and an interesting wooden noise abatement design on the ceiling. This all works well to keep the sound to an acceptable level and we were able to converse without too much trouble. Furniture is comfortable and the menu is clearly laid out and easy to read. Toilets are clean and well stocked, as you would expect from an upmarket restaurant.

Service

When we arrived, our booked table was ready and waiting. Orders were quickly taken by our friendly, polite and professional waitress. I noticed that the food is brought to the table, not by the waitress who took our order, but by a smart gent in a white chef’s uniform. That gave it an extra aura of authenticity, as if it were brought straight from the cooking pot to our table by the guy who cooked it. Nice touch!

Value

With our 25% Ent Book discount (up to max $30), we paid $80 for a single beer, two entrees, three mains, rice and a single dessert. So I guess that puts it at the higher end of the scale, price-wise.

Location and parking

You’ll find Infuzions in the heart of the Cammeray commercial strip on Miller Street. There’s a council car park behind the strip, with free and unlimited parking but not a huge number of spaces, although we’ve always managed to find something.

Summary

Everything went smoothly and we had a pleasant evening. But given the rather steep prices and small helpings, I won’t be rushing back here without a voucher.

Choc pud dessert Tofu entree Busy restaurant midweek Chicken Massaman pumpkin Dim sims


Jun 05, 2014

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Izakaya Goma, Maroubra

Restaurants, Japanese, Serves Dinner, Serves Lunch, Serves Takeaway

Overall 7.3  1

7.3 Recommended

Food  8      Ambience  5      Service  8      Value  8     


This is a fairly basic, no-frills eatery that’s distinctly lacking in ambience. We dined on a quiet Wednesday night in autumn. There was a smattering of other diners, so we weren’t the only ones there, but still it was easy to get a table at around 8.00pm.

Plastered on the wall outside was an ad for the special of the night: a pint of Sapporo beer for $10. So that kind of enticed us to go inside. Boy that was the heaviest point I’ve ever lifted. The glass weighed a ton!

Once inside, we found the atmosphere a tad frigid, and the place also had a slightly unappetising look about it, with dirty towels on the floors and the kitchen area wide open to view. Still, the prices were reasonable; the fair was solid and authentic Japanese and the service fast and efficient, despite the waitress’s poor English language skills.

The menu is large and colourful and easy to read. Furniture is standard issue diner-style stuff, although the upholstered chairs were comfortable. The single unisex/disabled toilet is large and well provisioned, although some signage visible from the restaurant would have allayed my fears about where it was.

Two of us dined and we shared a miso soup, a seaweed salad, chicken katsu and a bowl of rice. All that with the pint of Sapporo came to a reasonable $42. The main dish, the chicken katsu, was fresh and tasty and carefully prepared. The chicken was tender and succulent, resting on a bed of soft noodles and covered in a tangy sauce. The miso soup had lashings of vegetables and tofu in it, whilst the seaweed salad was crispy with a covering of sesame seeds. Portion sizes were a bit on the small side, in line with the prices.

You’ll find Izakaya on Anzac Pde midway between the Bowen Library and the Pacific Sq Shopping centre. There’s ample free parking in the large council car park across the road.

Whilst this is a useful place for a quick and inexpensive meal if you haven’t made a booking, apart from that, I wouldn’t be rushing back here.

May 22, 2014

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Chase Oyster Bar, Chatswood

Restaurants, Italian, Modern Australian, Seafood, Family Dining

Overall 7  31

6 Average

Food  6      Ambience  5      Service  8      Value  5     


We had a less than satisfactory dining experience on a quiet Wednesday eve in autumn. Whilst it’s billed as the “Chase Oyster Bar” on its website and the various review sites, the sign outside simply says “Chase Bar & Dining”. A minor point perhaps but why the confusion?

Sadly, dining at Chatswood Chase Shopping Centre on a weeknight is a rather dull affair, with only two restaurants open past 5.00pm: this one and “New Shanghai” next door. Of the two, “New Shanghai” was busier with what looked like more atmosphere. We’re a long way away from our Asian neighbours where shopping centres at night are a hive activity and a magnet for diners. For the most part, ours pretty much shutdown at 5.00pm, apart perhaps from Thursday night, although the revamped restaurant precinct at Westfield Eastgardens is an improvement.

Anyway, having made our choice, we decided to stick with it, even though there
were few diners and the place seemed rather quiet and a tad dreary.

We were presented with two menus but with no explanation from staff as to what the difference between the two was. Judging by its austere presentation on plain white paper, I deduced that one was the “specials” menu where I have to admit, prices were very reasonable at $15 for a pasta dish and $20 for a steak dish. The other menu was the regular one which you can see on the web and where prices are standard for the higher end of the market. The fare seemed like a bit of a mixed bag with French and Italian dishes.

We were told that there were no beef available which was a bit unfortunate and that pretty much cut out half the dishes from the menus.

For starters we choose the bruschetta ($6) off the “specials” menu and a rocket salad ($9). The bruschetta comprised two tiny pieces of toast with the tomato, basil and onion topping. A tad stingy I’d say: two mouthfuls and it was finished. The salad was acceptable with a hefty topping of parmesan cheese which gave it a lively bite. For mains two of us choose the spag with Italian sausages in a cream sauce off the specials menu ($15) and the third member of our party was a bit more extravagant, opting for the spag marinara in tomato which comes in at a hefty $28 off the regular menu. All dishes were fresh, carefully prepared and presented to the table in stylish white crockery.

I liked the fact that sauce levels were kept to an optimum level to give the dish flavouring but without overwhelming them. Having said that though, I found the portion sizes too small, especially the two dishes that came off the “specials” menu. They were really only half serving sizes, which just goes to prove that you get what you pay for. The amount of Italian sausage in the two pasta dishes was minimal and generally none of the three meals really inspired. What everyone seemed to like best of all was the chewy, stone baked Ciabatta bread that was brought to the table first for free. That was more generous that the stingy bruschetta! We finished with an ice cream triplet ($10) but again, most of the flavours we asked for were not available.

The place has been stylishly decked out in a kind of faux Parisienne-cafe style with pinks and blacks and low hanging lamps but it lacked atmosphere because of the paucity of diners. I also found it too chilly for my liking and the tables small and cramped. Menus as mentioned were confusing with no attempt to explain the different ones to us.

Service from our pretty French waitress was a bit hesitant but she made up for it by being pleasant, efficient and polite. Thankfully there was no long wait for the dishes.

We ended up paying $90 for a single Peroni beer, a starter, a salad, three mains (two specials, one regular) and ice cream. I found that a tad on the high side given the small size of the portions, the general ordinariness of the dishes and the lack of choices.

Being in the Chase shopping centre, parking is free for three hours. Not sure that we’ll be rushing back to dine here again.

May 09, 2014

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Mama Roma, Broadbeach

Restaurants, Italian, Restaurant Bookings

Overall 7.2  5

7.3 Recommended

Food  7      Ambience  7      Service  7      Value  8     


We dined on Easter Sunday. While there were a fair number of customers when we arrived at 7.00pm, it was by no means full, so we were easily able to get a table. A convincing spruiking job from the affable maitre d’ helped us make up our minds, although you’ll be spoiled for choice along this strip, if Italian isn’t your bent.

We were presented with a “half-price” menu although I wasn’t quite sure why, as we didn’t have a voucher or docket deal. Perhaps this one is rolled out on quiet nights but in any event, lucky for us it was because afterwards I checked out the full price menu on the web and it looks pretty pricey, especially with its hefty 15% pub hol surcharge.

So we ended up paying a reasonable $52 for a dips starter plate, a steak, a calamari dish and a single XXXX beer.

The fare is standard Italian with a wide selection of steak, fish, veal, pasta and pizza dishes. Our “trio of dips” starter plate with extra pita bread ($12 full price, no special on this one) was a bit stingy with the dips. Just three small helpings of tzatziki, tomato relish and pureed spinach. So we quickly ran out of them, which was a pity because we were left with nothing to put on the warm, crispy pita bread that it came with.

My lemon-peppered calamari with chips and salad was a satisfying and tasty main dish. The fish was chewy and well cooked, just the way I like it and nicely complemented by the crunchy chips and fresh, wholesome salad. Serving size was generous especially given its modest price. My wife’s steak was tender and flavoursome and served with a dollop of creamy mash.

Service was friendly, polite and efficient although they made a hash of our bill, mixing ours up with another table. That surprised me, as I would have thought they’d be a little more alert in this busy tourist area.

Our outdoors table was comfortable on a warm autumn evening. I’m normally reluctant to sit outdoors in Sydney restaurants because of smokers, but here there didn’t seem to be anyone smoking around us. So either there are laws in Qld against smoking in alfresco areas or we were just lucky - or perhaps Qld’s diners are more considerate than their Sydney fellows! In any event, as visitors to the area, sitting outdoors was the perfect spot for us to view all the activity on the busy pedestrianised mall in front of the restaurant.

The toilets are in the adjoining building and you’ll need to enter a numeric code – which you’ll get from one of the staff - into the keypad. But apart from that little inconvenience, they’re clean and well provisioned. Menu is quite extensive, but easy to read.

Mama Roma is in the heart of the Broadbeach dining and entertainment precinct and easy to reach on foot or by public transport.

Overall, we had a pleasant and satisfying meal here, but I doubt whether I’d rush back if I had to pay full price.

Apr 28, 2014

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Bambusia Chinese Restaurant, Bondi Junction

Restaurants, Asian, Chinese, Indonesian, Malaysian

Overall 8  36

9 Highly Recommended

Food  9      Ambience  9      Service  9      Value  9     


Booking

This is one of the most popular restaurants in Bondi Junction, so booking is recommended any night of the week. We dined on a Sat night and there wasn’t an empty table in the place.

Food

The fare here is mainly Chinese with a few token Indonesian and Malaysian choices added in. We stuck to the Chinese dishes and were not disappointed. Everything we ordered was of the highest quality in terms of ingredients, preparation and presentation.

For starters we had dim sums, spring rolls and curry puffs. Each item had been delicately prepared to be the perfect entree: not too rich and heavy or too big: just the right size and texture to whet your appetite for what was to follow. And in a practical touch, the most popular entrees can be ordered in singles, so you can simply choose how many you want in a serve. If there are only two of you, you can order two spring rolls etc, so that prevents over-ordering and wastage.

For my main course, I ordered the braised steak in plum sauce. The meat was finely cut up into small, thin pieces. It was tender, full of flavour and perfectly complemented by the sweet plum sauce. The lashing of cooked onions - my favourite vegetable - was the cherry on top for me. My partner also chose a meat dish: the sizzling fillet which was served with fresh, crunchy vegetables. And to round it all off, a generous bowl of boiled rice. What a delicious meal that was.

Ambience

This is a lively and busy restaurant, so you’ll never have to worry about being stuck here as the only diners. But the decor however leaves one feeling as if one’s in a time warp. The non-descript plastic chairs, wooden tables and ugly dark carpet takes us back to the 1980s. Not a great period for interior design. So I reckon it’s time for a bit of a makeover, guys!

Service

All wait staff were friendly, helpful and polite. It was just a pleasure being served by them. And this was, despite the fact that the place was full. When we arrived, our booked table was ready and waiting. The owner/manager greeted us warmly and made us feel welcome. Orders were quickly taken and our waiter was extremely patient as we took awhile to make up our minds. Drinks were brought out first, just the way I like it and the food was on the table within minutes.

Value

Here we revisit the past again, because these are 1980s prices. With our 25% Ent Book voucher (up to max $20), we paid an unheard of $50 for two of us and that included three different entrees (two per serve), two mains, rice, two beers and a Irish coffee to finish off with.

Comfort

My only complaint was that, as there were only two of us dining, we were placed in the back section where it’s rather cramped. We would have preferred a table near the middle, but then given the crowds, this clearly wasn’t possible as the mid section is taken up with the larger tables. Apart from that, we were comfortable enough. The thick carpets keep the noise levels down to an acceptable level. Lighting is strong, making it easy to read the well-laid out menu. Toilets are a pleasure. They’re sparkling clean and well provisioned. It would be helpful though to have some signage visible from the restaurant to indicate where they are.

Location and Parking

You’ll find Bambusia near the corner of Newland and Ebley Streets. Now Bondi Junction is a bit of a dead zone at night, and the local council have made things worse by imposing metered parking until 9.00pm. And this despite the fact that hardly any spaces are taken, even on a Sat night. So, if driving, be prepared to pay up to $10 for parking on top of your restaurant bill. That’s bound to act as a discouragement to anyone from dining in this area. Thanks to the council for this bit of perverse logic and mumbo jumbo economics.

Summary

These guys have been here a long time and their experience and professionalism just shines through, especially when you consider how busy they were. They’ve created a first rate restaurant that works well on every level, from food to service, ambience and value for money. We’ll certainly be back.

Apr 14, 2014

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Created 03 Nov 2008
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