Homage Specialty Coffee – Parramatta NSW Restaurant Review

Tucked within the outside wall of a semi-smelly carpark in Parramatta is a small café serving what is probably Western Sydney’s best coffee, and some very good toasties.

Staffing at this carpark café is quite minimal, with only two people working to serve the teeming masses from the local legal community. The wait for my two toasted sandwiches (which were premade, mind you – all that had to be done was put them in the sandwich press) took about twenty minutes.

This bolognaise jaffle ($10 I think) is probably the best jaffle I’ve ever had, though the only of reference that I have for comparison are those made by my father (he owns a jaffle maker, but has no other formal jaffle making qualifications). The bread was suitably crispy, and the warm gooey cheesy filling of mince, tomato and cheese was warming and full of flavour. Well executed.

The mushroom toastie ($15-ish) was also very good. It was stuffed full of pickles and cheese, which gave it a good tangy flavour not found in all mushroom toasties. The mushroom added quite a bit of bite and chew to the toastie, and I didn’t even miss the lack of meat in it. The one complaint, if I were to nit-pick, would be that the tangy, salty flavours of this toastie might have just been marginally too flavourful for me. Nonetheless, a good toastie.

This soy latte may actually be the best I’ve had in my life. I’m not familiar with all the fancy terms reviewers use to describe coffee, but I know quality when I taste it.

The food was good, and the coffee was amazing. There is an unfortunate dearth of free parking in the area, and the nearest easily accessible free parking is probably in Westfield Parramatta (a 9 minute walk). I also think that given how busy they were on the day they’re probably bringing in enough revenue to buy another sandwich press. This could potentially cut their service times for a toastie down from twenty minutes to something a bit more reasonable. Having said all this, I’d definitely still recommend Western Sydney dwellers pay Homage a visit.

5/5 (coffee bonus)

Homage Specialty Coffee
Beneath City Centre Carpark, Shop 2/71 Horwood Pl, Parramatta NSW 2150


Two Fives – Rosebery NSW Café Review

We’ve eaten at Two Fives both in person and via delivery services.

This grilled chicken salad with Lebanese bread was not exciting. Very healthy. Wouldn’t recommend.

I really really loved the pea, smoked salmon, poached egg and hollandaise sauce thing. I can’t find it on their menu any more, but I would really recommend it if you see it on their specials board.

The mint coffee was good, the iced latte was pretty standard.

Two Fives’ I Stand Carroted ($21) is basically carrot cake pancakes drowned in mascarpone (however I don’t know how submerged they would be if eaten in person). I didn’t care for it much but my partner liked it.

We enjoy the Crispy Bird ($14), a chicken schnitzel sandwich with Tomato, Cheddar Cheese, Lime Garlic Mayo & Lettuce.

The cure ($16), a breakfast burger/sandwich with a hearty helping of bacon, 2 eggs, potato rosti, lettuce, tomato, and sauces is delicious. It is one of the best bacon and egg rolls in the area, helped by the fact that it is not merely a bacon and egg roll. I can recommend this one.

The Miss Maroubra ($14 – not pictured) is basically a ham sandwich but yummy.

While their sandwiches are very expensive, they’re absolutely jam packed with ingredients. I can recommend Two Fives.

Four out of fives.

Two Fives
355 Gardeners Rd, Rosebery NSW 2018
+61 (02) 9669 1611

Café Latin American

Costas Arepa Bar – Bondi Beach NSW Restaurant Review

I’m generally not a very beachy guy, and though I’ve lived in Sydney almost all my life, my visit to Costas Arepa Bar also marked my first visit to Bondi in over a decade. Bondi, as some may know and many are about to learn, is home to a population mostly consisting of well off Caucasian youths, who have the benefit of their family having lived in Australia since the First Fleet. One outcome of this very well off population is the incredibly boomy corner store industry, with the mini-grocer next door to Costas Arepas Bar seeing plenty of egg-and-or-milk runs from the above mentioned cohort during our brief visit.

Mama Chang (L), Yankee (R)

The arepas at Costa Arepa Bar are essentially little, corn based toasted sandwiches filled with an imaginative and plentiful range of fillings. The arrangement is similar to what you would find if you toasted a crumpet, cut it in half and filled it to the brim with proteins, salad, and sauces, though the arepa itself is a bit more grainy, thinner, yet somehow still more substantial feeling.

Though the displayed menu confusingly offers its arepas in pairs for $14, the chef was quick to point out that any combination of arepas could be had.

The Mama Chang featured a crumbed hoki fillet, kimchi, slaw, and a mixture of mayonnaise and “Korean BBQ Sauce”. Whilst the flavours were OK, I wasn’t a big fan of the sesame crumbing that they used on the fish, which I found gave it a bit of a harder bite than it really had to (no doubt designed to suit Bondi’s anti-gluten cultists).

The Yankee, was advertised as featuring beef short rib in BBQ sauce with coleslaw and jalapenos, though what we actually got was a pulled meat, not at all comparable to the juicy piece of short rib as we were expecting. The blandness of the meat and boring BBQ sauce made this the weakest arepa of the bunch. Not even the jalapenos could save it.

Pepiada (L), DownUnder (r)

The Pepiada arepa was the strongest of the bunch. The shredded chicken was coated in a rich sauce of lemon mayonnaise, coriander, and avocado. Unlike the other arepas, the filling in this one was homogenous, with no unexpected surprises or difference in ingredients eaten bite to bite. If you find yourself here and only have room for one arepa, this would be the one to go for.

The DownUnder arepa of the same shredded chicken but in peri peri sauce with a side filling of bacon and avocado just wasn’t executed as well as the Pepiada. The spicy filling wasn’t quite spicy (though the additional hot sauce for $1 made up for that), and the differing elements made it difficult to eat.

Soy Cappuccino

Costa Arepas Bar’s soy cap is essentially the same as any other soy cap, made with Little Marionette beans. What’s worth mentioning is the cup from Huskee, which is made from coffee husks and has a nice handfeel. I’d think about getting one of my own were I able to keep a keepcup longer than a few days.

3.5 NOT BAD.

Costa Arepas Bar
112A O’Brien St, Bondi Beach NSW 2026
0480 276 880

Asian Fusion Café Italian Vietnamese

Mentmore and Morley – Rosebery NSW Cafe Review

Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment that were wont to set the table on a roar? 

Memento Mori is one of the spookiest cafes in all of Rosebery. The constant reminder of our impending deaths is something I usually only experience while hanging out with one of my senior intensive care colleagues. I never thought that such a feeling could be distilled into a cafe, but the wizards behind Mentmore and Morley named their restaurant just so.

Wow. Let me tell you about these textured plates. They’re from IKEA, but I couldn’t identify them on IKEA’s online store. Again wow.

While I cannot quite tell you the name of this veal scaloppine style dish with assorted vegetables, I can tell you that it was quite good. I especially enjoyed the tomatoes.

The seasonal special, pork knuckle with Vietnamese slaw was around $30. It was a whole pork knuckle, slow roasted with skin on. The skin was quite crispy and delicious, and the meat tender. I was initially skeptical of the Vietnamese slaw, but the acidic flavours helped cut through the fat perfectly. A good pairing.

Coffee was no better or worse than standard.

While the name of Memento Mori was spooky, this did not extend to the food, which was a mixture of Italian and Vietnamese cuisines. I can recommend going to get spooked.

4 out of 5 Yoricks.

Mentmore & Morley
Rosebery, 13/55 Mentmore Ave, Sydney NSW 2018
(02) 9697 3617

Asian Fusion Vietnamese

Banh Xeo Bar – Rosebery NSW Vietnamese Restaurant Review

Banh Xeo Bar in Rosebery is a mixed-race family affair. Helmed by Benjamin Sinfield and Tanio Ho, the restaurant serves up Vietnamese inspired dishes with a dash of Western flare. This sense of co-operation is also seen in the staffing at the restaurant – with front of house being run by Caucasians and the kitchen run by Asians.

We were initially skeptical about this hip looking bar with a clientele of mostly Eastern Suburbs types (although we ourselves are technically Eastern Suburb locals at this point) and $15 banh mis, but quickly settled in to an authentic and tasty meal.

The Vietnamese iced coffee ($5.50) was really good! It was not too sweet.

We started with the crispy pork trotter in salt and vinegar butter ($12.50). This dish consisted of two deep fried pork trotters in a butter sauce with a slice of lemon. The pork was very deep friend and crispy, and the internal fats were nice and rendered. The meat itself was very oily, and I thought that the lemon was absolutely necessary to cut through the fat a bit. The butter was a bit of a superfluous addon to such an already heavy and oily dish. Overall a recommendation.

Our first main was the Banh Xeo with roast berkshire pork ($26.50). This was the first time I’ve ever had Banh Xeo, and I didn’t quite know what to expect. The egg pancake was fried to a very good warm and cripsy level. The filling inside, with pork and bean sprouts, had varying textures that amused the tongue, with a good umami flavour. The banh xeo was served with lettuce wraps and BXB’s marinated carrots and pickles, which when eaten together were able to provide multiple levels and types of crunch, crispiness, umami, and cut through the fat. This was an absolutely delicious dish.

The Combination Special Bun Bo Hue – beef flank, beef tongue, and pig head nugget noodle soup ($22.50) was a delight. We optioned it with 2 additional eggplant croquetas (on the plate in the photo), to be described separately.. I really like all the different types of meat in this soup – and also that despite being in the Eastern suburbs they didn’t shy away from serving things like beef tongue and pig head. I loved the varied textures of the meat, and also the high meat and vegetable content of the soup – there was never really a boring spoonful. A special mention goes out to the pig head nuggets, which were just delicious parcels of meatiness and fatiness that added a whole different dimension to the beef tongue and flank. The soup itself unfortunately doesn’t make it into my top soups, as my personal feeling was that it had too strong a soy flavour for my liking, but I recognise that this probably just a personal preference – I enjoyed the The Combination Special Bun Bo Hue more with the supplied lemon squeezed in. The lemongrass and chilli condiment, allegedly made by Ho’s mum, was good however didn’t find much use in this dish.

The eggplant croquetas (2 for $5) were enjoyed by my partner but not me. They were very smooth inside, and the form is made purely by the fried exterior, which I guess is a technical achievement. I think I’m a little bit allergic to eggplant.

Overall I can really recommend Banh Xeo Bar in Rosbery. It manages to straddle the line between authentic Asian cuisine and the rice paper rolls and banh mi that are more easily palatable to the South East Sydney populace. There really is something for everyone, to post gym yoga mums to two hardened deep-Asian diners.

4.5 Yums.

Banh Xeo Bar
11/61-71 Mentmore Ave, Rosebery NSW 2018
(02) 8542 5259